A brand’s authenticity is more important to Gen Z than it was to preceding generations. This is one of the findings from two recent studies into the shopping attitudes and behaviors—and the emotional drivers—of Generation Z (aged 21 and under) by IRI in partnership with The Family Room LLC. Findings also show that Gen Z’s preferences tend to significantly influence the purchase behaviors of their household.
“Gen Z is deeply motivated by authenticity and a brand’s emotional DNA, which we define as how completely a product or brand aligns with the values shoppers attribute to it,” says Robert I. Tomei, president of consumer and shopper marketing and core content services for IRI. “Because Gen Z shoppers rely more on brand recognition to make purchase decisions than their Millennial counterparts, it is critical that manufacturers and retailers create transparent and authentic relationships with the Gen Z population early on to build loyalty as their purchasing power grows.”
Additional highlights from the study:
- Gen Zers actively participate in their family’s grocery shopping. IRI’s study found that 47% of older Gen Zers (aged 18-21) participate in their household’s grocery shopping. Parents say their Gen Z kids influence what they buy at the grocery store.
- They don’t find personalization creepy—38% think it’s cool to get ads or promotions in their social media feeds for products based on their interests/shopping habits. That’s much higher than their Millennial counterparts—21% for young Millennials (aged 22-30) and 30% for older Millennials (aged 31-40). And 42% of younger Gen Z kids see personalization as a great way to discover new products/services.
Gen Z is deeply motivated by authenticity and a brand’s emotional DNA.
- They want variety. IRI’s study found product variety (i.e., flavors) very important to the Gen Z’s cohort that substantially influences the buying behaviors of their households. The number of unique Universal Product Codes (UPCs) purchased in households with Gen Z kids are significantly higher than those without. For example, in the cold cereal category, Gen Z households purchased 12.4 unique UPCs per household compared with only 7.6 unique UPCs purchased by households without a Gen Z member.
- They define healthy lifestyle broadly—62% said that “Feeling Good About Who I Am” is part of being healthy, and 62% cited “Staying Positive” as a major contributor to health. These responses underscore the values-based, holistic approach Gen Z brings to all of their interactions, including those with brands.
- They want to be a part of the feedback loop. Both studies’ findings show that Gen Z has little interest in or patience for brands that try to “sell them” without sincerely working to get to know them. They want to be an active part of the brand relationship and want a feedback loop and an interactive dialog.
“Gen Z is fueled by possibility,” says Lynne Gillis, principal of Survey and Segmentation for IRI. “They see windows where others see walls. They are not afraid to create things that they want but cannot find. They truly do want to be part of the innovation process. But they want purposeful, collaborative innovation. If new products or services are not highly aligned with their specific needs and values and don’t fulfill a meaningful purpose, they’re quick to dismiss them. To accomplish this and reach them, manufacturers and retailers must leverage the power of personalization to reach Gen Z.”