Is your brand lit — or basic? Get to know Gen Z’s shopping behaviors

Marketers are beginning to target a new cohort of young people

Move over, Millennials. Marketers are beginning to target a new cohort of young people: Generation Z.

Gen Z includes those born between the mid-1990s to early 2000s, numbering about 60 million — more than a quarter of the U.S. population. Their spending power is $44 billion annually, before accounting for their influence on household purchases.

Google’s Brand Team for Consumer Apps surveyed teens ages 13 to 17 in the U.S. to research what they think is cool and, by extension, how they’re likely to spend their money.

What’s lit?

Google asked teens to rate brands based on their awareness of the company and how cool they think it is. Their top 10 coolest brands are YouTube, Netflix, Google, Xbox, Oreo, GoPro, Playstation, Dorito, Nike and Chrome.

The least cool are TMZ, the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! and Sprint.

What does this mean for brands?

Centennials are true digital natives. They never knew the world before the internet. They’re used to buying with one click and expect big things from the brands they buy from. According to Google’s study, “they value information, stimulation and connection, evident by their affinity for YouTube, Google and Netflix.”

As marketers, we’re looking at a big demographic shift. Gen Z is seen as “conscientious, hard-working, somewhat anxious and mindful of the future,” Lucie Greene, the worldwide director of the Innovation Group at J. Walter Thompson, told the New York Times. Compare that with the stereotypical Millennial.

It’s our job to cater to these new needs. If you’re still struggling to figure out how to communicate with Millennials, you’re already behind. Increasingly, it’s Gen Z’s world, and our products, services and marketing all will need to inform and inspire them.

How do we market to Gen Z?

  1. Tell your story across multiple screens (and networks).
  2. Collaborate with them, and help them collaborate with others.
  3. Feed their curiosity with ephemeral content, behind-the-scenes features and interactive messaging.
  4. Speak their language: Communicate in shorter bursts, acknowledge their opinions and emphasize value.
  5. Be mindful of their values related to social justice and responsibility, sustainability and their global worldview.

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