Who is Generation Z?
Generation Z (aka Gen Z, Zoomer, iGen or Centennials) are the demographic cohort born between 1997-2010, succeeding the Millennials. The individuals of this group are unique digital natives with a total population of 2.47 billion as of 2020. This generation is more populous and influential on consumer spending than all the previous generations.
With a spending power of USD143 billion just within the United States, Generation Z is the largest group of consumers, accounting for about 40% of global consumers in 2020. It is clear that brands and retailers place emphasis on studying Generation Z and how they shop, revealing insights on how to reach this important audience for the future of retail.
Characteristic traits of Generation Z
It is critical for enterprises to understand the common characteristics of Generation Z and adapt their marketing strategies accordingly to meet this generation’s digital expectations.
1. Global Connectivity
The tech-savvy Generation Z has been exposed to the internet, social media, and smartphones, having grown up wholly in the digital era. Leveraging the power of connectivity through technology, Generation Z’s digital behaviour is indeed influenced by globalisation from music, movies, social trends to fashion and more. Therefore, from attitudes to spending, to their outlook on the future, Generation Z across the globe are resembling each other more than any other generation.
2. Generation Z are more likely to be influenced online
Generation Z is inextricably tied to digital and continues sharing their experiences or consulting peers between browsing and making a purchase, through social media. As more Generation Z consumers turn to social media platforms for brand discovery, it is revealed that YouTube is the platform of preference when it comes to shopping advice, ranking first with 24%, followed by Instagram at 17% and Facebook at 16%. Understanding how Generation Z uses social media during their shopping journey is essential to engaging them with the right message using the right platforms via social media marketing campaigns.
3. Generation Z have higher expectations
Generation Z is a significant economic force to be reckoned by enterprises as they lead on the shift in consumer behaviour with their digital fluency. They are demanding consumers who place a high value on tech-savviness, security, authenticity, speed, convenience, flexibility, social value, seamless service, and personalisation. Regardless of the physical or digital world, the critical element for Generation Z is the seamless fluidity in consumer experiences. Hence, enterprises need to leverage these characteristic behaviour and consumption patterns closely with technological trends when marketing to these audiences.
4. Generation Z values uniqueness and individuality
Generation Z consumers value individual expression, growing up in an era of personalisation due to their experiences and influences from social media. They expect a wide range of features and services, such as personalisation, customisation, exclusive products, and brand collaborations. Products and services that are able to highlight their individuality is preferred by these consumers and they are willing to pay a premium for it, according to research from McKinsey and Company.
5. Holistic customer experiences appeals to Generation Z
Generation Z significantly prefers a seamless omnichannel customer experience where they can learn, interact, engage with retailers and brands. They are increasingly more likely to share their personal experiences on social media, whether or not the retailers and brands live up to their expectations. Only after understanding the nuances of what Generation Z expects of retailers and brands in their delivery of online and offline customer experiences, can they promote authentic relationships by offering relevant digital experiences and brand interaction.
6. Generation Z care about inclusion and sustainability
Social and environmental causes are several concerns that Generation Z cares about. They increasingly back their beliefs with their shopping habits, supporting retailers and brands that are aligned with their values. A study by McKinsey and Company revealed that the underlying motivations for such behaviours from Generation Z are due to a strong correlation between their desired social status for being trendy and yet achieving sustainable consumption.
Generation Z in China
Accounting for 15% of the total Chinese population, China has the largest Generation Z population in the world, an important segment driving the Chinese consumer market. Additionally, Chinese Generation Z accounts for 15% of their household’s spending, compared to 4% per cent in the United States and Britain in a survey conducted by OC&C Strategy Consultants.
Chinese Generation Z tends to outspend their budgets, hence referring to themselves as “the moonlight clan”, in reference to their propensity to spend their entire monthly salary over the course of a single lunar cycle. They put individuality and self-expression foremost when deciding which brands represent them best.
Let’s dive into how China’s Generation Z lives and spends:
1. Hottest trends and interests of Gen Z
The individuals of Generation Z in China are high spenders, quality seekers, and experience chasers. They favour spending their money on cultural consumption, cosmetics, garments, pets, travelling, fitness, animation, online shopping, and gourmet.
2. Chinese Generation Z’s leisure activities
Some of the most popular leisure activities amongst the Chinese Generation Z include travel, online surfing, hanging with friends, and going out for a movie. Out of which, going online is the most popular choice of how they spend their leisure time.
3. Entertainment preferences
Generation Z in China spends more time on their smartphones for their daily routine as well as entertainment. 59% watch movies on digital media, 54% listen to music on digital media and 49% play games on digital media.
4. Digital behaviours
52% of Chinese Generation Z use social networks daily. Moreover, upon analysing their daily time spent on these social networks, about 56 minutes were spent on chatting, 53 minutes on watching videos, 43 minutes on watching short videos, and lastly, 27 minutes on online shopping. One of the most popular social networks in China includes WeChat, used by individuals to share moments, engage in comments and upload photos and videos to the Internet.
6. Channels to reach Chinese Generation Z
Several popular Chinese social networking channels include WeChat, QQ, Weibo, Momo, RED and Baidu Tieba. As for the live/short video networking channels, KuaiShou and Douyin are ranked as the top two channels respectively.
7. Brand discovery channels of Generation Z in China
It is revealed that word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family are one of the leading channels for Chinese Generation Z to discover brands, with a rate of 55.1%. Followed closely behind is online advertising, recording a rate of 47.4%.
Marketing to Generation Z
Generation Z is one of the most powerful consumer forces in the market today, making up over 32% of the global population with a buying power of up to USD600 billion, taking into consideration the influence they have on their parents’ spending.
To seize the market opportunities they offer, consider taking the following steps to resonate with this new wave of consumers:
– Be unique
Whether it is about a product or a service, Generation Z is always looking for something unique as they put individuality and self-expression first when deciding which brands represent them best. Their expectations extend to their preferences in shopping and therefore, brands need to tailor their brand proposition to appeal to them. This starts with developing data-driven insights into their shopping pain points, consumption behaviour, and expectations for retailers and brands.
– Developing a branded omnichannel experience
From e-commerce retailers introducing pop-up stores to in-store immersive product experiences, omnichannel customer experience that is consistent and seamless across online and offline touchpoints is valued by Generation Z. They place more emphasis on the overall experience rather than just the product or service itself. On that note, marketing to Generation Z should include offering enticing offline experiences especially on service and face-to-face social engagement activities, which will eventually enhance their overall experience with the retailer or brand.
– Video marketing
Video is the key to reach Generation Z, with 70% of surveyed Generation Z from a study saying they learned about new brands via video-based social media at least once a month. Hence, the popularity of videos among Generation Z consumers is giving brands incentives to create more video content to deliver an authentic and compelling message to them. They are more likely to watch these videos and feel a connection to brands that understand their interests and if it impacts them, the likelihood of video content being shared with other similar audiences are higher.
– Key Opinion Leader (KOL) marketing
For Generation Z consumers, the influencers they follow on social media are an important part of their lives, both for entertainment and for inspiration. About three out of seven Generation Z reports stating that they follow social media influencers, with 55% of Generation Z consumers saying they are more likely to buy a product or service recommended by a KOL. A smarter way for brands to maximise advertising is to partner with KOLs to create user-generated content while leveraging their fan base to interact with their brands and gain more exposure.
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