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Five marketing myths about Gen Z, debunked

by John Wheeler
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    Unwrapping Gen Z holiday shopping statistics: 2020 edition

    We don’t need to tell you that 2020 has been different than any other year (in our lifetimes, at least). As the year goes on, and milestone after milestone...

    Every generation of consumers comes with its own set of misconceptions about what they like — and what they don’t. Here are five commonly held beliefs about Gen Z that marketers ought to reconsider.


    Gen Zs will soon be dominating the globe as consumers — and it’s up to brands to adapt themselves swiftly. Whole industries are re-gauging their strategies on how to attract and win over this emerging superpower of global shoppers.

    Part of that process involves doing away with misconceptions about who Gen Zers are and what they want. Here are five key marketing myths that marketers need to rethink if they hope to engage Gen Z audiences successfully.

    Myth #1: Gen Zers don’t have money for expensive purchases.

    Reality: Given the fact most Gen Zers aren’t at an age where they’re working full time, you’d think they’d opt for the cheapest possible T-shirts, restaurants, hotel reservations, cell phones or financial plans — regardless of quality. But that would be missing an important distinction: Gen Zs aren’t into shopping for the lowest price option so much as they’re into getting better value for the money they spend.

    Better value takes other considerations into account — important things like durability, uniqueness, transparency and social consciousness. To name just one example from the list above, an IBM study finds 66 percent of Gen Zers place a premium on quality of product over affordability. Moreover, Inmarket Insights finds Gen Z more willing to spend its money on mid-range and luxury brands than its Millennial peers — provided there’s a demonstrable difference in product quality.

    We realize there’s a thin line between “low cost” and “better value,” but it’s one that needs to be drawn in order to understand Gen Z’s mindset about shopping.

    Take our quiz: Get to know your Zs

    Myth #2: Most Gen Z students rely on family for their money.

    Reality: Absolutely the contrary. A UNiDAYS global survey of the financial habits of Gen Z students reveals that 77 percent of respondents report “having a side-hustle” as a way of putting extra money in their bank accounts.

    And when you think about it, it all makes sense. We’re talking about a generation where 12 percent of its members are already setting aside money for their retirement — and another 35 percent profess they’ll be doing much the same by the time they’re in their 20s.

    Myth #3: Gen Z isn't into spending money on restaurants.

    Reality: Gen Zers aren’t frugal when it comes to eating out. In fact, they’re willing to plunk down major money on the table. In a 2018 global study of Gen Z students by UNiDAYS, 78 percent of respondents reported that besides paying for tuition and housing, “food” is where they spend most of their money. The same survey found a surprising number of students (nearly half) willing to pay between $10 - $20 for a meal out on the town, with 15 percent willing to pay even more.

    Myth #4: Gen Z travelers know how to partay.

    Reality: Gen Zers are much more into experiential travel than spring break-style partying. In fact, “partying” ranks a distant sixth among Gen Z travelers’ favorite activities while on vacation, as revealed in a Gen Z travel study conducted by UNiDAYS earlier this year. Eating out, sightseeing, outdoor adventures, strolling around and participating in guided tours all rank above partying when it comes to Gen Z’s travel priorities.

    Le't be real -- “partying” isn’t likely to go extinct anytime soon. But it’s becoming a far cry from the Spring Break we once knew. Today’s travel industry needs to take into account Gen Z’s interest in having cultural experiences and cater to those interests more fully.

    Myth #5: Gen Zers aren’t into traditional, non-digital forms of media.

    Reality: A recent UNiDAYS global tech report finds Gen Z students still overwhelmingly prefer certain types of traditional media over their digital equivalents. According to UNiDAYS findings, a slight majority (51 percent) of Gen Z students report receiving their news from traditional television. Perhaps even more surprisingly, the study found an overwhelming majority (77 percent) stressed their preference of printed books over ebooks. In an era where many publishing companies have conceded the future of literature to the Kindles, Nooks and Audibles of the world, that’s remarkable news indeed.

    Think you know your Zs?

    Want to test your knowledge of common misperceptions about Gen Z? Take our quiz and find out just how well you stack up.

    Take the quiz


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