Just as we were getting used to the term millennial, along comes Generation Z.
This is the latest subset of the much maligned millennial moniker, these are the youngest consumers on the planet.
But they are a much hardier bunch, with surveys and report depicting them as a hard-working, socially conscious and pragmatic generation.
The oldest Gen Z people were born in the early to mid-1990s, while the youngest haven’t even hit their spending stride and are younger than 13.
What makes them so special is that this is the generation that grew up entirely connected. For whom high speed broadband and handheld devices have always been part of their lives.
They are also the generation for start-ups and marketers to watch, as they are rapidly becoming the most powerful spenders on the planet.
It’s not that they have tonnes of cash to burn – although they are voracious consumers it’s that they have a lot of influence over where the cash is splashed.
It’s estimated that Gen Z influences as much as $600b of family spending every year, despite only spending $45b themselves.
A separate report, the much fabled Cassandre report, backed that up, finding that 93% of parents say their Gen Z kids influence family spending decisions and household purchases.
Not just that, but this switched on generation is going to dominate the market for years to come. By 2020, it’s estimated that they will account (one way or the other) for 40% of the consumer market.
So if there is no doubting that entrepreneurs and start-ups should be targeting this upwardly mobile generation, the next question is how.
The answer, of course, is through digital.
When I say digital, I mean, everywhere that is digital. The the Gen Z crowd are even outdoing your traditional millennials in being addicted to tech, with an average of five screens being used on a regular basis (smartphone, TV, laptop, desktop, and tablet)
And when I say digital I also mean, be fast. As surveys have shown the average Gen Z’er – thanks to growing up in an era of information overload – has an attention span of just eight seconds.
It doesn’t mean they are goldfish, but rather the bombardment of media means they process and assess large amounts of data quickly.
The worst news for the brick and mortar brigade is that more than half (55%) of under 18s would rather buy clothes online, while 53% say the same about their book and electronic purchases.
Any start-up that wants to target these groups will most likely be successful on social media, with more than a third of Gen Z wanting to be reached by brands on social platforms.
And while they aren’t going to swallow every message you throw at them, 22% of Gen Z consumers say they do trust messages pushed to them on social.
But it seems the most effective way to reach a Gen Z consumer is going to be through a good loyalty scheme or an offer. A huge number – 38% to be precise – say they try to use rewards every time they shop.
That gives brands who have a well rounded data driven loyalty strategy a huge advantage.
Also, find out why Asia is ahead of the game when it comes to social commerce here.
Adam Flinter is managing partner at Golden Equator Consulting, a company which helps start-ups, SMEs and mid-stage businesses with their strategy and growth.