What Makes Gen Z Tick

What Makes Gen Z Tick
Here's what you need to know about teen consumers.
by Square Jul 03, 2017 — 2 min read
What Makes Gen Z Tick

Millennials typically get all the airtime when we talk about demographic-targeted marketing strategies. But it’s becoming increasingly important for businesses to appeal to Gen Z — that is, today’s 13- to 17-year-olds.

Gen Z now represents a quarter of the population. And they have some serious purchasing power — $44 billion annually. (That number could be closer to $200 billion annually if you factor in their influence on household purchases.)

What makes this generation tick? Google recently published a fascinating study that dives into the mindset and purchasing behavior of this key demographic. Here are some of the most interesting findings, as well as recommended strategies for businesses to attract and retain teen customers.

Smartphones reign

Today’s teens are the first generation to come of age using mobile devices. The average teen got their first smartphone at age 12 (as opposed to age 20 for millennials) and they use it way more than any other device. That shift is dramatically shaping their behavior. Smartphones are completely integral to Gen Z lives — they jump quickly between texting to messaging apps (like WhatsApp and Snapchat) to mobile shopping.

Takeaway for businesses: It’s imperative to make mobile a central part of your business strategy. Optimize your website for mobile, streamline your mobile communication methods, and integrate a mobile payments POS at your brick-and-mortar store.

They prefer online shopping

Two in three teens prefer to make purchases online. And more than half of them make purchases on their phones. This is a big shift from older generations — even millennials — who still value in-person shopping experiences.

They cite convenience and the ability to find better deals as top reasons for shopping online over physical stores. Images are also central to their buying decisions: 64 percent of teens say that the images they see online influence the products they purchase.

Takeaway for businesses: If you’re a brick-and-mortar store, an omnichannel marketing strategy is crucial. Create a seamless experience between your online and offline channels, integrating mobile touchpoints as much as possible. And make sure your product imagery is clean and attractive on all devices, ideally with zoom functionality and shots from different angles.

They watch a lot of videos

Generation Z spends a ton of time watching videos online. Seventy-one percent said they watch more than three hours of online videos a day.

Takeaway for businesses: Integrate videos into your content marketing efforts. Create educational videos for each of your products or consider starting an episodic video series featuring tutorials and how-tos.

They’re big texters

Texting is Gen Z’s preferred way to connect with others, followed by messaging apps. Fifty-two percent of teens report spending more than three hours a day mobile messaging. In fact, nearly three in ten teens say they text with people they’re physically with at the time.

Takeaway for businesses: Integrate systems that allow you to communicate with your customers via their mobile device’s messaging channels. This can be as simple as text-based reminders for appointments and order updates, and as robust as launching a customer service chatbot.

They respond to ads

Perhaps surprisingly, the number two factor that goes into “making a product cool” is whether teens saw an ad about it (the number one reason is whether their friends are talking about the product). Ads that feature someone their age whom they can relate to are particularly effective.

Takeaway for businesses: Experiment with advertising or boosted posts on social media networks like Facebook and Instagram featuring teens. Include video in those posts to really engage teens.

The Bottom Line is brought to you by a global team of collaborators who believe that anyone should be able to participate and thrive in the economy.


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