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Remember This When Targeting Gen Z This Holiday Season

Posted on 12.13.2015

:: By Samara Anderson, redpepper ::


The stockings are hung, the tree is lit and the wish lists are long. The holiday season is upon us...and with it comes a frenzy of frazzled shoppers looking to find that perfect last minute gift. But are retailers armed with the right tools to effectively reach their newest consumers?

Born between the mid-90’s and 2010, Generation Z is the first generation of true digital natives - growing up with computers, mobile phones and tablets; they have never known a world that isn’t connected at all times. And because of their early exposure to brands and branded content, this generation may also be on its way to becoming the most sophisticated consumers the world has yet seen. Although members of Gen Z are still considered more influential to buying habits than actually holding the purse strings, their shopping preferences are important to consider. Here are the main ideas to keep in mind when catering to Gen Z this holiday season:

They Are Adept Researchers

Although their attention may be frenzied and across many channels, they are more informed than previous generations and keenly aware of the small details. From balancing multiple social presences to keeping up with current digital trends, Gen-Z’s focus is spread thin. After all, they have been known to :multitask on up to 5 screens at a time" according to Social Factor. Despite the fractured focus, teens are keen on details and don’t let much pass them by. Gen Z’ers are masters of research. Due to their deep knowledge of technology, members of Gen Z will make their own decision about whether or not they want to shop with you before they’ve ever visited your store. Technology has allowed Gen Z’ers to self-educate, giving them the ability to find information on their own. In order to effectively reach this generation during the holiday shopping season, it’s important that retailers keep a consistent in-store and online experience.

They Are Tech Savvy

Having grown up during Facebook, Twitter and even the iPhone, this group is tech savvy and expects nothing less from the retailers they shop with. Teens and tweens are on the hunt for constant connectivity, and they are flocking to social channels that showcase photography and video. YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat and Vine currently reign supreme with Gen Z as they provide creative outlets and access to almost instantaneous peer affirmation. Social media has become the ultimate definition of “Internet” to them. Retailers should ensure that their brand presence is available throughout the entire online experience.

They are Socially Aware

This young generation shows a major preference for brands that are just as socially aware as they are. The naivete generally associated with tweens is lost on Gen Z as they observe current events and the plights of people spanning the globe. They’re very aware of what’s going on in the world and are concerned about issues such as climate change and terrorism. According to research conducted by Sparks and Honey, 26 percent of 16-19 year olds currently volunteer, and 76 percent are concerned about the impact we are making on the planet. Because of this, they are also keeping tabs on how brands impact the world and whether or not they are socially responsible and responsive. Brands like TOMS and Warby Parker have found huge success among Generation Z through their “Buy One, Give One” initiatives. Retailers need to consider marketing strategies that allow for Gen Z’ers to give back while they shop this season. 

They Are Value Driven

Interestingly enough, Gen Z’ers have a tight hold on their wallets, preferring to hunt for the best price. A recent article by CNBC states that more than half of Gen Z’ers consider themselves deal hunters, and their product research habits are increasing as they grow older. With access to an endless flow of information as a result of being born during the digital age, taking advantage of available technological resources comes second nature to this savvy generation. Gen Z’ers aren’t willing to hand out just any amount for the latest trend; technology allows them to easily compare prices between companies. Retailers need make sure they are offering the most compelling price possible to reach this young generation.

Gen Z’ers currently account for a quarter of the U.S. population - and their opinions matter to retailers. To successfully reach this generation this holiday season, retailers need to maintain a consistent brand experience, regulate their prices and up their social awareness as well as their social presence. Meet them on their level, and Gen Z will be good to you in return.


Samara Anderson is a retail strategist at redpepper, a full-service, integrated advertising and marketing agency that specializes in producing creative ideas that provide real results.

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