Meet Your Brand’s New Largest Consumer Group
If you’re responsible for any aspect of your company’s sales, marketing, or customer experience efforts, you’re no doubt keeping an eye on Gen Z, the up-and-coming generation whose older members began entering adulthood and the working world in the last few years. You might know that these young people (born between 1997 and 2012) already represent USD $420 billion in yearly spending power. You might also know that experts estimate Gen Z will become the world’s largest demographic by 2026.
Those two stats alone represent strong reasons for your company to learn as much as you can about Gen Z: They’re becoming a more powerful consumer force each year, and soon they’ll probably be your brand’s largest group of potential customers.
But there’s another reason that forward-thinking brands are actively studying the values, habits, and worldviews of Gen Z today: These young people are different in many ways from previous generations, and they express these differences in the brands they choose to associate with.
Smart brands and B2C companies need to understand these differences – and adjust their brand engagement strategies accordingly – to win Gen Z’s attention, engagement, trust, and loyalty.
So, let’s explore some of what makes Gen Z such an interesting consumer group.
5 Gen Z Traits Your Brand Needs to Know
1. They’re serious gamers.
Research published in Media Matters finds that 86% of Gen Zers describe themselves as regular gamers.
And according to Deloitte’s research, these young people find social and emotional benefits from gaming, beyond just having fun. About 73% of Gen Z adults (and 81% of teens), for example, say personalizing their game avatar helps them express themselves.
That study also finds that Gen Zers view online gaming as a social activity – with 58% of Gen Z adults (and 70% of teens) saying that playing video games helps them stay connected to other people.
Gamify your brand’s online experiences.
Considering how central video games are to the lives and even the personal identities of Gen Zers, it makes sense to incorporate gamification into your brand’s online experiences if you want to capture these young people’s attention and interest.
LEGO, for example, used ByondXR’s Immersive Brand Engagement Platform to create a virtual home that visitors could explore in lifelike 3D, moving from room to room to view various LEGO toys throughout the house. But LEGO made its immersive virtual experience even more memorable and fun by adding a game: Asking visitors to find a Z-Blob LEGO toy hidden somewhere in the home, and rewarding those who found it.
2. They value experiences over things.
More than 70% of Gen Zers told researchers at Goldman Sachs that they’d rather spend money on experiences, particularly entertainment experiences, than on acquiring things.
At first, this might sound like a major challenge for brands selling fashion, beauty, consumer goods, toys, luxury items, or other physical products. But the truth is, Gen Zers are still buying these items every day; they’re just showing far more loyalty to brands that can engage them emotionally.
Offer consumers immersive virtual experiences.
The best way to capture the imagination and emotional engagement of your Gen Z consumers is to let them immerse themselves in highly personalized, 3D worlds to interact with and sample your products or services.
This could include virtual try-ons (VTOs) for your consumer goods or luxury products, for example. It could also mean enabling consumers to explore a likelike 3D shopping environment to view your products in realistic settings and from all angles, like the virtual showroom that apparel maker MAS Holdings created with the ByondXR platform.
3. They demand shopping flexibility (online and offline).
Gen Z is the first generation that grew up with smartphones and social media, so it’s understandable that they prefer shopping online more than any other demographic.
Interestingly, though, they also express more interest than both Millennials and Gen X
in shopping at physical stores. Their reasons vary, but many Gen Zers say they prefer in-person shopping to view, feel, and try on items.
Create a consistent omnichannel experience for your brand’s consumers.
Whatever your brand’s mix of physical and digital presence, you’ll want to make sure you’re offering a seamless shopping experience for your Gen Z consumers – who are increasingly demanding flexibility and consistency across shopping venues.
For example, this could mean offering a virtual try-on in your immersive online experiences that closely mirrors the try-on environment in your physical stores.
4. They view shopping as a social activity.
A 2023 report from the International Council of Shopping Centers reveals that 60% of Gen Zers go to physical stores to socialize and meet friends.
The report also finds that the people most likely to influence a Gen Zer’s purchase decisions are friends and family members.
Combining these two data points uncovers a valuable insight for brands hoping to create emotional connections with Gen Z consumers.
Infuse your immersive virtual experiences with opportunities for social buying.
Because Gen Zers have spent so much of their lives on screens and consuming digital content – remember, they’re our first digital-native generation – research shows they’re the loneliest segment of the population. That helps explain the data we noted earlier, about Gen Z’s willingness to travel to physical stores more than any other generation.
But your brand can help them recreate these social activities online, in your immersive virtual spaces.
Using ByondXR’s social buying capabilities, for example, you can enable visitors to invite friends to join their virtual experience and recommend products – and, remember, friends and family are the biggest influences on Gen Z’s buying decisions.
5. They choose brands that align with their values.
This might be the most important Gen Z character trait for your brand to understand – because even after all of your efforts to create exciting and personalized brand experiences for them, you could still lose Gen Z consumers because they don’t believe your company is perpetuating the virtues they hold dear.
For example, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers report we mentioned above, 47% of Gen Zers want brands they do business with to support environmental causes, and 53% expect them to support issues relating to mental health.
And according to CEO Magazine, 90% of Gen Zers will boycott a brand if it engages in what they view as irresponsible practices.
Share your company’s values in your immersive virtual experiences.
One of the best aspects of creating a unique, immersive virtual environment to engage consumers online is that you can infuse that custom digital space with literally any content you choose.
To cite just a few examples, you could include in your immersive virtual store digital posters depicting your company’s awards for environmental stewardship – or even a digital sign explaining how much less carbon impact your consumer’s visit to this immersive digital space is having versus a visit to a physical store.
Your company is doing important work to help improve the world. Your Gen Z consumers – more than any other demographic – will want to know about this, and it will directly affect their purchase decisions and loyalty to your brand.
Use your immersive virtual experiences to share these emotionally resonant stories about the valuable work your brand is doing. Gen Z – tomorrow’s largest group of consumers in the world – will reward you for it.
Take Action to Earn the Engagement of Your Gen Z Customer
As we noted above, Gen Z is quickly becoming the world’s largest consumer demographic. That means your brand’s strategies need to take into account this massive new group of customers.
But if you haven’t updated your brand’s customer experiences and processes recently, chances are you’re not set up properly to address the habits and preferences of this unique consumer group – their prioritization of experiences over physical things, for example, or the high value they place shopping with friends.
So, if you want to give your brand a competitive edge in the coming years, you’ll want to make strategic moves now to ensure your online shopping experiences appeal to the fast-growing Gen Z. And the best place to start is by creating immersive virtual experiences on the ByondXR platform.