Introducing Your Newest Customer: Generation Z

By Paul Dobbins - Director, Account Development Sep 24, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Technology Savvy Generation

Look out, retailers. The next generation of consumers is here.

Oh, Millennials. They’re impatient, impulsive, and according to a Pew Research Center study, a third of them whip out their cellphones in public ‘for no particular reason.’

As sales pros, we’ve been trying to figure out what motivates this newest generation of customers for a while now. However, while we’ve been focusing on Millennials, they’ve already become old news.

That’s right. There’s a newer, younger, possibly more confusing generation shopping in your stores (maybe right now), and just like an annoying younger sibling they’re capturing everyone’s attention.

Introducing Generation Z

The oldest members of Generation Z – those born roughly between 1995 and 2010 – turn 20 this year. Wondering what those One Direction fans and college freshmen could possibly mean for your business? Consider this: Gen Z represents 25.9 percent of the U.S. population, and as they mature they’re entering the consumer market with a whopping $44 billion to spend.

Like Millennials before them, Generation Z is made up of true digital natives. They’ve never known a world without mobile devices or the Internet. With worldviews shaped by events like 9/11, Columbine, the war on terror, and one of the most severe economic recessions in history, they have a strong sense of social justice and support philanthropy.

So, are you ready to tap into this new customer base? Here are some traits to hone in on when you’re selling to Gen Z.

Three Truths for Gen Z

  1. Gen Z doesn’t care for the over-the-top sales pitch.
    Pushing Gen Z to buy something they don’t want will simply cause them to shift focus. These young consumers have grown up with not just one or two screens, but with upwards of five screens (TV, phone, desktop, laptop, and tablet) at their disposal. They’re buried in information and, with an eight-second attention span, they can easily ‘change the channel’ away from a forceful salesperson if they feel pressured.
  2. Gen Z is ridiculously dependent on technology.
    In fact, one study found that 79 percent of teenagers experience anxiety when separated from their phones. This dependency isn’t just emotional. With the advent of M-learning, mobile technology is influencing how Generation Z learns as well. Sales pros should seek out ways to tie technology into a young customer’s purchase, be it an app, online resource, or via the product itself. For regional carriers and others selling mobile devices, make the most of this dependency by stressing the importance of a backup plan, like cellphone insurance, in the event of loss or damage.
  3. Gen Z is all about entrepreneurship.
    Research suggests that 61 percent of U.S. high school students – all of whom fall into Generation Z – would rather be entrepreneurs than employees. Perceived as resilience by some, this entrepreneurial spirit and profound desire to change the world is viewed as naiveté by others. Regardless, as a sales professional you should look for ways to tap into this defining generational characteristic. Selling a product that promises independence or has a philanthropic tie? Make sure to highlight these benefits to your Gen Z customers.


Is Gen Z already making an impact on your business? Tweet us at @Fortegra to share your insights on the newest generation of customers.

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