A new kind of shopper is on the rise. Relentless technological innovations, challenging economic conditions and complicated global politics strongly influence the habits, behaviors and expectations of members of Generation Z (Gen Zers). Despite their young ages, they already hold unprecedented influence over family purchasing decisions and wield enormous economic power of their own. To prosper tomorrow, retail and consumer products (CP) brands must engage Gen Zers today.
Hot on the heels of the ubiquitous Millennial generation, Gen Zers are the next new “crop” of consumers. And our latest research shows that they already display characteristics and preferences different than those who’ve come before — enough so that retail and CP executives should take note.
So who are these Gen Zers? Born in the mid-1990s and beyond, they are estimated to be between 2 and 2.52 billion strong. Self-reliant “digital natives,” they socialize, learn and have fun living in a fluid digital world — one in which the boundaries between their online and offline lives are nearly indistinguishable.
At the same time, Gen Zers are pragmatic and realistic; perhaps surprisingly, more than 98 percent still prefer to make purchases in bricks-and-mortar stores. And while Millennials expect career success, Gen Zers make their own.
As Gen Zers begin to come of age, CP and retail brands are already feeling the impact. Not only does this young generation have its own money to spend, but its economic influence extends over both family members and wider communities. Gen Zers’ impact is only going to increase as they mature and become mainstream consumers.
To better understand how they prefer to engage with brands and prioritize purchase decisions today, the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) conducted a global survey of 15,600 Gen Zers between the ages of 13 and 21, as well as interviews with 20 senior executives (see “Methodology” at the end of the report). In this report, developed in collaboration with the National Retail Federation (NRF) and the first of a series, we explore Gen Zers’ technology preferences, “cyber-savviness” and economic influence. The rest of the series will look at ways to build strong brand relationships — both in growth and mature markets — and to create authentic omni-channel shopping experiences with Gen Zers.