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Gen Z on Gen Z: A Special 360PR+ Insights Report

One of the true delights of summer is the influx of students – now Gen Zers – into 360’s workforce. They bring with them not only an eagerness to learn, but hugely valuable insights to this new, belief-propelled, most diverse generation yet, one with an estimated spending power of $29B-$143B.1

360PR+ Director of Insights and Brand Strategy Alison Swift collaborated with our top-of-their-class summer interns to better understand Gen Z—their values, the media they trust, the influencers who inspire them and the brands that captivate them and why. Here, we share an executive summary of that research with you to consider how you can engage more deeply with Gen Z. Interested in learning more about Gen Z and beyond? Read on and drop us a line to get in touch directly with Alison.

A Split Generation

Referred to as “iGen,” “Centennials,” or “Post Millennials,” Gen Z is a split generation of Gen Z teens under 18 years and Gen Z adults 18+ years.2 Even with Gen Z adults entering the working world, this generation is largely financially dependent upon their parents. Few begin working before 17, only 20% earn more than $100/week, and 72% ask their parents for money when they need it.2 Despite limited financial independence, Gen Z exercises considerable direct buying power ($29B – $143B1) and even greater indirect buying power through their influence on parents’ spending ($600B3). Gen Z is a particularly price-sensitive generation, able to verify anything online.

More Diverse

Gen Z is unique in that they are the most diverse generation yet. Across racial, ethnic, gender and sexual orientation lines, this generation identifies with and recognizes a broader range of individual expression. Nearly half (48%) identify as non-white4 and 35% say they know someone who prefers to be referred to by gender-neutral pronouns.5

8-Second Attention Span

Gen Z’s access to and involvement with digital technology informs, enables and influences their experiences and relationships with the world around them, including brands. Gen Zers are online “almost constantly,”6 and mobile internet is the media they trust the most.7 Spending 32 hours online each week7 and with an attention span of 8 seconds,8 they are consuming a tremendous amount of content on a daily basis. Their smartphone is how they connect to and engage with the world. They consider it a source of entertainment, an important tool in their purchase decisions (both in-store and online), and an extension of their personality.7

Social media serves multiple purposes for Gen Z and, as a result, they move from platform to platform with speed and regularity. Personal connections, brand discovery, inspiration and information are all enabled and pursued across social. YouTube and Instagram are the platforms of choice for Gen Z. YouTube is at the top of the list with 72% of Gen Z watching daily,9 and they are 2x more likely to turn to the platform for product research.10 Instagram isn’t far behind with 63% of Gen Zers using the app daily and 50% using it multiple times per day.2 Snapchat is in the mix as well (43% use it daily) and gaining ground with younger Gen Zers.2

 

Generation Z Profiles

Trust for Influencers – and Traditional Media

Influencers play an important role in Gen Z’s decision-making processes - 57% of them have purchased a product because of an influencer endorsement.11 This generation trusts the opinions and recommendations of influencers because they feel real, relatable and provide true value in the lives of Gen Zers. Perhaps surprisingly, Gen Z values traditional news and lifestyle outlets, too – among them The New York Times, HuffPost, CNN and The Wall Street Journal.12 These outlets appeal to Gen Z’s appreciation of clear, credible information. 

Download our list of 9 News + Lifestyle Media Gen Z Turns To

Brand Connections

Personal relationships, self-expression and strong social consciousness are a few of the hallmarks of Gen Z. Brands must personalize their messaging and approach to support these traits if they are to find success with this generation. They are 61% more likely to connect with brands through social, and they are more likely to buy brands that reflect their style (67%) and support causes they care about (57%).7 Environmental issues, racial and gender equality, gun control and education cost are among the causes that are paramount to Gen Z.13 Nike is one example of a brand that has appealed to this belief-based audience by taking a clear stand on social issues.

This generation also prefers brands that are not afraid to take risks in their product development or marketing, and Oreo and Doritos have found a way to keep these younger consumers hooked through surprising and fun product innovations.14

Another brand winning with Gen Z is Southwest Airlines, whose #SouthwestStorytellers campaign leveraged influencers to drive awareness, interest and advocacy for the airline and to highlight new programs and offerings. Eleven influencers with diverse backgrounds and interests that mirrored the airline’s customer base were selected for the program. This “Class of 2018” included water-skiers, adventure filmmakers, country singers, lifestyle bloggers and retired NFL players who created a library of authentic, quality content that would engage consumers. Influencer content was shared across Southwest channels and reached almost 30M users, driving over 1M organic engagements.15

Recognizing Gen Zers’ short attention spans and desire for hyper-personal content, Netflix released Bandersnatch, an interactive film with six alternative endings where the viewer controls the fate of the main character. This departure from Netflix’s typical streaming model came from its understanding that “conventional television” does not have to remain “a one-way monologue, with no conversation or engagement.”16 Other brands looking to connect with Gen Z audiences would benefit from creating these kinds of opportunities for direct audience interaction.

In an Instagram poll of 800+ Gen Zers, these brands are winning over others:

 

Generation Z Like-able Brands

 

We’d like to thank the following students for spending their summers with us and contributing to this report:

  • Courtney Conyers, Boston University
  • Samantha Cooper, Syracuse University
  • Abi Gaudreau, Syracuse University
  • Kate Massengill, University of Georgia
  • Bridget Stokes, Bridgewater State University

Our research and insights practice doesn’t end with Gen Z. If you would like to know more about the audience segments, trends and other areas we dive into – and how they can contribute to your successful brand strategy – please email Alison Swift, 360PR+ Director of Insights and Brand Strategy.

 

Resources

  1. ResearchAndMarkets.com: Generation Z as Future Customers – Forecast to 2027, March 2019
  2. Mintel: Marketing to Gen Z – US, May 2019
  3. Inc.: Ryan Jenkins, Marketing to Generation Z? Here’s What You Need to Know, August 2018
  4. Pew Research Center: Nearly Half of Post-Millennials Are Racial or Ethnic Minorities, November 2018
  5. Pew Research Center: Kim Parker, Nikki Graf, & Ruth Igielnik, Generation Z Looks a Lot Like Millennials on Key Social and Political Issues, January 2019
  6. Pew Research Center: JingJing Jiang, Teens Who Are Constantly Online Are Just As Likely to Socialize With Their Friends Offline, November 2018
  7. GfK MRI 2018 Doublebase: Generations: Gen Z (b. 1997 – 2010)
  8. VisionCritical: Kelvin Claveria, Unlike Millennials: 5 Ways Gen Z Differs from Gen Y, April 2019
  9. PostBeyond.com: Lauren Durfy, Millennials v. Gen Z On Social Media, February 2019
  10. AdWeek: Brittany Hodak, As Gen Z Reshapes the Social Media Landscape, Marketers Need to Be Open to Change, November 2018
  11. Julius, 2019
  12. MediaPost: Sara Guaglione, Atlantic Re:Think Study Finds Millennial Media Not a Good Fit For Gen Z Audiences, February 2019
  13. GenZInsights: John Wheeler, Every Gen Z Stat You Could Ask For, Right At Your Fingertips, February 2019
  14. Business Insider: Rachel Premack, Generation Zs Reveal Their 100 Favorite Brands, September 2018
  15. Shorty Awards: The #SouthwestStorytellers: A Soaring Influencer Program, 2018
  16. AdWeek: Shachar Orren, Bandersnatch Proved That Audiences Want to Engage and Have a Dialogue With Their Video Content, January 2019