Commentary

Gen Z: The Key to Household Spending

Today’s teens and young adults have been through financial bootcamp. They grew up under the economic uncertainty of the Great Recession, and then took on student debt in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to then enter a digitized gig force with little promise of stability. So it’s not surprising that Gen-Zers have become as financially literate as they are technologically savvy. 

For marketers, this signals a paradigm shift in family dynamics. While parents have traditionally decided on purchases, they now depend on their children for informed purchase decisions as much as the children depend on their parents for support. In a recent study from the National Retail Federation, nearly 90% of parents say their Gen Z kids influence household purchases.

So, before even developing spending power of their own, Gen Z-ers have been guiding the spending of the Boomers and Gen-Xers that raised them. Now they’re growing up, and in 2020 Gen Z will be the become largest consumer block, wielding an estimated $143 billion in spending power for the year, according to a recent  study by Millennial Marketing.

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Unpredictable as they might seem, the preferences and behaviors of young consumers will continue to shape BTC industries for decades to come. So it pays to get to know these kids.

Where and how to reach Gen Z

As a result of their intense media diet, Gen-Zers are exceptionally adept at seeking out and evaluating information. Growing up alongside digital scams and deepfakes has eroded this cohort’s trust in media, forcing them to fall back on their own critical thinking and the opinions of their peers.

This has brought back the original marketing theme — word of mouth —  as absolutely invaluable. How does one get good word of-mouth? Good products, dependable services, and solid treatment of customers. There are no magic words, no one weird trick that can make this audience fall in love with your brand. You have to deliver with quality.   

Far from being mere receivers of information, Get Z Z is more socially involved,  more politically engaged, and creatively active than the generations preceding them. Our data reveals that teens are drawn to services that allow them to exchange thoughts with each other rather than simply collect those of conventional experts. Facilitating interaction between users helps encourage their growing independence, a virtue everyone holds dear at that young age. 

Winning Gen Z loyalty

In a time of near-infinite corporate input and waning demand for the same, less is more. To the point, small-scale communication has become far more effective than grand gestures of brand awareness. The time of universal messaging like “Just do it” or “Have a Coke” has faded, along with the 20th century, in favor of high expectations of quality products and services. Personal preferences now rule, and many young people would prefer to have a Kombucha over that Coke.

For marketers and advertisers, there’s a premium on personalization. The better a brand can deliver an experience as unique as each Gen Z-er feels, the better that brand will do for itself in the emerging marketplace of diversity. As Gen Z-ers are increasingly included in every step of the purchasing process — from research to transaction — it is incumbent for brands to engage this audience at the front end of the journey, long before price-checking even begins. 

2 comments about "Gen Z: The Key to Household Spending".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 7, 2020 at 8:18 a.m.

    I think that it's a great leap to cite a stat to the effect that a survey found that 90% of parents ( ? ) claimed that their "Gen Z" offspring had an influence on their household purchases as the basis of a piece about "Gen Z"  being the key to household spending. For one thing many  homes don't even have a "Gen Z" resident so that rules them out as having any influence in those households. As for the degree of influence that "Gen Z" has I doubt that the survey went item by item---like a new car, a detergent, a mop, etc. and asked parents what influence ---if any--their "Gen Zs" had. More likely it was simply a general evaluation---hardly case-specific or particularly meaningful. This does not mean that marketers should ignore "Gen Z" ---when this  is appropriate. But we shouldn't oversell the story either.

  2. Gabriel Cohen from SpotX replied, January 7, 2020 at 3:55 p.m.

    @Ed - couldn't agree with you more. No GenZ living at home is making major buying decisions for cars, appliances, home improvement, etc.. Do I ask my kids what video game system they want? Yep... sure do. What cereal they want? Yep... sure do. We need a study that is category specific and much more tailored to the audience, but do your point - we need to be talking to them for the same reason people talked to Millennials until they had their own money - because advertising does still work.

    Following on that, this is the same story - they hate advertising. My kid says the same thing, but then can recite Video ads like the Bible. All young people on a survey think they hate advertising and it doesn't influence them until they need or want something that they see in an ad... haha... 

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