Understanding Gen Z: the Ins and Outs

October 27th, 2022 by

Generation Z. Gen Z. The digital natives. Zoomers. Gen We. 

A cohort of many names. Whatever name you know this cohort by, one thing is indisputable: they’re disrupting everything.

Gen Z: Who are they?

Gen Z’s are currently aged between 12 and 25. They have grown up with the internet being readily available for the majority of or all their lives, so to say they’re tech-savvy is an understatement.

Gen Z are at a variety of powerful life stages. Some are living at home and completing their education, some are finishing school and entering further education or the workforce, and others are learning to live independently and exploring what the world has to offer. Despite only just entering their spending power, Gen Z already has an estimated disposable income of $360 billion in the US—nearly double the estimate from three years ago.

The rise of social media has allowed Gen Z to grow up speaking to online audiences, founding and finding trends, and developing a secondary online persona. While Gen Z has this in common, that’s about where the similarities end.

The shaping of Gen Z

Although not unique to Gen Z specifically, Gen Z has grown up through a never-ending series of tumultuous events and global historical moments. This means their identities have been shaped by society-changing movements.

These changes have had lasting impact on Gen Z, influencing how they socialise, their priorities and their general outlook on the future.

Huge movements in gender and race equality, climate change, the pandemic, and now the cost of living crisis, have left Gen Z with the need to change the world, be part of a community, and stay true to themselves.

Gen Z has also been uniquely shaped by their access to social media. While for the oldest of the cohort, social media wasn’t readily available until they were in their early teens, the youngest have grown up with it being the norm. As a result, we have a generation of people who have crafted online personas that portray the best versions of themselves and their lives. 

Not only this, but they have grown up seeing what others older than them have created and achieved. From lavish holidays, to luxury cars and fashion, to multi-million pound houses, Gen Z has been shown this content daily, leading to a warped sense of reality.

However, Gen Z is also biting back. Instead of posting and consuming aesthetic content, Gen Z favours connectivity and authenticity. We’ve seen this in the rise of photo-dumps on Instagram, the popularity of unedited TikTok videos, and the latest craze: BeReal.

Gen Z’s Standards and Spending

It’s safe to say Gen Z has pretty high standards when it comes to brands. Because of this, their spending habits are—mostly—considered. A more considered approach to spending means there’s a longer consumer journey.

69% of Gen Z would rather save up for items they really want, and 40% say price and quality are the most important factors to consider when purchasing. Gen Z’s prolonged browsing period and high standards means they aren’t as loyal to brands as previous generations—they are always open and looking for the next best option. 

This prolonged research stage means brands need to focus on emotionally and culturally connecting with Gen Z, and create online experiences to keep themselves at the forefront of Gen Z’s mind and social feeds. 

Gen Zs have a fluid sense of identity, and this extends to their relationships with brands. As their own personal values change, so do the values they seek from brands. Gen Z consumers want brands to be positive influences by empowering them, and standing up for the marginalised. 

To build lasting loyalty with Gen Z consumers, brands need to be transparent and allow consumers to be involved with their brand—not just through UGC, but with open communication with audiences.

Gen Z and Advertising 

Not only does Gen Z have high expectations from brands, but they actively reject ads and demand more from media. Many consumers in the UK and US prefer brands that don’t advertise heavily, Chinese Gen Zs are turning to platforms where there’s little advertising, and Gen Zs from France struggle to distinguish the difference between a paid ad and general communication. 

Across Meta, YouTube. and Google, Gen Zs have the lowest response to advertising—on Meta specifically, Gen Z have a click through rate 36% lower than millennials. 

So how do you go about advertising to people who actively avoid being advertised to? Brands need to make their social ads funny, relevant, and emotional in order to have a lasting impact on Gen Z. 

While Gen Z are negative towards branded advertisements, influencer marketing receives an overwhelmingly positive response—especially in China. Influencer-led content has been proven to be 3 times more effective than standard advertising. 

Using influencers allows brands to reach niche subcultures on multiple platforms. This way, you can connect with hyper-engaged audiences, while presenting your brand as culturally relevant. 

Our Influencer marketing agency and Social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

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