They like email, billboard ads: Surprise! It's Gen Z

| by S.A. Whitehead
They like email, billboard ads: Surprise! It's Gen Z

Members of Gen Z, those born between 1996 and 2010, are a perplexing bunch, as you learned Tuesday from ResearchandMarkets' most recent report on the youngsters. They are just as likely to head to the new restaurant down the street as to order online, for example.

Another survey of 22,000 U.S. college students is echoing that somewhat split-brain approach to the digital and physical worlds. Student affinity network — Unidays — partnered with Ad Age to poll 17- to 23-year-old students about their favorite brands and how they engage with them. And we'll just put it this way, restaurant brand communications and marketing teams have their work cut out for them. 

Take, for instance, survey findings like the fact that these young adults were often more attracted to billboard ads than digital promotions, love hard copy books (77 percent) and preferred to engage with brands via email (40 percent) . Also, they rarely listen to podcasts or watch Facebook Live, and while 98 percent own smartphones and nearly as many own laptops (93 percent), few (14 percent) have smartwatches and fewer still have virtual reality gear (3 percent). 

"The research revealed they didn't like to click on ads, but did notice billboard advertising. ...It's critical for brands to develop a cohesive strategy, across both online and offline, that caters to their unique preferences."

Unidays' Alex Gallagher said restaurant brands should understand that while this 16- to 25-year-old age group clearly chooses digital mediums first, they do not completely reject more traditional sources of information. He said wise marketers would do well to remember this and design their approaches accordingly. 

"This blending of the physical and digital — which we've coined "phygital" — is necessary to drive understanding and acceptance with the Gen Z generation," he said in an interview with this website about the survey.  

As an example of how this manifests, he used the information from the survey about Gen Z shopping habits, which might not be so different from those of any other generation. He said the survey found that while these young adults love to look for products online, they also love to shop in physical stores and sometimes hard copy advertising. 

"They like 'bricks and clicks,'" he said referring to physical stores and online shopping channels. "The research revealed they didn't like to click on ads, but did notice billboard advertising. ...It's critical for brands to develop a cohesive strategy, across both online and offline, that caters to their unique preferences."

Other findings from the survey, are equally eye-opening. For instance, a majority (56 percent) don't click on ads when browsing websites. Likewise, a quarter of those surveyed said they still subscribe to cable, and in the U.S., 38 percent watch streaming services on that good ol' television set. 

Here are a few other findings from the survey: 

•    For brand inquiries, these "millennials of tomorrow" still send emails  (38.2 percent).
•    63 percent of U.S. respondents "don't trust Facebook with their personal data."
•    79 percent allow some, but not all apps, to know geo-locations.

"It's critical for brands to develop a cohesive strategy, across both online and offline, that caters to their (Gen Z's) unique preferences," Gallagher said. 

Lest any brand leader doubt that pursuit is worth its while, Gallagher also reminded us that by 2020, Gen Z will be 40 percent of the U.S. population with $144 billion in spending power. He said the leaders who get out in front with their communications and engagement strategies now are clearly better positioned for tomorrow.

Want to learn more about Gen Z? Join us as the Fast Casual Executive Summit, Oct. 7-9 in Seattle to hear a talk by Gen Z expert, authorandresearcher Jeff Fromm. Register here.

Photo montage sourced from iStock
 


Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Communications, CONNECT: The Mobile CX Summit, Customer Service / Experience, Marketing / Branding / Promotion, Online / Mobile / Social, Systems / Technology, Trends / Statistics



S.A. Whitehead

Award-winning veteran print and broadcast journalist, Shelly Whitehead, has spent most of the last 30 years reporting for TV and newspapers, including the former Kentucky and Cincinnati Post and a number of network news affiliates nationally. She brings her cumulative experience as a multimedia storyteller and video producer to the web-based pages of Pizzamarketplace.com and QSRweb.com after a lifelong “love affair” with reporting the stories behind the businesses that make our world go ‘round. Ms. Whitehead is driven to find and share news of the many professional passions people take to work with them every day in the pizza and quick-service restaurant industry. She is particularly interested in the growing role of sustainable agriculture and nutrition in food service worldwide and is always ready to move on great story ideas and news tips.


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