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Move Over Millennials, Generation Z Is on the Scene


When I was a kid I remember looking up to those cool, 20-something Generation Xers. Man. Marketers were fixated on that generation throughout the 1990s with huge campaigns that targeted the coming-of-age group. Remember the “GeneratioNext” Pepsi ad featuring the Spice Girls in the late 1990s? Pepsi captured the energetic, irreverent, young-adult culture with its 1990s installment of the Pepsi Generation advertising campaign, first launched in 1963.

Then came my generation, the millennials—more than 86 million strong. According to Boston Consulting Group, these 18- to 33-year-olds account for nearly $1.3 trillion dollars in annual consumer spending. Today there are innumerable brand efforts to capture the millennial dollar, such as this summer’s popular “Share a Coke” campaign, which features the top 250 millennial and teen names in the United States and infused a renewed interest among young adults for the 128-year-old brand.

Although millennials are demanding the attention of marketers across multiple industries (and editors like me who continue to write about this demographic), marketers’ sights are already beginning to fixate on a new group of potential young buyers: Generation Z, born roughly after 1995 and now estimated to be America’s largest generation.

Members of Generation Z are still being born, have yet to reach age 21, are too young to have a defining moment for their age bracket, and are still waiting to develop a widely accepted name. But forward-thinking marketers recognize this group’s major influence on household purchases; progressive brands are already studying these individuals and their preferences.

Understanding Gen Z can help brand marketers produce profits today—and tomorrow. Below you’ll find a few stats about this budding generation, ranging from infants to 19-year-olds. Hopefully, these facts will encourage marketers to craft campaigns not just for the present but also the future.

1. Teens are spending as much on food as they are on clothing, about 21% of their money. (Piper Jaffray)

2. Starbucks remains the perennial favorite among all teens for food-and-drink spending. (Piper Jaffray)

3. Generation Z is the most racially diverse of any generation in the U.S.; 55% are Caucasian, 24% are Hispanic, 14% are African-American, 4% are Asian, and 4% are multiracial. (Frank Magid Associates)

4. Eighty-four percent of 13- to 17-year-olds have a Facebook account. Compare that to 46% of 8- to 12-year-olds. (JWT)

5. Seventy-six percent of Generation Z wishes that their hobbies would turn into full-time jobs, and 72% of high school students want to start their own businesses someday. (Marketo)

6. Brands that are losing popularity among teens include Aeropostale, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Hollister. (Piper Jaffray)

7. Brands gaining popularity among teen girls include Forever 21, American Eagle, and Lululemon. (Piper Jaffray)

8. About 46% of Gen Z are not yet shopping online. But of those who are, many will buy goods online and offline in equal numbers.

9. Eighty-four percent of moms feel that kids influence purchase decisions; 74% of moms say that kids influence apparel purchase decisions; and 73% of moms report that kids influence the weekly dinner menu. (Sparks & Honey)

10. The two most commonly used devices among Generation Z are mobile phones (75%) and televisions (78%). (JWT)

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