Move over, millennials.
Marketers are beginning to target a new crop of young people who are rapidly growing in number and influence: Generation Z.
Studies differ on the exact age range of Generation Z, but most agree they were born after 1990, which makes them the largest generational group in the U.S.
We set out to discover who they are and what they eat and buy. Here's what we found:
Gen Z wants to change the world. 60% of them want to have an impact on the world, compared to 39% of millennials, according to a study by Sparks & Honey, a New York-based marketing agency. Roughly one in four Generation Z-ers are involved in volunteering.
Advanced college degrees are less important to them. 64% of Gen Z-ers are considering an advanced college degree, compared to 71% of millennials.
They are more entrepreneurial than millennials. 72% of high school students want to start a business someday and 61% would rather be an entrepreneur than an employee when they graduate college, according to a study by Millennial Branding, a consulting firm, and .
They are digitally over-connected. Gen Z-ers multitask across at least five screens daily and spend 41% of their time outside of school with computers or mobile devices, compared to 22% 10 years ago, according to the Sparks & Honey report. "They suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) more than millennials, so being culturally connected is critical," researchers wrote.
But they prefer to work independently. "This generation is very individualized," Dan Schawbel, the founder of Millennial Branding, told Business Insider. "While millennials seek mentors, Generation Z is more about helping themselves."
They worry about the economy more than anything else, including crime, politics, their parents' job security, politics, or the cost of goods.
This chart details some of their interests:
Sparks & Honey
They prefer home-cooked foods over processed, ready-to-eat meals such as cold cereal, according to a study by The NPD Group. They aren't big fans of microwaves and would rather use a stove top or oven to prepare meals. Salad consumption is expected to increase the most among Gen Z-ers over the next five years, followed by sandwiches and breakfast foods that require some cooking, such as eggs and pancakes.
Gen Z-ers spend more money on food and drinks than anything else, and their favorite eatery is Starbucks, according to Piper Jaffray's most recent semiannual survey of teens. Nike is their top clothing brand, followed by Forever 21, Action Sports Brands, American Eagle, and Polo Ralph Lauren.
They are less active. 66% of kids ages six to 11 say online gaming is their main source of entertainment, according to the Sparks & Honey report. On a related note, teen obesity has tripled between 1971 and 2010.
They lack brand loyalty. "The products themselves are more important to Generation Z than the brands that produce them, and these consumers will change brands easily in search of higher quality," according to Arkansas-based marketing agency Martin-Wilbourne Partners.
Gen Z-ers are close with their families. "Their parents have a lot of control over the decisions that they make," Schawbel said. "Their influence is huge and plays into every aspect of their lives." Many of them are also living in multi-generational homes, as Baby Boomers age and move in with their kids.
They communicate with speed and often use emoticons and emojis instead of words. "They are accustomed to rapid-fire banter and commentary," Sparks & Honey analysts wrote. "As a result, Gen Z are not precise communicators and leave a lot of room for interpretation."
Here's what Sparks & Honey recommends to effectively communicate with a Gen Z-er:
Sparks & Honey
Sparks & Honey