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Photo: Ramesh Pathania/ Mint
Photo: Ramesh Pathania/ Mint

The gen Z consumers: Are they sorted or just lazy?

Gen Z’s choices are distinct but marketers have so far clubbed them with the millennials

Sreyoshi Maitra, head of shopper insights and executive director, market strategy and understanding, at research firm Ipsos India insists that Generation Z (15-25 years) is very different from the earlier consumer cohort, the millennials. She finds Gen Z more grounded and balanced. She backs her theory with the latest research Ipsos has done in collaboration with Isobar, the digital agency of Dentsu Aegis Network.

Gen Z’s life choices are distinct from those of the millennials though marketers, so far, have clubbed the two groups together. Maitra and Isobar’s chief operating officer Gopa Kumar studied these groups for their clients, keen to understand Gen Z’s preferences, motivations and passions.

The research covered 13- to 24-year-olds across eight cities, involving 1,820 face-to-face interviews, 1,440 online interviews, group discussions, and online shadowing. This segment is still largely in college or just entering the workforce, but are users of brands in the personal care, food and beverage, fashion and personal gadgets categories, though they may not always be paying for these themselves.

In the report, Gen Z is curiously summed up as “old heads on young shoulders".

Maitra says that despite being digital natives, they give personal relationships a lot of importance and are extremely close to their families. Among those surveyed, almost 50% admit to having two meals a day at home with their parents. They continue to live with them, too, unless study or work takes them away from their hometown.

“As they were born with internet and mobile phones, they understand what social media and the online world offers them. They are equally aware of what it takes away," says Maitra. So, they spend as much time physically hanging out with their friends as they do with families.

They are not keen to invest in limiting relationships. They are happy to be single. Remember, cola brand Pepsi hired 54-year-old Salman Khan as its brand ambassador for his cool singlehood. Whether his other attributes impress this generation is debatable. In case their relationships don’t work, they don’t collapse and 66% accept that a relationship may not be permanent.

Interestingly, as Gen Z is a generation of the “haves", they don’t seek instant gratification like the millennials. “Millennials are far more aggressive and a ‘I want it now’ generation," says Maitra. “Gen Z paces itself and is not in a mad rush," adds Kumar.

Good health and well-being is paramount. Clearly, food start-ups have understood this and are offering “better-for-you" health snacks. The study found 50% of those surveyed to be on some kind of a diet. Intermittent fasting and Keto diets are popular.

Their shopping habits are equally telling of their maturity and relationship with money. Contrary to popular belief, they have not moved online completely. They enjoy the physical store experience. However, they may end up buying a product online if the price is better. In fact, they are careful shoppers, unwilling to pay a premium for a brand just for its name. “This current generation is like our grannies. They really believe in squeezing the last dollar. They question brands asking for a premium and are happy to pick up local goods that suit needs," Maitra says. Which is why you see a lot of cloud kitchens coming up, and even Chinese e-commerce sites do brisk business here by selling unbranded fashion goods at affordable prices.

They are trendy but not blind followers of fashion. They are a generation that has grown up on lessons in body positivity. Preserving the environment was a hot topic while they were in school. “They learnt about the ozone layer, oil spills and plastics. So, they push brands on this and prefer them to be socially responsible," says Maitra. Not surprisingly, several fashion brands are making sustainability their hallmark.

Authenticity is another brand attribute they cherish. They must align with what a brand stands for. It must be inclusive, not only of the LGBTQ community but also of different economic strata. They like brands that engage with them, which explains the explosion of social media influencers.

Gen Z seeks brands that are unique or offer a tangible benefit. “They’re okay with “me too" brands but not okay if they promise something and do not deliver," points out Maitra.

This very sorted group is viewed differently by millennial managers though, who find them lazy and less driven. “Their managers are irked by their absolute focus on work-life balance. They drag their feet and lack self-motivation," says Maitra. It will be interesting to see what kind of leaders they make.

Shuchi Bansal is Mint’s media, marketing and advertising editor. Ordinary Post will look at pressing issues related to all three. Or just fun stuff.

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