Generation Z, those born after 1996, are the next kids on the block. Numbering more than 2 billion globally and with a spending power of more than $44 billion in the USA alone, they’re the biggest, richest, most independent generation so far.
Instilled with a lack of trust in the banking system, Gen Z aren’t the saving kind. According to an extensive study conducted by Insites Consulting, the Snapchat-loving teens receive higher allowances than their millennial predecessors – between $2 and $4 on average – and spends their cash almost instantly, with those under 12 spending no less than 75% of their allowances on video games (22%), hobbies (20%) and food (20%). But it’s not just their own cash they’re spending, as Generation Z has a huge influence on their parents’ spending as well. Nearly three out of five parents say that they consider the opinion of their kids when buying a car and this trend hasn’t escaped car manufacturers – it’s no coincidence that Volkswagen featured a young Darth Vader trying to use The Force on the new VW Passat family car in 2011, or that The Muppet’s took the new Toyota Highlander for a joyride in 2014 while singing ‘No Room for Boring’.
“Generation Z is probably the first generation where you are almost required to make an appointment with six year olds,” writes Joeri Van den Bergh, “because they might not have 5 minutes of time today”. With research showing that the attention span of the average American has shrunk to just 8 seconds, 2 seconds longer than a video on the popular platform Vine, Generation Z is all about instant gratification. As such, brands are having to find evermore innovative ways of catching the attention of this growing market if they want to stay ahead of the competition – The WWF (Worldwide Wildlife Fund) saw success with their emoji campaign centred on endangered species, while GrubHub has captured the attention of time-poor, spend-happy customers by sending out exclusive discount codes through image messaging app Snapchat.
Generation Z, for all their criticism, are an optimistic generation, with only 6% of Gen Z saying that they fear what the future will bring. They’re more diverse and open minded than any generation before them and brands have started to reflect this in their consumer strategies. Proctor & Gamble launched their ongoing #LikeAGirl campaign in 2014 with the aim of turning “like a girl” from an insult to a compliment, and in March 2016 launched their #LikeAGirl emojis, targeted to Gen Z consumers, building the idea of empowerment in young girls. Gen Z has an environmental and social conscience, with 60% saying they would pick a brand if they knew that they are attempting to improve the world, and 77% agreeing that ‘doing good’ and not just donating to charity should be a central part of business.