Gen Z Insights

Your source for the latest Gen Z marketing trends and perspectives, presented by UNiDAYS.

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Gen Z is lazy and broke: fact or fiction?

by Christina Germano
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    Gen Z is often written off as broke and lazy. Is it true? Marketers, read on as we debunk stereotypes of this oft-misunderstood generation.

    There is a time-honored tradition that unites people of all ages: complaining about people younger or older than them. Every generation, from Boomers to Millennials, gets its share of digs and disses from others.

    Gen Z is no exception, and there are two points of shade older folks tend to throw at them: They’re lazy and they’re broke.

    Needless to say, this is far too broad a brush to paint an entire generation with. And, in many cases, it’s simply not true. Marketers need to do their homework to really get to know Gen Z. And with a little open-minded sleuthing, you’ll find many ways in which they defy your expectations—and you can better market to them.

    They’re entrepreneurs

    In general, Gen Zers aren’t content with relying on college funds from outside sources. Instead, nearly one in four plan to pay for their education themselves. Nearly 41 percent are aspiring entrepreneurs, and approximately half expect to create something that will change the world.

    And this ambition isn’t exclusive to university-aged Gen Zs. Sixty-one percent of teenage girls and 54 percent of boys have considered opening their own business. Of those, four percent of girls and six percent of boys have already done it.

    Let’s meet a few of them:

    • Jessie Kay. This ambitious 19-year-old started a sneaker-flipping business at age nine, which involved buying discounted sneakers at retail stores and selling them for their going rate on eBay. He is now the Founder and CEO of Vyber Media, a firm that provides digital marketing services to a roster of business executives, professional athletes, and social media influencers. He hosts the entrepreneur podcast Trendsetters with Jesse Kay (which he started at age 16), whose guests have included wine nut Gary Vaynerchuk and Jack Dorsey, Founder and CEO of Twitter and Square.
    • Noa Mintz. Another 19-year-old charting her own path with her company, Nannies by Noa. One of the top nanny placement firms in New York City, it boasts a robust stable of passionate nannies and sitters. By age 12, she had recruited her own caregivers and was doing the same for other NYC families, and she launched her namesake company that same year. 
    • As a young boy living with ADHD, Allan Maman struggled to find toys that could help alleviate his symptoms—until he discovered the fidget spinner, a toy that keeps your hands occupied while allowing you to perform other tasks. He found that the spinners on the market were expensive and unreliable, so he brought in fellow ADHD teen Cooper Weiss. Still in high school, the two of them started Fidget360, bringing high-quality, affordable spinners to the general public.

    They’re tech experts

    Gen Z is made up of true “digital natives” who have grown up in a world with internet, social media, and smartphones. Their tech skills are deeply ingrained and go way beyond what their parents know.

    They are well aware of the varied opportunities to make money online, and they take full advantage of them. Platforms like TaskRabbit, Fiverr, and Thumbtack allow Zs to become freelancers and build client lists, a far cry from the days of paper routes and grocery bagging.

    Remember the days when kids were urged by their parents to put down their game controllers and play outside? Some of those very same kids have gone on to professions in esports, in which they compete in online video games for prize money while the world watches via live stream. Global revenues for esports are estimated to hit $1.1 billion before 2019 is over, and the average salary for an esports professional is around $60,000. Who’s laughing now, Mom?

    With social media, Gen Zers can market themselves like no generation before. Video powerhouses like YouTube and TikTok let Gen Zers create, star in, and promote their own content, with virtually no creative limits. These creative influencers are getting contacted everyday by brands that want a piece of their audiences. In fact, 92 percent of marketing professionals see Instagram as the best platform for influencer marketing. 

    They are collaborators, not just customers

    While entrepreneurial teens can become devoted customers, they are just as likely to become your test market, your developers, and your eyes on the street. Collaborate with these customers, and together you’ll create things that will engage and excite them. Need some inspiration?

    • Create a small network of micro-influencers on less popular channels, like Whatsapp. Less popular channels = less noise. For example, Adidas has used WhatsApp to grow its influencers into global brand ambassadors that look just like you and me. 
    • Outsource your R&D to Gen Z through innovation contests, which allow you to work side-by-side with your target audience.
    • Entice YouTube influencers, like Emma Chamberlain, to try your products and tell their audience about them.

    When Zs feel that they’re part of your process and aligned with your values—and they give your mission a thumbs up—they will be primed and ready to collaborate with your brand.

    They’ve got money

    Take note, marketers: Gen Z already wields tremendous spending power, and they’re only just coming of age. Their estimated earnings were $143 billion in 2018, not even counting the legions of the youngest among them who earn quick cash by babysitting or mowing lawns. Next to that, Millennial spending seems like peanuts.

    And they’re just getting started: Gen Z is projected to take up almost 40 percent of all consumer shopping by 2020.

    Lazy and broke? Try primed and ready

    The answer on both counts? Decidedly fiction. Gen Z is neither lazy nor broke. They have drive and the cash to bankroll it, and they’re changing the playing field as we speak. These digital natives are more entrepreneurial than ever and have a hopeful, yet realistic outlook on the future

    Gen Z has was born in an age when things that simply used to entertain us (and make us “lazy”), like video games and the internet, are now viable sources of revenue—which can even take the form of, surprisingly, spending just a little more time on the couch.

    How else will Gen Z surprise you? Find out in our free report, The Gen Z Marketing Playbook.


      Download the report: Gen Z spending habits before and during COVID-19


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      Think digital marketing is all it takes to reach Gen Z? Think again. Download the research report here.