5 Things Every Company Should Know About Gen Z

Over the past ten years, it's been all about Millennials. Companies and retailers wanted to know everything they could about Millennial behaviors and the products they like, in the hopes of turning them into new customers.

But now it's 2016, and times are changing. There is a new, younger generation, aged between 12 and 20, catching the attention of businesses. At nearly 70 million people, 90% of which have a digital footprint, Generation Z is quickly becoming a valuable group of consumers.

You might think it would be easy to assume that they are just an exaggerated version of the generation that came before them, spending even more of their lives on social media, doing even more of their shopping online, and demonstrating an ever greater collaborative nature. But Generation Z grew up in a drastically different world than millennials, which has given them a very particular outlook on the world.

How can brands relate to the first generation of kids who learned to swipe before they could walk? Here are 5 Things every company is getting wrong about Generation Z, and what you can do to get this generation's attention.

1) Gen Z prioritizes efficiency first

According to a recent survey by Ernst & Young, each generation has different reasons for shopping online.

63% of Gen Z that was polled said that they shopped online because it "saves them time," however only 55% of millennials said the same. 53% of Gen Z in the poll said that "the online selection is better." Only 44% of millennials said the same.

50% of Gen Z'ers agreed with the statement that "the prices are lower online," whereas only 41% of Millennials said the same. 34% of Gen Z said that the "products online are organized in a way that's easier to shop." Only 21% of millennials said the same, you get the point: Generation Z is most likely to shop online as they find it to be more efficient.

2) Gen Z hates when things don't work

According to Gen Z marketing strategist Deep Patel, when things don't work the way they're expected to, Gen Z feels disrespected. "Generation Z has been treated with respect or equality much more so than other generations because so much of their activity happens online," explains Marcie Merriman, executive director of growth strategy and retail innovation at Ernst & Young. "Online, nobody knows if they're a kid or not."

"Within these other areas of their life, they're treated as almost mini adults. They're treated as people with knowledge and respected." As a result, shopping at a clothing store can be a turnoff.

3) They're careful buyers

A YouthLogix infographic revealed Generation Z doesn't just differ in terms of how they look at brands--they're also shopping differently altogether. Generation Z grew up hearing about how so many millennials ended up living at home after college, sitting on a tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Gen Z also grew up during the 2008 recession, so they tend to be particularly financially cautious.

A polling by Goldman Sachs of 400 Gen Z'ers aged 12 to 20 found that they are starting to save their money far earlier than than Millennials and generations before them, 60% of them already have savings accounts and 71% say they are focused on saving for their futures. Gen Z has three top 3 priorities: finding a stable job, finishing college, and saving their money for the years to come. This generation rates these goals above traveling, working out, and even spending time with friends or family.

The study showed that there are many similarities between Gen Z and the generation that was born in the years following the Great Depression in 1929. When you think about the 'greatest generation' having gone through the Depression and how they taught their children to save, that's what this generation of parents have been teaching Gen Z after the 2008 recession.

4) Facebook is their biggest social network

If I asked you to name the platform that occupies the most of Gen Z's time, you would probably guess Snapchat, and you almost certainly wouldn't guess Facebook, which has a reputation for attracting older adults more than millennials and Gen Z, but while Snapchat is the most-used platform for 51% of Gen Z; all the talk about teens and tweens shunning Facebook is largely misconception.

"Facebook is constantly innovating and bringing users all kinds of new reasons to use it."
According to Fluent, a marketing agency, 67% of older Gen Z'ers regularly use Facebook, while 50% name the Facebook-owned Instagram--only one percentage point behind Snapchat. Facebook was also named by 26% of respondents as the social network they use "constantly," compared with 23% for Snapchat. Nearly half of respondents said they log onto Facebook multiple times a day.

"The teens we surveyed directly actually classify Facebook as the most important social channel because it's such a comprehensive directory of people and brands,". "For them, it's like the modern-day phonebook. There's a ton of information they don't pay attention to--until they need it."

5) You need to get to the point

It's been said that Gen Z has reduced attention spans and less patience due to the use of apps like Vine and Snapchat. But that doesn't mean they can't, or won't, pay attention to worthwhile content. This is the same generation known for watching hours of live video-game streams and 20-minute YouTube beauty tutorials through to the end. It's getting Gen Z's attention that's the tricky part. This generation expects fast and efficient content, if they think for even a second that you're wasting their time, they'll swipe away.