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UPDATE November 12, 2018 — Born in the time between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, Generation Z occupies a nebulous age bracket. Even so, the individuals that make up Generation Z have many characteristics that make them easily distinguishable from the preceding generations.
Most significant, though, is Gen Z’s affinity for the internet. As “digital natives”, Generation Z presents a unique challenge and lucrative opportunity for digital marketers. In fact, Gen Z already makes up an astonishing $44 billion in annual purchasing power.
We’ve collected the major Generation Z statistics to give marketers a better picture of this developing consumer demographic:
Generation Z is expected to reach 2.56 billion individuals globally by 2020. Within the US, Gen Z will reach 84.7 million by 2020, making up 24.7% of the American population. Gen Z is the third-largest age group in the US, lagging behind Millennials and Gen X in terms of total numbers. This gap will likely not be closed for at least another 20 years. Currently, 1 in 5 Americans belongs to Generation Z. By 2025, however, Gen Z will grow to become the largest generation at 29% of the population.
Generation Z grew up with smartphones, and it is estimated that 98% of Generation Z owns a smartphone compared to 96% in 2016. Across all teens, 78% use a smartphone, while 87% of 18-24-year-olds use the device.
Breaking down younger Gen Z demographics, 68% of American 13-14-year-olds own a smartphone and 76% of 15-17-year-olds own a smartphone. Moreover, the importance of smartphones in Gen Z lives is reflected in a generational attitude towards smartphone ownership. For instance, individuals in Gen Z are 4 times more likely than Millennials to believe that age 13 is the appropriate age for a first smartphone.
Social media is one of the most powerful ways brands can reach out to Gen Z consumers. Over 85% of Generation Z will learn about new products through social media and 69% will visit a store based on a retailer’s social media post. Opinions that Gen Zers get from their social networks are extremely powerful, influencing 8 out of 10 individuals to shop at a retailer they have never shopped at before. Finally, 83% of those in Gen Z will trust product information shared by other shoppers on social media more than advertising. Diving deeper, 45% of teens use Instagram to find new products, followed by 40% who use Facebook. Gen Zers are twice as likely as Millennials to turn to YouTube before making a purchase.
As digital natives, a majority of Generation Z will be connected online for at least 1 hour, and close to half are connected online for an incredible 10 hours a day. In the UK, Generation Z reportedly spends 10.6 hours engaging with online content each day. Total time spent online may be a result of the 5 screens available to Gen Z, who use smartphones, TVs, laptops, desktops, and tablets simultaneously. On mobile alone, more than half of Generation Z spends more than 6 hours a day. Gen Z’s connection to the internet impacts them emotionally, with nearly 80% feeling distress when kept away from personal electronic devices.
Online video marketing is a critical component that advertisers will need to master in order to reach Generation Z. On average, Gen Z members watch 68 videos per day. Approximately 71% of Gen Zers spend more than three hours per day watching online videos, a significant difference from the 32% who spent only one hour doing the same in 2016. YouTube is considered by 80% of Gen Z to be the destination for online video, however, Facebook video is quickly catching up with 79% considering the platform as a video hub.
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Generation Z values authenticity and realistic narrative in advertisements. This is evidenced by Generation Z’s preference for influencer marketing. 67% of Gen Z prefer real people in ads. In 2016, 63% of Gen Z preferred to see social media influencers in advertisements and 37% preferred celebrities. As Gen Z grows and begins to occupy the workforce, marketers will need to consider leveraging the creators on social media that so heavily influence Generation Z.
Gen Z is set to be the most financially powerful generation in the coming years. Having not yet reached adulthood, Gen Z accounts for $830 billion per year in the U.S., covering 6.8% of total U.S. consumer spending each year. Currently, the average weekly allowance is estimated to be $16.90 in the U.S., which gives teens and children direct purchasing power of $44 billion a year. As Gen Z grows to make up 40% of all U.S. consumers, they will become a massive economic force.
America’s Gen Z is expected to be very diverse, as over 50.2% of children will identify as mixed race or as part of an ethnic group in 2020. The “minority white” population will comprise 49.7% of the population in contrast to 24.6% for Hispanics, 13.1% for blacks, 7.9% for Asians, and 3.8% for multiracial populations. Further, just over 33% of children are projected to be non-Hispanic white by 2060. This growth is reflected in racial composition trends today and in the recent past. Between 2000 and 2010, the country’s Hispanic population grew at four times the rate of the rest of the country. Moreover, the number of mixed white-and-black biracial and the number of mixed white-and-Asian grew 134% and 87%, respectively. Overall, Gen Z is optimistic about diversity in regards to gender, race, and sexuality.
Born in a world of immediate answers and infinite choices, Gen Zers have an average attention span of 8 seconds as compared to the 12-second attention span of Millennials. Social media platforms have curated advertising options to this audience, from Vine’s 6-second videos, Snapchat’s 10-second story limit, and YouTube’s 6-second pre-roll ad. However, distracted Generation Z may be, these individuals are lauded for their ability to multitask on the computer.
Generation Z is the most likely to have installed ad blocking software in comparison to Millennials or Gen X, with 51% of Gen Z using ad blocking technology compared to 31% in 2017. Gen Z is also the most resistant to advertisements. For instance, less than 25% of Gen Z had a positive perception of four major ad categories (online search, online display, desktop video, and mobile video).
For comparison, Generation Y and Gen X did not fall below 25% in any of the categories. Furthermore, 36% and 42% of Gen Zers have negative attitudes towards non-skippable pre-roll ads and pop-ups, respectively. On the other hand, less invasive ads such as skippable pre-rolls and mobile rewards videos achieve net positive scores. If given the option, 82% of Gen Zers will skip ads as fast as they can, 69% will physically do something to distract themselves for 30-to-60 seconds until the ad finishes, and 40% will stare at the ad until it goes away.
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Facebook used to be the most popular channel for all generations, including Generation Z, constantly checked by over 1 out of 4 Gen Zers at one time. Now, only 9% of Gen Z says Facebook is their preferred social media platform. Facebook is more popular among Millennials, used primarily to connect with high school friends, college friends, and family. On the other hand, Instagram and Snapchat will be used by Gen Z to connect with closer friends, with 34% and 35% checking the respective apps daily. Gen Z is also the first generation to check Instagram more than YouTube, Snapchat, and Twitter.
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