Gen Z – Spend, Spend, Spend
Think about how old Gen Zers were when they may have started caring about the adult world, and it may make sense why they don’t trust banks. At age 12, the oldest members of this generation watched the banking crisis unfold and their parents suffer through the Great Recession, then the jobless recovery.
While this may be bad news for financial services marketers, it’s great news for the rest of the advertisers. That’s because it means Gen Z is all about “spend, spend, spend.”
So says Joeri Van den Bergh, who authored the book “How Cool Brands Stay Hot: Branding to Generations Y and Z.” The third edition came out in paperback on March 28.
“Generation Z, those born after 1996, are the next kids on the block,” says Van den Bergh, co-founder of InSites Consulting, a global “new generation” research agency. “Numbering more than 2 billion globally and with a spending power of more than $44 billion in the USA alone, they’re the biggest, richest, most independent generation so far.”
For those doing the math, that means the oldest member of this generation is 20.
Here’s what Van den Bergh says marketers need to know about Gen Z:
Spenders, Not Savers
This generation may not be earning much money yet, but what it has it spends. Not trusting banks means, for instance, Gen Zers younger than 12 are buying video games (22 percent of income), devoting dollars to hobbies (20 percent) and food (20 percent). This generation is also influencing parental purchases, including automobiles. “It’s no coincidence that Volkswagen featured a young Darth Vader trying to use The Force on the new VW Passat family car in 2011,” writes Van den Bergh, “or that The Muppets took the new Toyota Highlander for a joyride in 2014 while singing ‘No Room for Boring.’”
Needs Instant Gratification
“The WWF (Worldwide Wildlife Fund) saw success with their emoji campaign [centered] on endangered species,” he says, “while GrubHub has captured the attention of time-poor, spend-happy customers by sending out exclusive discount codes through image messaging app Snapchat.” [Editor’s note: Marketers may want to take this assessment with a bit of skepticism. Please see the next paragraph.]
However, Millennials — who are also digital natives, were once viewed as needing instant gratification. Target Marketing blogger Summer Gould says Gen Y actually likes receiving old-school direct mail, as long as it has new-school values. So Gen Z may adapt, too. As the Wall Street Journal notes on April 11, Gen Zers are already changing from being primarily texters and social media natives to writing, rather than only reading, email. They’re doing so in order to enter the job market and interact with members of older generations. Older generations are also trying to adapt to Gen Z with, for instance, Snapchat-like job apps such as JobSnap that allow employers to see videos from job prospects.
However, there may be other challenges to come. The WSJ says “Generation Alpha,” which is younger than Gen Z, views even certain social media networks — such as Facebook — as being the province of “old people.”
Gen Zers Are More Optimistic Than Millennials or Baby Boomers
Recent research from J.D. Power shows that among high-income earners, Millennials are far more optimistic than Boomers.
Gen Z hasn’t even entered that income bracket yet and already shows more optimism than both generations. “Only 6 percent of Gen Z [says] that they fear what the future will bring,” Van den Bergh says. “They’re more diverse and open-minded than any generation before them and brands have started to reflect this in their consumer strategies. Proctor & Gamble launched their ongoing #LikeAGirl campaign in 2014 with the aim of turning ‘like a girl’ from an insult to a compliment, and in March 2016 launched their #LikeAGirl emojis, targeted to Gen Z consumers, building [on] the idea of empowerment in young girls.”
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.
Related story: Be ‘On Fleek’ When Marketing to Gen Z