Often overshadowed by the preceding generation, America’s iGeneration, aka Generation Z, defined as Americans ages 9 to 21, is finally coming into their own, edging in on Millennials’ turf as a key consumer demographic with their own unique set of characteristics, according to new research from Mintel. The company surveyed 1,500 younger iGens and 209 older iGens.
- 83% of iGeneration (ages 9 to 17) love “getting stuff in the mail,” so direct mail may be a good way to reach this market.
- 68% post selfies online.
- 50% have used only images/pictures to communicate, including 60% using only emojis to communicate, which represents shortened attention spans and drives for immediate gratification.
- 52% of younger iGens have provided a peer with their social media handle in lieu of a phone number.
- 56% keep their social media profiles private, and 34% post anonymous social media platforms, so they are taking precautions when sharing information online.
“While Millennials are often called ‘digital natives,’ the term more accurately describes the iGeneration. iGens age 13 and older are extremely social-media literate, and using images to ‘talk’ to each other is second nature,” says Fiona O’Donnell, category manager, multicultural, lifestyles, leisure and travel at Mintel.
“However, iGens turn to the Internet to connect and be entertained—not to be sold to,” she adds. “While older iGens are likely having their digital inboxes filled with promotional materials, brands may be missing a huge opportunity by foregoing direct mail, a channel where we know they are open to brand engagement.”
- 67% of older generations perceive iGens (ages 18 to 21) as being tech-obsessed, who also highly value personal connections.
- 73% of older iGens say they need to spend time in-person to feel connected to others.
- 58% of younger iGens need to talk face-to-face to feel connected.
Younger iGens associate positive characteristics with themselves, such as:
- 37%, “hard-working”
- 54%, “responsible”
- 70%, “smart”
Younger iGens associate less flattering characteristics with their peers, such as:
- 27%, “busy”
- 38%, “trendy”
- 52%, “always on a cell phone”
“While attitudes and behaviors related to social media are unique in some ways to iGens, our research indicates that they show concerns for the quality of online interactions and value personal, face-to-face connections,” O’Donnell says. “As a result, brands do not necessarily need to start at square one when marketing to iGens.
“Keeping in mind boundaries for their online privacy, brands should engage with iGens through campaigns that employ themes similar to how they see themselves, including ‘hard-working’ and ‘responsible.’”
Having grown up in an increasingly diverse society, the oldest iGens are more likely to display an inclusive attitude when it comes to relationships, as well as feeling good about the impact those relationships have on society:
- 69%, interracial couples (58% for overall consumers)
- 57%, gay marriage (39%)
- 51%, individuals having children later in life (45%)
- 69% of iGens (ages 18 to 21) believe that increasing diversity in the United States is a positive for society.
“Even more so than Millennials, iGens have grown up with greater exposure to other cultures, ethnicities, and alternative lifestyles relative to older generations. Gay marriage, transgender individuals, and interracial couples are more commonplace for the youngest generation, and, as a result, iGens’ attitudes are less about tolerance and more of a celebration of differences,” O’Donnell says. “And with young people having at least some idea about global issues, iGens are confident to take a side and express an opinion which can have an impact on their brand loyalties.
“Companies that cater to this generation should consider how taking a stance on controversial issues can help or hinder their relationship with the iGen audience.”