Keep an Eye on Generation Z

A recently released study of over 2,500 students from the University of Mississippi and Purdue University, conducted by MNI Targeted Media, reveals insightful nuggets about both the purchasing behaviors and media consumption habits of the post-millennial generation better known as Generation Z. Advertisers should pay close attention to this group, born between 1995 and 2012, that’s currently a quarter of the U.S. population and is expected to account for 40% of all consumers by 2020.

Gen Z is values oriented – over 50% of those surveyed said that they’re influenced by a brand’s social consciousness in purchasing decisions. Take TV host Laura Ingraham’s recent criticism of the Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg, for instance. Outraged at Ingraham’s point of view related to a very sensitive topic, Hogg and other Parkland survivors led a social media backlash demanding that companies advertising on Ingraham’s show pull their advertising; those companies left in droves shortly thereafter fearing lost sales.

Retail in the digital age is still important, even for younger age groups. The MNI study finds that 98% of Gen Zers are shopping in stores at least some of the time. The tendency for brands is to focus on just digital and drive-to-site, but brands can’t lose sight of the power that retail still holds in multichannel purchase habits. While in the store, 47% use phones to check prices and product reviews. With that in mind, advertisers may find success using multiple touchpoints along the path to purchase. Drive-to-retail, location intelligence mobile tactics such as proximity targeting as well as in-store pre-purchase and point-of-purchase targeting are effective in strengthening purchasing intent, and a retail sales lift study can confirm the effectiveness of such tactics.

While Gen Z is a digitally savvy group, the survey’s findings bode well for legacy media. The survey found that 83% of Gen Zers turn to newspapers for trusted information and content, and that 34% turn to magazines. The study also found that Gen Zers spend more time reading physical newspapers and magazines without interruption than they do on social media, websites, and blogs. This supports another finding, that 61% of those surveyed feels that their generation could benefit from unplugging more.

It’s important to note that this group represents a subset of the entire Gen Z population. The study includes only college students, a more educated and likely more affluent subset of Gen Z. That said, since they’re at the older end of the Gen Z age range, and probably have greater spending power, they are a highly desirable audience for brands. Brands looking to reach this audience would be best served including magazines and newspapers in their ad budgets based on the study’s findings, and maintaining a socially conscious image is important to drive sales.

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