After 20 years or so of trying to understand what Millennial consumers want, ready or not – here comes Gen Z. The generation whose oldest members are now of college age is shaping up as another generation that’s bringing far more change than continuity. And that’s a challenge for marketers and market researchers.
The National Retail Federation (NRF), is trying to help, by sponsoring a series of reports about Gen Z consumers, based on a worldwide survey of 13- to 21-year-olds carried out by the IBM Institute of Business Value.
Early research snapshots of this group reveal them as even more immersed in technology than even the famously tech-focused Millennials. Instant information and the devices for accessing it are Gen Z’s birthright. After all, as the NRF puts it, they’re “the first true digital natives.” And a core generational characteristic is how exacting and demanding its members are when it comes to the technology they use. Experiences won’t satisfy if they are not technically problem-free, so getting technology right is crucial for engaging Zers as consumers and research panelists. Here are a few of the NRF/IBM study’s findings:
- 75% of Gen Z members said they use a smartphone – more than double the 30% who use desktops, and a consumer landslide over the 45% who use laptops.
- “Technology has provided a vehicle for Gen Zers to interact with brands on their own terms…their familiarity with technology means they are not easily fooled.”
- “The fluidity and speed with which Gen Z cycles through media platforms and apps potentially make them more challenging to target….”
- “They are less likely than other generations to be brand loyal as traditionally defined. If brands are slow to engage or [if they] break their promises, then Gen Zers will quickly switch to a competitor.”
- “If a product, service or experience does not live up to expectations, they will take their business and their influence elsewhere.”
- “Many iconic brands will need to challenge long-standing business practices and marketing strategies to remain relevant to Gen Zers and meet their experience expectations.”
- “Gen Zers expect brands to be on their channels and to interact with them on a personal level, just as they engage with their peers….. static marketing planning and execution are simply not enough with this generation.”
- “To help win the hearts and minds of today’s youngest generation of consumers, brands should….be there when they want you; meet them where they want.”
One of the most important statistics to keep in mind in planning an approach to Gen Z is that they aren’t just growing up mobile, but as users of mobile apps. As it stands, even without Gen Z, 92% of adults’ time spent on mobile is spent inside a mobile app, according to Flurry Analytics. Research methodology must adjust accordingly if it’s to meet consumers where and when they want to be reached – or else not reach them at all. We’re all living in the Smartphone Era, in which there’s no real engagement without mobile-app engagement. To learn how to get on track quickly with innovative mobile-app survey solutions to fit your own research needs, just get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.