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How to capture the Gen Z market

Gen Zs are voracious consumers of social media, particularly in emerging economies. [iStockphoto]

If you are a business owner or aspire to be one, do not think of targeting Generation Z using that big billboard near the college they attend or the joint where they often hang out.

You will only be satisfying your big ego with such a move.

And if your plan is to slash prices and make noise that you have a promotion, it won’t work either.

Try YouTube, Instagram or Facebook.

If you are not selling on these social media platforms or at least engaging your market through them you are gambling with the future of your enterprise.

The three platforms are where Gen Z or zoomers in the country visit more often according to a report by a digital payment service company Thunes.

Hot on millennials’ heels 

Gen Z refers to people born in the late 1990s and early 2000s who are hot on the heels of millennials. They are popularly known as digital natives having grown up in the era of technology including computers, laptops and mobile phones.

The report puts a high premium on this generation considering they are the future customers of existing and yet-to-start businesses. It further provides insights into their spending and shopping habits.

One such insight is that price is not a factor when a Gen Z or zoomer is shopping. Discounts and promotions do not work on them either. Such a move would be a waste of marketing and advertising resources.

According to the global report which analysed 13 emerging and developed markets – Kenya among them – YouTube is the leading social media application visited multiple times by zoomers in the country at 23.1 per cent followed by Instagram (19.8 per cent) and Facebook (17.7 per cent).

They are followed by Tik Tok at 15.8 per cent. The report tips that overall, Gen Z in emerging markets – like Kenya – are more active social media users compared to their counterparts in the US and UK.

The report, documents that six in every 10 zoomers bought a product that they first discovered on social media.

It describes social media as a powerful influence tool for the attitudes of this generation – including their spending habits.

“This is particularly true of Gen Z living in emerging economies: across all of these economies surveyed in this research, 66.4 per cent say they have purchased products that they first discovered on social media – a greater proportion than say the same in either US or UK,” reads the report in part.

In Kenya, this percentage is 70.2.

The future of spending 

The report titled Gen Z: The Future of Spending says that overall, social media is important in driving the spending activity of zoomers which ropes in the undisputable role influencers have today for businesses.

As such, if one user (influencer) rates a product positively, Gen Z is likely to purchase. “In particular, Gen Zs in emerging economies are strikingly likely to stress the importance of rating and review sites as influential in their spending decisions,” the report reads in part.

It adds that indeed, in most countries, Gen Zs are more likely to look to these sites for information than to consult friends or families. “In Kenya, 44 per cent of Gen Zs trust ratings and reviews, more than twice as many as those who cite friends or families; in the Philippines, 43 per cent of Gen Zs agree,” the report adds.

Thunes says in the report that social media provides an ongoing source of inspiration for this generation as they think about how to spend their money.

“The verdict of online analysts is considered more important as Gen Zs ponder those purchases than the views of their nearest and dearest,” Thunes adds in the report.

When this question was posed: “When deciding on what to buy online, which factor is most important for you?” Ratings and reviews topped at 30.2 per cent.

This was followed by recommendations from someone they follow on social media (29.2 per cent) and price (discounts and promotions) coming third and influencing at 12.4 per cent.

“Digital ads I saw about this product” and “offline ads I saw on television or billboards” were the last two on the list at 4.6 and 2.8 per cent respectively.

Social media junkies

The report says Gen Zs are voracious consumers of social media, particularly in emerging economies.

“In Kenya and Nigeria, for example, 96 and 92 per cent of Gen Zs respectively say they use social media on multiple occasions throughout the day.”

Thunes chief executive Peter De Caluwe says that his firm believes that every business needs to understand how its audience’s preferences are changing so that it can cater to those changing needs.

“And the growing economic impact of zoomers makes it imperative to work out what they want,” he says in a statement accompanying the report.

He references research from the Bank of America that suggests that worldwide, Gen Z’s income will grow by 400 per cent over the coming years to reach $33 trillion by 2030. “By then, this group will hold more than a quarter of global income, and their spending power will surpass that of millennials – the generation that preceded them – in 2031,” he adds.

That power, he says, will be concentrated in certain parts of the world as nine in ten zoomers live in emerging markets as the Bank of America’s research reveals.

A fifth of this generation lives in one single country – India.

Popular products

“These trends raise important questions for every business. What makes Gen Z tick? How will they decide where to spend their growing income? Who will have an influence on those decisions?” he poses.

The report by Thunes notes that 19 per cent of zoomers in emerging markets spend their money on retail shopping.

“The figure is highest in the Philippines, where shopping accounts for almost a quarter (24 per cent) of spending, followed closely by Kenya (24 per cent),” the report says.

Essential items like groceries are at the top of their shopping list.

Other expenditures are eating out, entertainment subscriptions like Netflix and Spotify, and going to events and other forms of entertainment.

“But it would be wrong to think of Gen Z as purely hedonistic - respondents across the emerging markets in this survey spend an average of almost 10 per cent of their money on health and wellbeing – in Pakistan, the figure is almost 16 per cent,” the report says.