Everywhere you turn, organizations are performing research and studies on our fascinating Millennial Generation. Businesses have worked hard to earn their loyalty and influential powers. It's been an enlightening and engaging journey, and now the focus is quickly turning to our Gen Zers.  While Millennials have had a major impact on how businesses think, act, and advertise, Gen Z may become the most influential generation in America to date.

This Barkley report estimates Gen Z's earnings to already be close to $153 billion, with overall spending of almost $100 billion. Once combined with allowance estimates (since many are in their young teen years), this yields $143 billion in Gen Z spending. And it doesn't even factor in the youngest Gen Xers who earn money by mowing lawns and babysitting. Considering that this Neilsen study shows Millennial spending at just over $65 billion, these numbers are staggering. Now factor in the Gen X influence on family spending and household purchases and there's a real wow-factor. 93 percent of today's parents say their children influence spending; it's time for brands to invest in a better understanding of this high-impact generation.

While research is still young, here's what those studying this cohort have to say so far.

They want to be heard and have the means to do it.

As YouTube stars, social media influencers, and reality TV celebrities with impressive stories of success, the media is already attracted to this industrious generation. They also rely heavily on online reviews and the opinions of online communities to determine their purchases. This group has a voice and the platforms to be heard, so marketers must guard their online reputations more now than ever.

Trust and authenticity are big for them.

Gen-Zers find it important to trust brands and 43 percent of them do trust many long-established brands. They want to see authenticity in marketing, including proof and a culture to back up claims of strong company values.

They prefer quality over quantity in social media.

This generation is vocal and influential; however, they do not feel they need large numbers of followers on their social platforms to have an impact. They prefer smaller groups of close-knit followers. This means that celebrity endorsements will soon go by the wayside, since only 19 percent admire something or someone because they have a mass following.

They value authenticity.

Authenticity and company values influence purchasing decisions for this generation. With 67 percent of those surveyed agreeing that "being true to their values and beliefs makes a person cool," and they feel the same about brands.

They are money-minded.

Surveys show that this generation is concerned about the cost of education and about accruing debt. 21 percent of Gen Zers opened savings accounts before the age of 10. This segment of our population won't be renting a property for long. Like their great-grandparents, this generation aspires to the traditional American value of owning a home.

They recognize that social media has a downside. 

Over 90% of Gen Z is consuming content on social media. Their time is mostly split between Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, and less so between Pinterest, WhatsApp, and Tumblr. What's interesting is that 62% of them feel that social media has a positive impact on them, 67% say it sometimes makes them feel sad, anxious, and even depressed. There's a sense that they are missing out on life.

Smart advertisers will keep this in mind and create content that builds confidence and connects people rather than foster insecurity with ads that depict perfection.

They want conversation and relevance.

Organic reach on social media platforms has fallen so low that many say it's no longer viable for reaching an audience. Gen Z looks for one-to-many and one-to-one branded content, so brands need to invest in sponsored and organic content. Over 50% of Gen Z social media users have purchased items they first saw in a paid social ad.

With the oldest of the Gen Z population at 22 years of age, it may be tempting to put off acknowledging the influence and power they wield. No matter what product or service you offer this is your future audience so it's time to introduce some changes to your marketing approach. It's sure to pay off quickly. 

Published on: Apr 23, 2018