New Research on the Buying Habits of Gen Z

Gen Z has become a focal point for many marketers seeking to connect with this up and coming generation with hefty buying power. In the most recent edition of the Piper Jaffray 38th Semi-Annual Taking Stock With Teens® Survey, released this month, new information has become available on the shopping and retail habits of Gen Z. This information is instrumental in forming a marketing strategy designed to tap into the estimated $830 billion contributions to U.S. retail sales made by this young generation.

Gen Z is growing up quickly. These individuals, born between the mid-90s and the mid-2000s, are becoming more independent and are beginning to register their preference when it comes to everyday retail decisions.

How can marketers harness the power of data collected in this survey to make knowledgeable and actionable decisions regarding marketing?

By taking an objective look at the existing habits of this generation, trends can be identified. For example, in glancing through this report it’s clear to see that many recognizable brands are still performing well for this younger generation. Prominent brands such as Chick-fil-a and Starbucks still reign at the top of the list for restaurants. Brands such as Nike and American Eagle still dominate the shopping corner of this market.

What does this tell us? These brands have hit on the proverbial fountain of youth and found a way to continue to market relevant material to ever-younger generations. The staying power of these brands is admirable, as they likely would rank high on the list of popular choices among even older generations.

Staying relevant is an ongoing challenge for brands, so there are some important takeaways here. Emulating the models of these brands that have demonstrated cross-generational staying power can be helpful for brands looking to achieve something similar.

Studying these survey results can also help point to areas that a different brand may be able to break down its own barriers to entry into this younger market. By taking the example of the brands that have ranked as important choices for Gen Z, and by studying the behaviors of these consumers when they’re making purchases, an opportunity may be more easily identified.

Another important takeaway here is the platforms these younger users are spending the most time on. YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat all rank high for social media and video consumption purposes. What does this mean? Advertisers should be looking for programmatic ad opportunities on these platforms when looking to reach these younger users.

Data such as this report can help brands navigate the world of media buying for younger demographics. By also looking at these buying habits, a marketing campaign’s messaging can begin to take shape as well. Remember: messaging matters just as much as platform and delivery. The wrong message that fails to resonate or connect with users will end up being a waste of marketing dollars.

Marketing to Gen Z presents a challenge, as does every young generation. With information such as is found in this report available, the obstacles to success a successful marketing campaign seem less insurmountable. Finding opportunities to reach younger consumers in an authentic way is important, and turning to data is often a key to success when it comes to marketing.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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