IRI, Chicago, announced findings from two recent studies into the shopping attitudes and behaviors — and the emotional drivers — of Generation Z (aged 21 and under). In partnership with The Family Room LLC, Norwalk, Conn., these studies surveyed a cross-generational sample of Gen Z consumers. Findings show that Gen Z’s preferences tend to have significant influence on the purchase behaviors of their household — meaning that manufacturers and retailers are smart to adjust their marketing strategies to win the hearts and minds of Gen Z shoppers.

“Gen Z is deeply motivated by authenticity and a brand’s ‘emotional DNA,’ which we define as how completely a product or brand aligns with the values shoppers attribute to it,” says Robert Tomei, president of consumer and shopper marketing and core content services for IRI. “Because Gen Z shoppers rely more on brand recognition to make purchase decisions than their Millennial counterparts, it is critical that manufacturers and retailers create transparent and authentic relationships with the Gen Z population early on to build loyalty as their purchasing power grows.”

The research from IRI’s study, which builds on the initial Gen Z analysis released in September 2017, links the unique attitudes and behaviors of Gen Z to household purchase behavior data, providing CPG manufacturers and retailers with actionable insights that identify growth opportunities.

Some highlights from the study include:

  • Gen Zers are active participants in their family’s grocery shopping. IRI’s study found that 47% of older Gen Zers (aged 18-21) participate in their household’s grocery shopping. Further, parents say their Gen Z kids influence what they buy at the grocery store. As Gen Z’s influence continues to grow and their brand loyalties and motivations become more refined, understanding Gen Z’s unique influences and how they play out at the shelf will be critical for manufacturers and retailers.
  • Personalization isn’t creepy — it’s cool. 38% of Gen Z kids think it’s cool to get ads or promotions in their social media feeds for products based on their interests/shopping habits. That’s much higher than their Millennial counterparts (21% for young Millennials aged 22-30 and 30% for older Millennials aged 31-40. And, for younger Gen Z kids, personalization is seen as a great way to discover new products/services (42% of young Gen Zers agreed with this statement).
  • Variety is a must. IRI’s study found that product variety (i.e. flavors) substantially influences the buying behaviors of Gen Z’s households. The number of unique universal product codes (UPCs) purchased in households with Gen Z kids are significantly higher than those without.
  • A healthy lifestyle is broadly defined. 66% of the Gen Z population said that “feeling good about who I am” is a part of being healthy, and 62% cited “staying positive” as a major contributor to health. These responses underscore the values-based, holistic approach Gen Z brings to all of their interactions, including those with brands.
  • They want to be a part of the feedback loop. Findings show that Gen Z has little interest in or patience for brands that try to “sell them” without sincerely working to get to know them. They want to be an active part of the brand relationship and want a feedback loop and an interactive dialog — underscoring social media’s importance in both reaching and engaging with them.

“Gen Z is fueled by possibility,” says Lynne Gillis, principal of survey and segmentation for IRI. “They see windows where others see walls. They are not afraid to create those things that they want but cannot find — they truly do want to be a part of the innovation process. But, they want purposeful, collaborative innovation. If new products or services are not highly aligned with their specific needs and values and don’t fulfill a meaningful purpose, they’re quick to dismiss them. To accomplish this and reach them, manufacturers and retailers must leverage the power of personalization to reach Gen Z, the first generation that has no memory of life before the internet and the first majority minority cohort (diversity is natural) in U.S. history. With our sophisticated data-based solutions that consist of millions of shoppers and attribute-specific insights, IRI is uniquely positioned to help marketers better understand and activate against the diverse and powerful Gen Z market.”