Generation Z: An Opportunity for Market Researchers

By Keith Phillips, Senior Methodologist

Recently my colleague Nicole Mitchell and I presented at the Quirk’s conference in Brooklyn, NY.  Our topic was The Future of Market Research – Connecting with Gen Z.  For this research, we interviewed approximately 1,993 people in the US (roughly 500 per generation were sampled). Below is a link to the full presentation on our website, but in this blog I really wanted to highlight some of the opportunities and challenges this generation brings for market researchers.

  1. The generation isn’t fully defined.  There is some consensus that the group includes  individuals who are born in 1996 or later, but the cut off year isn’t fully established (we interviewed participants who were age 13-20 for our study, but we know it will be broader).  There also is also a lot to learn about this generation.  They are about to enter the workforce and certainly have begun arriving in our surveys as young adults.  The need for more research to understand the impact they will have on the market place will be in demand.
  2.  We found in our research that Generation Z will form a highly competitive market place.  It is predicted that Generation Z will enter the workforce with more student loan debt than any other generation, which could mean less discretionary income.
  3. We also learned in our survey that there is a strong desire to save among this young generation.  When we asked survey participants what they would do with a $1,000 as an open ended question, 41% of Gen Z told us they would save some or all of the money.    Although there is this desire to save, when they decide to spend they want to do so on quality items.  Technology has given them access to a lot of choice at their fingertips.  Expectations of products and services are high.
  4. One challenge that Generation Z presents is the need for shorter surveys.  This is necessary to make your surveys mobile friendly (a device this generation loves).  Additionally, this generation has a lot of activities they can do in their spare time, which suggests that their availability for longer surveys may be limited.

Although the need for shorter surveys is a challenge, Generation Z is creating a larger digital fingerprint.  In our survey, 86% of Gen Z told us they use a smartphone on a daily basis.  There favorite choice of communication was text messaging, but they also frequently communicate via social media on their smartphone (21 such communications per day on average).  Our survey also revealed that Generation Z consumes more media content via their smartphone than any other generation.  This larger data set highlights an opportunity for market researchers to make use of data outside of their primary research, which will fill the void left by shorter surveys.

For more information about Gen Z, click here to listen to the full presentation.