How to tap into Gen Z's $143 billion spending power

Kelsey Formost

06 Oct 2020 · 3 min read

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Kids these days...are doing pretty much everything online. And it’s not just because they’re stuck inside this year. It’s because they’ve grown up living a digitally-driven lifestyle.

Gen Z is the title given to the group of people born between 1995 and 2010, meaning young folx currently between the ages of 10-25. They make up about 35% of the global population and according to a report by Zebra IQ they boast $143 Billion in spending power.

So how do brands gain access to the hearts and wallets of a youth population that’s used to being “sold to” online?

Keep it short & mobile friendly

One of the factors that makes Gen Z so interesting is that they are the world’s first “mobile first” generation, meaning ownership of a personal mobile device has been commonplace during their entire lifespan. Therefore it’s no surprise that Gen Z’ers get most of their information on everything from world news to the latest trends from social media.

As a result of constant digital stimulation and quick easy access to information and entertainment via their phones, Gen Z is thought to have the shortest attention span of any generational group. Short-form video is by far and away the format of choice for content consumption. Short and entertaining videos that quickly get to the point are easily the most effective way to connect with a Gen Z audience.

An intentionally unfiltered aesthetic

Gen Z has grown up under a digital microscope, which makes them perhaps the most aware of the mental and emotional toll that can come with trying to live up to unrealistic and unattainable standards depicted on social media. Because of this, Gen Z is shown to place an extremely high value on authenticity, continually seeking out or building “safe havens” where they can be themselves on the internet without fear of bullying or negativity.

This aversion to insta-perfectionism is one of the reasons trusted influencers are so effective in connecting with Gen Z audiences; authenticity builds a sense of comfort and mutual trust. If a Gen Z consumer has chosen to follow a certain influencer and considers themselves part of that influencer’s online community, that consumer is much more likely to be ‘influenced’ by the advice, opinion, or example of that influencer.

Stop selling, start sharing

Because they’ve grown up spending hours a day interacting with social media, Gen Z is used to being “sold to” on digital platforms and has a low tolerance for ad content that feels, well, like an ad. This is why influencer marketing is so much more effective than traditional advertising (11X more effective according to reports).

Because Gen Z is so sensitive to being served “fake” or “filtered” posts, their content will often have an intentionally “messy” look. Photos and videos are taken from an unflattering angle or purposely highlight flaws and imperfections in order to show the real, relatable side of the influencer.

It’s also worth noting that Gen Z places an extremely high value on customer reviews. In fact, a study done by Bright Global found that 91% of millennials trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends and family. When brands partner with influencers to share their thoughts and review a product via their platform, they’re tapping into that trust.

Inclusivity & Social Consciousness

More than any other generation, Gen Z places high importance on inclusivity and attention to social issues. Because of this, it’s crucial brands make their values clear in a very public way, and one way to do that is through creator partnerships.

Brands that make an effort to celebrate diversity by partnering with a wide variety of ambassadors and representatives see a positive effect on their bottom line, their brand reputation, and increased customer loyalty. If brands put their money where their mouth is, consumers will want to support that brand and will follow suit with their own dollars.

The same goes for social issues; brands that make a concerted effort to take a stand on issues like climate change, political movements, and gender politics will see a much more invested fanbase of Gen Z consumers.

The Generation of Trendsetters

One thing’s certain: Gen Z has not only serious spending power themselves, but power to shape the way other generations spend as well. The trends and behaviors adopted by Gen Z have a huge effect on global culture at large.

Gen Z is the first generation to make the internet a place for genuine connection rather than simply solo content consumption. This attitude of community fosters a sense of closeness and shared values. Marketers who focus on cultivating that sense of inclusivity, authenticity, and “no filter” campaigns will invariably have a better chance at connecting with a Gen Z audience.

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