Generation Z: Consumer Trends

GlobalData Thematic Research 12th March 2021 (Last Updated March 12th, 2021 10:18)

One of the most distinctive characteristics of Gen Z is their dependence on digital technology.

Generation Z: Consumer Trends
Credit: I-AM.

Gen Z consumers perceive their devices and digital personas to be extensions of themselves, creating new imperatives for brands with respect to how shopping experiences and marketing communications are conceived. Significantly, their innate ability to utilise connected technologies in order to influence others gives this cohort a voice that is louder than their comparatively small size would otherwise suggest.

Consumer Trends

Listed below are the key consumer trends impacting the Generation Z theme, as identified by GlobalData

Conscious spending

As a generation coming of age during a recession, fractured politics, and exposure to “fake news”, consumers in this cohort are understandably cynical or even distrustful of established institutions and corporations. Their shopping habits will reflect this, as consumers more rigorously hold brands accountable for their actions.

Tokenistic efforts to display social and environmental responsibility will no longer suffice; consumers will choose brands that wholeheartedly embrace corporate social responsibility (CSR), from ethical business practices and a commitment to sustainability, transparency, and philanthropy.

Consumption as self-expression

Young consumers are strongly inclined to express their identity through their brand choices. This is in part what is driving the importance of CSR efforts, as social and environmental minded consumers choose brands whose business practices reflect their values. From a marketing perspective, communication and promotional efforts will need to revolve around platforms such as Instagram and Twitter, which enable self-expression and nurture online identities.

Holistic wellness

As consumer societies gain a more advanced understanding of health through advances in science and technology, each new generation recognises that improving and maintaining health is a complex and multifaceted undertaking. Gen Z acknowledges that achieving optimum health involves not only a commitment to physical activity and a nutritious diet, but also encompasses mental and emotional health, environmental wellness, digital wellbeing, and spirituality. A product’s health credentials will, therefore, be judged based on this broader range of considerations.

Focus on mental health

Mental health is taking on a more prominent role in health discussions and social discourse, with much of the attention directed towards the youth population. Indeed, the mental health problems associated with digital technology use disproportionately affect young people, given that social media can have a direct, significant and often negative impact on self-esteem, spurring feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.

More screen time can also interfere with young people’s ability to form genuine and intimate relationships, which are often replaced with fleeting and superficial online connections. Covid-19 has only exacerbated mental health challenges, as lockdown and social distancing measures have aggravated feelings of isolation and loneliness. Brands that offer an evidence-based approach to tackling mental health issues are likely to resonate strongly with Gen Z consumers.

Value of personalisation

Gen Z consumers expect all their brand interactions and experiences to be tailored specifically to them. They resent being treated as a homogenous group and want brands to deliver content that displays an understanding of their values, attitudes, and lifestyle. However, they also understand that the trade-off for personalisation is privacy, and while many consumers will gladly engage in such a transaction, the long-term risks of foregoing privacy are being increasingly cautioned.

This is an edited extract from the Generation Z – Thematic research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.