Youthful consumers that comprise “Generation Z” are becoming a powerful economic force. The group — comprised of preteens, teens, and young adults – is now 2.5 billion strong.
Jason Dorsey, a keynote speaker and co-author of the book Zconomy, has spent years studying Gen Z, and he has news for those running companies like those in the food industry: they’ll need to rethink many of their marketing tactics if they want to connect with today’s young consumers.
Statistics indicate that Gen Z consumers expect the brands they purchase from to exhibit a social conscience. Case in point: according to a national study conducted by The Center for Generational Kinetics (of which Dorsey serves as president), on a $50 purchase, Gen Z is willing to spend an average of $14.45 more when a company or brand supports a social cause that’s important to them.
“I think aligning with causes is something that really speaks to this generation,” Dorsey said.
The Food Institute recently interviewed Dorsey as part of its in-depth report on Gen Z consumers, which will be released on Tuesday, June 22. Below is an excerpt of TFI’s interview with Dorsey, who has spoken about Gen Z on several national TV shows, including “60 Minutes” …
What are some of the most popular brands among Gen Z consumers?
“An easy one to look at is a brand such as Wendy’s and how they use social media to engage. People are also often stunned to know that Chick-fil-A actually has a really strong following with Gen Z.”
How can brands best connect with Gen Z consumers on social media?
“We encourage brands to spend time on TikTok. I know that sounds funny, but TikTok is a place where Gen Z is going. If you’re not engaging on TikTok, which many brands are not, you’re really missing [out].
“Remember, we want to reach them a little bit younger, as teenagers, so that they’re aware of you as their purchasing power not only increases but, more importantly, their autonomy and being able to pick what they want to buy increases.”
Overall, what are some of the biggest misconceptions about Gen Z members?
“Probably the biggest misconception is people get their age wrong; they think they’re all 15 and now they’re actually [in many cases] 23, 24-ish years old. The second is that young people today are just blowing all their money, and that is completely false. In our State of Gen Z study, we proved that Gen Z are big savers. They’re driving double digit growth in thrift stores, [and] they like coupons and loyalty programs.
In many ways they’re what we call a throwback generation. It makes sense, because they came of age around the Great Recession. Now they’re crashing into this pandemic – they saw people lose their jobs, they saw people have all kinds of struggles. So, Gen Z is much more practical with their money than people assume.”