Understanding Gen Z Consumers

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Boca Raton, FL — With a projected spending power of $44 billion, gen Z accounts for 61 million consumers, of which more than 90 percent regularly eat chocolate and candy, according to John Gerzema, CEO of Harris Insights & Analytics/The Harris Poll.

Pulling back the curtain and revealing the characteristics of the cohort, he explained that gen Z is a “triple A” generation: “They are ambitious, anxious and activists.”

Ambitious: More than 50 percent of gen Z saying they’ll start their own business, as they see zero barriers to entry, according to Gerzema. “They have the technology, tools and community to get things done and they are looking at the world and want to change it,” he said.

They also want to be engaged by companies on their terms, with nearly 80 percent saying they expect responses from a business within one day of reaching out.

Anxious: “The world’s macro issues are in the bedroom’s of gen Z and are keeping them up at night,” Gerzema said, detailing that mass shootings, climate change and rising rates of suicide weigh heavy on the demographic.

However, they channel that anxiety in ways other generations hadn’t as they are more than willing to discuss issues such as mental health and the importance of a holistic approach to wellness.

“The result is they take that anxiety and ambition and turn it into action,” he added.

Activists: Nearly half of gen Z said they would sue the federal government on social issues if they had the money to do so, highlighting the cohort’s activist mindset. Further, 39 percent say they will switch brands if a company doesn’t treat its employees well, and 36 percent have shunned brands in the past because of a response, or lack there of, to an issue, according to Gerzema.

Quite surprisingly, he explained the generation that grew up digital natives are starting to get burnt out on technology, with many turning to ways of the past such as flip phones and cassettes. Additionally, almost three-quarters of the cohort report displeasure with being targeted by ads on social media.

However, the generation still uses technology to connect with each other and experience new things. For example, one of the hottest trends among the generation is “Instagram museums,” spaces designed to offering the perfect photo-op.

Gen Z also uses shareable foods to connect with their peers, with inclusiveness being a bedrock ideal of the generation. Further, they are interested in real life, or “IRL” connections with nearly 90 percent reporting they would rather have 10 friends in real life as opposed to 1,000 on Facebook.