Is it time to add Generation Z to your marketing watchlist?

  • Categories:

    Industry Trends, Marketing Insights

  • Date:

    July 30, 2018

Is it time to add Generation Z to your marketing watchlist?



Industry Trends, Marketing Insights

Millennials may still be the talk of the town, but there’s a new wave of influential shoppers emerging: Generation Z, which includes anyone born in 1997 or later (Pew Research). 

The oldest members of this new generation are just graduating from college in 2018, meaning they’re barely a blip on the radars of most manufacturers and retailers in the home and building categories. But they’re growing fast: in fact, Generation Z will eclipse the millennial generation by nearly 1 million in 2020 — and 62 percent of members 18 years and older say owning a home is a key part of the American dream (Zillow).

The bottom line? If you haven’t started thinking about Generation Z, it may be time to add a new audience segment to your watchlist.

When we realized our FORM summer internship program represents a de facto Generation Z focus group, we couldn’t wait to get the interns’ take on things like brand loyalty, e-commerce and social media. Here’s what they had to say about their dreams for the future and the marketing that wins their hearts.

What do you like about shopping online? What do you hate about it?

“One of my friends buys clothes exclusively based on what she sees influencers wearing.” ~Hanh Nguyen, digital media intern, University of Georgia, Class of 2020 

“I don’t shop online, but I like to scroll through Instagram, and I definitely notice and remember products that come up in my feed based on things I’ve searched.” ~Jason Colliton, copywriting intern, University of Virginia, Class of 2019

“When I shop online, I feel like I’m getting a better deal, especially if I’m buying any sort of technology.” ~Annie Mohr, public relations and content intern, Georgia Southern University, Class of 2018

“I love that I can do it on my own time, without having to interact with salespeople.” ~Jessica Rapfogel, video intern, Elon University, Class of 2019

“Sometimes, I feel like I need to be able to touch and feel and see things in person to determine their quality.” ~Madison Sowards, client engagement and project management intern, Elon University, Class of 2019

“I don’t like paying for shipping. When I see a $5 charge for shipping, even if I’m getting a good deal on the product, I’m hesitant to buy.” ~Hanh Nguyen

Do you shop around for the best deal, or are you loyal to certain brands?

“If I’m buying something expensive, like home appliances or electronics, I care about the brand. When I shop online and can’t see the product in person, the trust factor becomes even more important.” ~Jessica Rapfogel 

“For any purchase over $100, I tend to stick with brands I know. A lot of people my age buy used furniture, but if I’m shopping for an appliance, I pay attention to the brand.” ~Annie Mohr

“I pay a lot of attention to online reviews. The horror stories are always more interesting — and if I see four or five reviewers complaining about the same issue, I’ll take that to heart. But I have more trust in brands whose customer service reps respond to negative reviews.” ~Jason Colliton

What kind of marketing wins you over? What turns you off?

“Customer service is huge. So is the warranty, especially for bigger purchases.” ~Annie Mohr 

“For our generation, everything is visual. I want to see pictures and videos and learn how the product works. I like seeing home goods in context, so I can visualize them in my space.” ~Madison Sowards 

“I want to see the product in context, too. It’s not enough to see headphones on a neutral background. I want to see them on models to help me understand how they look and if they’re comfortable.” ~Salomon Onyegbulem, UX design and development intern, Art Institute of Charlotte, Class of 2018

“If they have a bad website, I’m out.” ~Kayla Kogelnik, Kent State University, Class of 2018 

Do you remember a time without social media? 

“I don’t remember a time without social media. I also assume the big social media sites, like Facebook, are using my data, so I really don’t have a problem with privacy issues.” ~Jason Colliton

“Our generation understands how to say things and where to say them. For example, I know everyone can’t see my Snapchats, whereas people can search for me on Twitter.” ~Kayla Kogelnik 

“I don’t. And, because I’ve been around it forever, I understand certain content is better for each platform. I wouldn’t say certain things on Facebook, because my grandma follows me there, and I really try to reserve the pristine stuff for Instagram.” ~Annie Mohr

What amenities do you want in an apartment community?

“I have to have a gym.” ~Jason Colliton

“I’d give up all of the amenities if that meant I could have updated furnishings and finishes in my unit.” ~Kayla Kogelnik

“Good Wi-Fi is super important.” ~Annie Mohr

“I don’t want to have to buy my own fridge or washer and dryer. Appliances should be included.” ~Madison Sowards

If you went house hunting today, what would you look for?

“I’m an avid Pinterest user. Pinterest and HGTV form the entire basis of my vision for a home. I’d rather buy than rent. That way, I can make it mine.” ~Madison Sowards

“The safety of the area is really important, especially if I’m living by myself. I’ll pay more for a better neighborhood. But I’m also not in the market for my forever home. Anything I did now would only be for the next three to five years.” ~Annie Mohr 

“I don’t need a new house, but I want it to last until I can invest in renovations later.” ~Jessica Rapfogel

“I don’t trust the homebuying process. Everyone says a home is an investment, but I remember when I was in middle school and the housing market plummeted. A big purchase like that? I think it’s a debt, not an asset.” ~Jason Colliton 

“I want to build my own house. Find some architect friends and draft the plans. Research energy solutions like solar power and turbines. Maybe build an antigravity device to take the house up in the air, so I don’t have to pay taxes on it.” ~Salomon Onyegbulem

“We’re going to see Salomon on the news in 10 years: ‘Man builds flying house.’” ~Jessica Rapfogel

Picture your dream home of the future. What do you see?

“Outdoor living matters to me. I’d get a little shack if it sat on a nice piece of land on the water. Or maybe a treehouse, if I had an easy way to get to it. People make a big deal of the urban living thing, especially younger people, but I don’t think it’s appealing. And I’m from New York.” ~Jessica Rapfogel 

“Homes should have character — they shouldn’t all look the same. I would rather buy an older house with the original wood floors, as long as the appliances are updated.” ~Annie Mohr 

“Modern and on-trend, with great interior design and a nice backyard. Wide neighborhood streets with kids riding their bikes.” ~Hanh Nguyen

“I want a Joanna Gaines fixer-upper.” ~Kayla Kogelnik

“Social media has a huge effect. Everyone’s life looks perfect on social media, and I see pretty things on Pinterest that I can’t have in reality.” ~Jessica Rapfogel

“I want a cute New England colonial-style home. White, with a manicured yard and a fence. I grew up on a cul-de-sac with close neighbors, so I’d want that community feel. In the future, I see that same kind of experience in a more urban environment.” ~Madison Sowards 

“I’ll have a smart home, all the way. It’ll be green, and it’ll be mobile, with lots of space and natural light. I want to integrate artificial intelligence, so my house can do things on command — like rearrange the furniture or relocate to Vegas for the weekend.” ~Salomon Onyegbulem

“Our generation’s always been told, ‘Follow your dreams.’ So, we don’t think about getting a job to support a family as much as living a dream. I have this picturesque life in my head. I want to love what I do and where I live.” ~Jason Colliton