Four Group Traits That Best Characterize the Gen Z Consumer Segment
Our Gen Z Cultural Traits research provides powerful new insights into America’s youngest and still-emerging consumer demographic. Read on to discover the four essential traits you need to know about Gen Z consumers.
One in five Americans are members of Gen Z, the generation born from 1997 through 2012. As of 2020, this segment is now ages 8-23, with many now finishing their education and (attempting to) enter the workforce. To capture the growing influence and expenditures of this consumer segment, brands and marketers must deepen their understanding of Gen Z.
Download an excerpt from our presentation, Appeal to Gen Z Cultural Traits:
Across the last several years, Collage Group has been developing powerful new tools to help brands become more Culturally Fluent. Our Cultural Traits are central to this effort. These data-driven tools provide measures of cultural variation that reveal insights into the similarities and differences across consumer segments.
Which Group Traits best characterize the Gen Z segment?
The four Group Traits which best characterize the Gen Z segment are Pressured, Skeptical, Recognition-Seeking, and Self-Expression.
People sharing the Group Trait of Pressured tend to feel overwhelmed by their many obligations.
A major source of tension with these individuals is balancing the expectations of achieving external measures of success with the desire to live life the way they truly want to.
Gen Z faces a variety of life-stage pressures which manifest in ways no generation has seen before. Family pressures can be rather intense in the face of households navigating multiple economic disasters in the span of only a decade. Social pressures are more pronounced in the age of social media, where “fitting in” requires constant participation in the editing and filtering of one’s everyday life. And pressures to succeed academically and in the workforce have just recently hit a major roadblock in the combined recession and social distancing of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amidst these pressures, it is important to remind Gen Z consumers that they need to take care of themselves. Despite “self-care” having youthful connotations, America’s youngest consumers are the least likely to prioritize their health – physical, mental, or otherwise.
People sharing the Group Trait of Skeptical lack confidence in their own specific futures and life journeys.Not seeing much to be hopeful for in the world around them, these individuals are more likely to fear the worst and worry about whatever lies ahead.
From Gen Z’s perspective, it makes sense to be worried about the future. From the ever-looming existential threat of climate change to increasing awareness of racism, sexism, wealth inequality, and gun violence, much seems to stand in the way of young consumers living happy and fulfilling lives. Gen Z doesn’t have faith in many traditional institutions as they currently operate, and they are on the lookout for new and innovative solutions.
And Gen Z is very open to brands being part of these solutions. These young consumers are most likely to say that companies and organizations should play an active role in addressing social issues, even if there is no direct relation to their product or category.
People sharing the Group Trait of Recognition-Seeking are proud of their accomplishments and want to receive external recognition for their good work. These consumers are therefore more receptive to positive reinforcement, through reminders of what they have already accomplished and what they still stand to achieve.
Amidst all of today’s challenges and uncertainties, Gen Z wants to know they are on the right track. Moreover, these young consumers know they will have to distinguish themselves to get ahead in an increasingly competitive and specialized workforce. As a result, Gen Z prizes being perceived as intelligent, interesting, and successful at what they do.
But these young consumers also recognize the essential contributions others have had in their success. In the digital age, there is a growing awareness of reliance on shared platforms for educational, professional, and personal achievement.
People sharing the Group Trait of Self-Expression have talent and creative potential they can’t wait to share with the world. These individuals know they have something special to offer, and they are therefore more likely to take whatever opportunities they can find to broadcast their craft and artistry.
For Gen Z, Self-Expression is an important means of exploring and refining their individual senses of identity. Gen Z is more likely than any other generation to describe themselves to others based on their hobbies and special interests. Expressing these interests through creative outlets – including social media – is therefore a more personal affair than it might be for older consumers. Brands have ample opportunity, then, to facilitate Gen Z’s exploration and expression of identity.
Fill out the form below to learn how we can help your brand achieve Cultural Fluency.
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The Self-Aware Generation: How Gen Z Consumers Choose to Self-Identify
From sexuality to star signs, Gen Z self-identifies in more ways than older consumers. Here’s what brands need to know to activate on the many ways America’s youngest consumers self-identify.
Gen Z has grown up in an increasingly diverse and polarized America. At the same time, social media continues to generate new universes of micro-communities, each creating new ways to self-identify. As a result, these young consumers embrace more and more what makes them different, as individuals, rather than what makes them the same as everyone around them.
Given the vast landscape of identities open to Gen Z, it is essential for brands to understand what, if anything, these young consumers do hold in common. Here are some key insights to get you started:
Fill out the form to view a sample from our research on consumer attitudes and behaviors around Gen Z Essential Traits & Self-Identity.
1. Gen Z is the most self-aware of its status as a “generation”.
All individuals born from 1997 through 2012 can claim membership in Generation Z, which follows Generation Y, or the “Millennial” Generation. While there is not yet final consensus on whether Gen Z will receive such a title, we see tremendous interest within the generation in using whatever words are available for self-identification. Almost half of Gen Z consumers use their generational identity to describe themselves to others, with statistically significant differences from each of the other generational segments. With phrases like “ok boomer” and “zoomer humor” ever-present in the Gen Z lexicon, generational identity is very real for these youngest of adult consumers.
2. Gen Z is most likely to think sexuality is important to identity.
Today’s young consumers live in a world which not only accepts sexual identity, but also encourages individuals to celebrate and explore their own sexuality. Gen Z is the most likely generation to identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, and 1 in 5 Gen Z consumers say that sexuality is one of the most important aspects of their identities for self-description, with statistically significant differences from each of the other generational segments. Understanding the LGBTQ+ segment will only increase in importance for brands hoping to earn market share with this segment.
3. Gen Z continues the Millennial trend of embracing “alternative” sources of identity – astrology included!
While they’re not likely to be checking the morning papers for their daily horoscopes, roughly 2 in 5 Gen Z and Millennial consumers leverage the Western zodiac as a tool for self-identification. Apps and online resources allow consumers to gain hyper-personalized “insight” into their astrological identities through star charts and compatibility analysis with contacts who also use the same platforms. Additionally, the Gen Z meme ecosystem provides (often humorous) content which reinforces associations between star signs and individual personality. These webs of association also offer plenty of space for brands to make connections with their product offerings.
Other Recent Gen Z Consumer Research Articles & Insights from Collage Group
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Get on Top of 2020’s Hottest Upcoming genYZ Trend: Voting!
The 2018 U.S. midterm elections saw a dramatic increase in voter participation for younger generations. Here’s what brands and companies need to know about Millennial and Gen Z voter turnout to build consumer equity through the 2020 election and beyond.
We’re less than 100 days from the 2020 presidential election. Over the past weeks, we’ve heard many of our members ask what they can do to best activate on this major, and majorly controversial, occasion. Our answer? Get out the vote.
Recent work by researchers at the Harvard Kennedy School reveals how leading brands have approached voter participation initiatives as part of a strategy for “meeting consumer expectations for engagement in social and political issues, raising brand awareness with new audiences, and increasing employee satisfaction.” In 2020, Gen Z and Millennial consumers will be at the heart of this strategy.
It has long been the conventional wisdom that younger Americans are less likely to vote than retirees who have fewer pressures on their time. But if you take a closer look at the data, a different story emerges – younger consumers value voting more than older generations did at their age.
Just look at voter participation rates. Comparing turnout in the first midterm and presidential elections for Gen X (1990 and 1988), Millennials (2006 and 2004), and Gen Z (2018 and predicted for 2020), we see a clear upward trend. While only 23 percent of eligible Gen X and Millennial consumers voted in their first midterms, 30 percent of Gen Z did. And Collage Group research estimates that at least 59 percent of eligible Gen Z consumers will cast their ballots in 2020, a significant majority compared to previous generations.
What does this all mean for brands and companies? If you want younger consumers to recognize your efforts in promoting social causes, voting must be top of mind. There are plenty of organizations you can partner with and support to accomplish this goal, including:
As part of either these strategic partnerships or your own campaigns, you need to be able to communicate effectively with youth consumers on the issues that matter to them. Out of the box thinking is needed to connect with potential voters who have not already been convinced by the existing messages thrown their way, and brands can take the lead in pushing for such innovation.
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The coronavirus crisis is changing everything in ways we never expected. Read more below to understand our research and review custom options for obtaining detailed reporting and proprietary insights.
The coronavirus crisis has now emerged as a once-a-century transformation in the global economy, with radical impacts on trade-flows, consumer behavior, and spending across every industry. Collage Group members are now in the throes of intensive investigation into consumer response across every category.
Two factors reinforce why this initiative is so important.
Cultural differences impact consumer behavior even more a time of crisis.
Cultural backgrounds significantly influence the neuroloigical “defaults” in human behavior, especially when it comes to health. Consider the progress of COVID-19 in South Korea vs Italy, both democracies in which multigenerational households are common. The differences could not be starker. Indeed, the difference in outcomes could not explained without recourse to an understanding of differences in culture.
The multicultural contribution to growth increases in an economic downturn.
Multicultural consumers will continue to drive the majority of spending growth through this crisis. Indeed, the multicultural contribution to growth has historically increased when the economy shrinks. Indeed, all our projections indicate the contribution can only increase in the future. As you can see from the chart below extracted from our Big Shift research, multicultural response is even more important at this time than in periods of economic strength.
We cover four components in our coronavirus crisis research:
1. Deep Dive Syndicated and Omnibus Survey
Our main survey goes deep into culture factors that are critical to differences in consumer behavior. We incorporate cultural attitudes that impact health and response to risks to health, such as social proximity conventions, multigenerational contact, fatalism, compliance with authority and other factors. The difference between the Italian and Korean situation cited above is probably due to these factors in no small part
We will look at a variety of questions including:
How does consumer reaction to the coronavirus vary across race, ethnicity, and generation, gender?
How do cultural factors such as social proximity, risk aversion and multigenerational interaction impact behavior and motivations across demographics segments?
How are consumers across all segments altering purchasing behavior across and within categories, including stockpiling?
How are consumers viewing the future, where will they spend when the crisis passes and what will be the long-term effects on behavior?
2. Tracking Survey
Our tracker goes beyond top-line reporting. We will look at levels of concern in multiple areas (financial, health, etc) as well as with government and media response. We will also track behavior adoption change which can be used by brands to encourage consumers to “do the right thing” and which may be predictive
3. Revised Spend Projections and Brand Response
We will updating our Annual Population and Expenditure analysis. We will look at a variety of questions including:
How are population and spending projections likely to be altered across race, ethnicity, generation, and gender?
How will these projections alter the outcomes by category?
What are emerging examples of effective marketing during the Coronavirus crisis?
4. Custom Solutions
Questions we are currently address on behalf of members include:
How are consumer behaviors changing with respect to my specific category, brand and consumer segments?
How are my marketing efforts being perceived by consumers?
How Multicultural and Youth Consumers are Reshaping the Video Game Industry
The stunning growth of video games and virtual reality within the entertainment industry is attributable to two core segments: youth and multicultural consumers. Brands need to understand how to leverage this passion point to activate these key segments as gamer culture continues to blend with the mainstream.
By 2023, U.S. revenue from video games, eSports, and virtual reality entertainment will exceed that of either traditional cinema or over-the-top (OTT) video streaming. A massive portion of this spend will be due to multicultural consumers, the segment responsible for 94 percent of growth in video game expenditures between 2010 and 2017. But it’s not just multicultural America—81 percent of U.S. consumers play video games!
Here’s what this opportunity means for marketing strategies:
1. Representations of video games and gaming culture are increasingly important in advertisements portraying multicultural and youth segments.
2. Gaming-focused social media platforms, like Twitch and Mixer, offer new channels to communicate with a growing share of your target consumers
3. Gaming conventions and eSports tournaments, such as E3 and PAX, provide new opportunities to demonstrate a shared passion for this growing source of entertainment.
4. Gaming influencers can speak authentically and directly with tens of millions of online followers across both mainstream and gaming-specific media channels
Games and gaming devicespresent unlimited potential for branded content, in-game activations, advertising, and marketing innovation
As gaming rapidly becomes a mainstream form of entertainment media, it’s becoming increasingly important for brands to understand consumers as gamers—their video game related attitudes, preferences, and behaviors.
The first thing brands need to know is that video games present multiple opportunities to connect with and activate consumers. Much like OTT streaming, there’s an ever-growing list of titles and genres of games available across a variety of devices. And like traditional sports, individuals will sometimes play video games by themselves, and sometimes watch others play. And even when consumers aren’t engaging with video games directly, they follow gaming influencers, share gaming memes, and attend gaming conventions.
Brands also need to understand how to activate consumers through video games. From real-world influencer partnerships and eSports sponsorships to in-game branded content and “avatar activations,” getting video game marketing right requires knowing where your brand has permission to play, and which consumers you are likely to reach.
To provide Collage Group members with an introduction to video games and the consumers who enjoy them, in July 2019 we conducted a nationally representative survey of 1097 respondents, oversampling Gen Z, Millennial, Black, Asian, and Hispanic consumers across acculturation levels for precision within these segments.
Strategic takeaways from our research include:
Gen Z gamers are more likely to watch casual streaming than eSports. Partner with the online/social media streamers delivering casual entertainment to this emerging consumer segment.
Hispanic gamers are most likely to make gaming part of their social lives.Prioritize multiplayer and “party” games, as well as activations at gaming conventions, to reach Hispanic consumers.
Younger gamers are more comfortable with branded content in their games.Think outside of the box! Look out for the opportunities virtual worlds present to show off your brand’s personality.
Understanding how multicultural and youth consumers approach entertainment media is essential for marketing to these already powerful and ever-growing segments. If you are interested in having an initial conversation with our consulting team about methods to deal with this topic, please contact us directly.
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The pressure to compete for gen-Z attention on social media has accelerated the development of task-specific apps. As a result, gen-Z consumers build friend networks that are more focused on each app’s purpose and more independent of the app itself.
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