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The Gen Z Consumer


Every generation of consumers presents different habits, preferences, and patterns than the generations that came before them, and Gen Z is shaping up to be no different. If anything, technology has caused consumer preferences to change faster than ever before by presenting a larger marketplace, with more choices. The rising generation of young consumers will be the largest consumer cohort in world history, representing 40% of global consumers. They are also more ethnically diverse, and on track to be better educated than any generation before them.


Consumer-oriented businesses are working hard to understand what drives young consumers, and to tailor advertising and product innovation to their tastes. More and more, they're finding that these younger consumers care about more than just the product they are buying; they also want to know if the company they are purchasing from represents their values75% of Gen Z consumers say they do research to find out whether a company is being honest when it takes a stand on an issue, and the same study shows that 90% believe companies must act on environmental and social issues.


Younger consumers also care more about who they are buying from. As one example, 55% of the customer base of woman-owned businesses is either Gen Z or Millennial -- larger than their share of the overall population.


While all age groups have shown an increasing concern about the environment, this is perhaps not surprisingly even more the case for younger consumers. 37% of Gen Z consumers say the environment is their top personal concern, and surveys show they are willing to spend 10% more to ensure that a product is environmentally sustainable. 


Unsurprisingly, younger consumers spend a disproportionate amount of time online. In fact, 50% of Gen Z'ers say they spend 6 hours or more online per day. More unexpected is the fact that younger consumers still like brick-and-mortar retail, with 77% saying it is their preferred way of shopping.


Catering to Gen Z consumers presents a host of opportunities to retailers and other businesses today, but they might soon have those same consumers as their competition. 72% of Gen Z high schoolers, and 64% of Gen Z college students want to start their own businesses. 


Younger consumers present a fascinating and challenging demographic for today's businesses, and one that is full of opportunities for businesses using the right strategies to reach them. A confluence of fast technological change, rising activism, and growing entrepreneurialism all make this a generation like no other. Businesses will have to change their playbook to stay relevant.

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