3 Things Marketers Should Know About Gen Z

Say hello to a new world of marketing to Gen Z, the digital natives who’ve grown up, smartphones in hand, on a diet fueled by high-speed internet and social ...
Updated on March 21, 2024

Move over Millennials, the next generation of influential consumers has arrived. Say hello to Gen Z, the digital natives who’ve grown up, smartphones in hand, on a diet fueled by high-speed internet and social media. In step with the billions of selfies and Snaps they’ve been sharing over the past few years, their purchasing power has grown significantly. And brands are clamoring for the best ways to connect with them.

As part of our recently released Gen Z report, Criteo surveyed thousands of members of Gen Z in the US, UK, France, Germany, Brazil, and Japan to understand what they think about shopping: what motivates them, and what they want from the retail experience.

Marketing to Gen Z: Who Are They?

While all countries have different economic factors at play, members of Gen Z across the globe share a love of real-world retail experience augmented by technology. But who they are exactly?

1. They’re a large group of young adults with huge impact on commerce.

There aren’t hard and fast rules to delineate the years of each generation, but for the purposes of this study, Criteo defined the age group as current 16-24 year olds, or anyone born from 1996-2012. According to Pew Research, Gen Z makes up 22% of the US population, or 68 million people. That’s a lot of potential customers.

Forbes recently reported that Gen Z is on track to become the largest generation of consumers by the year 2020, and they account for $29 to $143 billion in direct spending.

According to a report by Cassandra, 93% of parents say their children influence household purchases, making Gen Z responsible for a sizeable portion of overall market spend.

2. They’re engaged with each other and empowered to share.

Gen Z grew up with social media and smartphones, so they have instant ways of connecting with each other from a young age. That has huge implications for marketers: Gen Z navigates the world with their phones and wouldn’t think of buying without consulting their online and offline network of friends.

When it comes to social media, Gen Z takes a multifaceted approach, using different channels for different reasons. Instagram showcases who they aspire to be, Snapchat captures real-life moments, Twitter serves them the news.

marketing to gen z

And while newer platforms might get the lion’s share of media attention, Gen Z actually uses Facebook a lot, too. According to our research, 54.9% use Facebook several times per day, followed by Instagram and Snapchat, which tied at 51.9%.

3. They have strong opinions and care deeply about brand stories.

Gen Z has strong opinions, heavily influenced by peers, politics, and pop culture. In many cases, that means they’re paying attention to the values of the brands they’re supporting. Those who are beginning to enter independent adulthood are more apt to choose items and retail concepts that align with their values.

Transparency and authenticity — like knowing where products come from and how they’re made — are just a few principles Gen Zers take seriously. Brands like Warby Parker and Tom’s offer the promise of social good, Everlane and Cuyana openly discuss how their products are made, and Glossier and Rimmel promote owning one’s individuality.

In the future, retailers that prioritize strong missions stand to rise highest above the fray, connecting with Gen Z where it matters most — in their hearts and minds.

For more Gen Z insights, download the full report.

Michelle Pruett

As Global Head of Content at Criteo, Michelle leads a high-performing, multi-disciplinary team of marketers packaging insights, copy, design, and video into integrated campaigns. Her own writing has been featured in Entrepreneur, Business Insider, AdWeek, eMarketer, and more. Before joining the ...

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