Generation Z: The Future of the Consumer Market

By Roxanne Simonnet, Digital Media Specialist

Published: January 31, 2018

Generation Z is expected to account for 40 percent of consumers by 2020. In fact, by this time, they will overtake millennials, who will only represent about 30 percent of consumers. So if you think you can just ignore this new generation, you’re making a major marketing mistake.

Who is Generation Z?

Generation Z is the newest generation of young people, poised to take the emphasis off of the ever-criticized and often stereotyped millennials. While exact the definitions vary, it is generally considered to be those who are born around 1996 and later. Currently, they represent around 72 million people, which accounts for roughly 25 percent of the population. These individuals are often characterized as dreamers and do-gooders, who grew up in times of heightened terrorism and recession.

Why is Generation Z important?

As of right now, Generation Z represents a buying power of $44 billion. They also have an additional $600 billion consumer spend that they directly influence within their family units. As previously mentioned, this will only grow as this population matures. Soon, they will comprise a larger percentage of the U.S. consumer market than millennials.

How can you reach this generation?

Once you understand who Generation Z is, the next challenge is understanding how to reach them. Members of Generation Z have an attention span of about 8 seconds, which is considerably shorter than the 12 second attention span of the average millennial. In order to cut through the advertising clutter and catch their attention, you have to focus on brevity, authenticity and imagery. Members of this generation seem to have built up a mental filter for sponsored content, and sitting through a traditional ad doesn’t do much for them. Instead, they prefer entertainment and engagement. They also prefer “behind-the-scenes” moments to staged commercials, and real people rather than celebrities.

In order to effectively market to this generation, you also need to know where you can reach them. Generation Z has a heavier presence on Snapchat and Instagram than they do on Facebook or Twitter. They are more likely to use streaming services, such as Netflix or Hulu, instead of traditional television. They use apps on their phone to listen to music, rather than turning on the radio. On average, they are splitting their attention between as many as five different screens (smartphone, TV, laptop, desktop and tablet). Their use of digital is almost constant, but very fragmented, making their attention difficult to grab and even harder to retain.

How is Generation Z different from millennials?

By some, this generation has been nicknamed “millennials on steroids.” Generation Z does have many similarities to the generation that came before them, however, there are also some key differences.

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