Deep Dive: What do Gen Z look like at the end of 2020?

23.11.2020 Trends & Strategy

Gen Z includes everyone who was born in the mid-1990s to early 2010s. They’re now young adults in their late teens and early 20s who are coming towards the end of their studies and are about to enter the business world. They grew up surrounded by the entire media world and they really know how the Internet works. They’ve never known a time when ordering pizza, sending WhatsApp messages to a friend, and FaceTiming their mother wasn’t possible. They are the first generation that is active and available for almost 24 hours a day.

Gen Z’s interests, attitudes and outlook

Gen Z has always been highly creative. They’re enthusiastic about cooking (49%), photography (43%) and urban/modern art (28%). Despite some of the stereotypes, they’re anything but inactive; 40% of Gen Z is interested in personal healthcare, fitness and exercise. This extends to an interest in health foods/drinks (50%) or alternative diets such as vegetarian food (21%). As a result, they exercise regularly (49%), with running/jogging (41%) or going to the gym (28%) frequent activities.

Gaming remains a staple interest – 63% engage in the activity! It also remains a largely male-dominated activity, with 50% interested in gaming and esports compared to 28% of females. Female Gen Zs show much more interest in beauty/cosmetics, with 66% listing this as an interest. 27% say standing out in a crowd is important to them, meaning brands should reflect their desire for individuality.

Gen Z is highly entrepreneurial, with respondents describing themselves as money-driven (28%), ambitious (39%) and career-focused (42%). But these attributes shouldn’t be mistaken for self-centeredness; they want to better the world just as much as they want to better themselves. Around half say helping the environment is important to them, while just under 40% say the same about contributing to their community or helping others. It’s worth noting that Gen Z expects to see these attitudes reflect in the brands they support and that their purchasing decisions are impacted by whether or not a brand’s values align with their own.

Gen Z and social media

Gen Z’s use of social media is continuing to climb. In March 2020, 58% of Gen Zs said they were spending more time on social media, and this remained unchanged in July.

Their platform usage habits have, however, shifted slightly. Since early 2019, there’s been a steady and growing trend of their attention moving away from more established platforms like Facebook and Twitter, over to channels like TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram.

YouTube remains their preferred platform globally. Gen Z's frequent interaction with vloggers is essential to the platform’s success. This is an audience who are as likely to watch vlogs each month as they are to watch TV on-demand services. 42% of Gen Z YouTubers watch videos from vlogs or celebrities on the site. Around 86 million users subscribe to gaming-related videos on YouTube – with around 3 in 10 Gen Z users (outside of China) watching a gaming livestream or game trailer on YouTube in the last month.

However, the site's varied content means rival sites have stepped up to cater to this generation’s affinity for gaming. Twitch, for example, was used by 15% of Gen Zs in the past month. The up-and-coming rival is widely credited with YouTube’s decision to discontinue YouTube Gaming in 2019.

Gen Z and Influencers

Gen Z shows strong interest in accounts that align with their interests — or introduce them to new ones. This means content creators consistently feature in their social media feeds, especially those who specialise in gaming. Gen Zs are 75% more likely to follow gaming personalities online than the average internet user, with males 135% more likely to do so.

Understanding their unique social media engagement requires identifying their primary interests. Gen Z females, who we previously highlighted for their interest in beauty/cosmetics, are 2.6x more likely to follow beauty bloggers on social media compared to the average user. Their love of film then makes them 48% more likely to follow actors, while their sporting nature puts them well ahead of the average for following sports stars.

This doesn’t mean branded content takes a backseat, however — over a third of Gen Z follow brands they like, while around 1 in 4 follow those they’re considering purchasing from. But Gen Z loyalty can be fickle, quickly won and lost just as fast. They’re 22% more likely to say they’ve stopped following a brand online in the past month! Brands need to remember that Gen Zs respond well to “infotainment” content if they want to retain the favour of this tough crowd.

Gen Z’s purchasing behaviour

Gen Zs discover products through much of the content they most associate with on social media. This means that video and celebrity/influencer content should be a priority for brands — especially with COVID-19 accelerating brand’s move online to reach their audience.

Gen Zs are likely to research products in the same way they discover them, with vlogs once again the stand-out method. Because 28% of Gen Zs cite an easy online checkout process as a purchase driver, brands who can seamlessly blend research and checkout – without ever directing them away from the page – put themselves at a strong advantage. More importantly, however, is cost and reward. Major purchase drivers for Gen Z include free delivery (54%), influencer discounts (43%), and offering access to exclusive content (24%).

How a brand comes across goes hand-in-hand with where it comes across, so connecting with this young audience on the channels they frequent using the personalities or interests they associate themselves with is a vital first step. 24% of Gen Zs outside of China have actively engaged or contributed to Pinterest in the past month. Brands can take this further by offering a platform for like-minded Gen Zs through their own customer forums.

For brands that want traction with this group, the best way to achieve this is by demonstrating that they’re listening to this vocal audience. While they’re quick to align with brands that spotlight them as individuals, their altruistic and eco-conscious views shine through too. Environmental concerns are quickly rising. 79% Gen Zs across 18 countries responded that companies behaving more sustainably is more even important to them since the COVID-19 outbreak, and there was a strong desire to "build back better" after 2020.

Gen Zs expectations will fundamentally change the world of marketing. Influencer Marketing is an extremely effective strategy to build your brand and, along with it, brand sentiment. With up-and-coming Gen Z on your side, the long term potential for your brand is massive.

(Source: globalwebindex, 2020)

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