Report: Digital-only marketing won’t work for Gen Z

Omnichannel is the way to reach this new purchasing powerhouse

While Generation Z are often seen as the ‘digital babies’, having grown up with the internet, marketers employing a digital-only approach to reach them won’t find much joy, according to a report.

The report, Gen Z: Decoding the Digital Generation, undertaken by AdAge with UNiDAYS, has found that while nearly all (98%) of the more than 20,000 people surveyed in Australia, New Zealand, the US and the UK, have a smart phone, only 22 per cent use it to make purchases.

Therefore, marketing only undertaken on digital channels will fall short for a generation who likes to shop in traditional retail bricks and mortar stores and have more face-to-face experiences.

Generation Z (born after 1997) make up 26 per cent of the US population and control up to US$143 billion in spending power, the report says. They don’t see digital as a novelty, having grown up with it, so they ignore digital noise. Sixty-four per cent don’t listen to podcasts, 56 per cent don’t click on website ads, 74 per cent don’t watch video streaming shows, however 84 per cent pay attention to OOH advertising.

They prefer reading print books, and shopping in bricks and mortar stores, and 64 per cent use their mobile device for browsing only, 59 per cent use it to do price comparisons, and 58 per cent look up product reviews prior to purchasing.

"The most important takeaway for marketers is that while Gen Z appears to be digital-first, they still have more than a few analogue habits," said Alex Gallagher, CMO of UNiDAYS.

"For example, while Gen Z loves browsing online, they still enjoy shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. It's critical for brands to develop a cohesive strategy, across both online and offline, that caters to their unique preferences.”

Key findings include:

  • They read hard-copy books. The assumption that Gen Z is mobile-only, digital-only, virtual reality-only, is only partially valid. A full 77 per cent of respondents prefer reading printed books.
  • They plug in and don't live stream. While 61 per cent of respondents have fully switched to streaming services, 28 per cent still subscribe to cable, and 32 per cent watch streaming services on an old-fashioned TV.
  • They use laptops. A full 93 per cent of respondents own a laptop, and only 44 per cent own a tablet. In the U.S., 41 per cent of students prefer to watch streaming services on a laptop, and 60 per cent prefer using a desktop when making purchases online. And if they have a question? 40 per cent preferred to reach out to brands on email.
  • They don't overshare. While conventional wisdom assumes this generation chronicles every detail of their lives on Snapchat and Instagram, that's not entirely true. A majority (59 per cent) don't trust Facebook with their personal data, and 78 per cent let some apps, but not all, know their geo-location.

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