Learning Your ABZs

The youngest group of consumers is going to change the world. Are you ready for them?

By 
Samantha Oller, Senior Editor/Fuels, CSP

Mitch Morrison, Vice President & Retail Executive Platform Director, Winsight

Erik J. Martin, CSP Correspondent

Illustrations by Nick Shepherd

Get to Know Gen Z

Get out of the way, millennials—there’s a new kid in town. Gen Z, very broadly defined as anyone born between 1993 and 2010, is the first age group to grow up plugged into smartphone technology.

This shapes not only how they view the world but also prioritizes how they interact with it. And considering they will make up 40% of consumers by 2020, retailers should know what makes them tick.

Altruistic

With news of world chaos and tragedy all over, Gen Z takes solace in giving back.

“Generation Z is really into altruism and charities, so they like brands that have a cause, and a brand with a cause justifies the price point,” says generational expert Nancy Nessel. “They are also big into volunteering, and want to save the world.”

Diverse

Say hello to the most ethnically diverse generation in American history, roughly one-half Caucasian and one-half Hispanic, African-American, Asian or multiracial. Meanwhile, 74% of Gen Z surveyed by Northwestern University believe in equal rights for transgender people.

Any message intended for this group must reflect this multicultural, inclusive viewpoint.

Entrepreneurial

“Be your own boss” is a motto for Gen Z.

According to a Northwestern University survey, 42% of Gen Z expects to work for themselves at some point in their working lifetime. (Only 11% of Americans are currently self-employed.)

Focused on Better Food

According to Technomic, Gen Z is more likely than the general population to say better-tasting, higher-quality, more varied and more healthful options would encourage them to buy prepared food at c-stores.

And a survey by The NPD Group shows Gen Z is more likely than millennials to prefer home-cooked over ready-to-eat meals.

Mobile Lovers

Like millennials, Gen Z shows less of an interest in driving or owning a car than older generations. For those who do want an automobile, their wish list is topped by fuel efficiency--think compacts--and hybrids.

Next: Hungry Youth Truths