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Sneakernomics: Here Comes Gen Z, Part 2

May 8, 2017
Matt Powell, Vice President, Senior Industry Advisor ;
Sports , Footwear

In a recent blog I highlighted some of the major differences between Millennials and Generation Z. I get a lot of questions on how to understand the profile and values of Gen Z, and for brands and retailers it’s certainly necessary to understand this important next generation.

When asked to describe themselves, the most used word by Gen Z is “unique.” Gen Z wants to buy unique products, from unique brands, that are sold at unique retailers. They have also expressed that they’re willing to pay more for such unique products. Taking it a step further, they also want products that are tailored “just for me.”

Gen Z also seeks meaning in their work, relationships, products, and brands. They value relationships above all else. This makes them both tolerant and respectful. Gen Z also appears to have more “old school” work ethics, and I expect they will be hardworking, determined, dependable, and independent.

Gen Z believes that the community, if it comes together, can solve all problems. “Life hacks” (meaning a trick, skill, or shortcut that increases efficiency and productivity or solves problems) are revered. This makes Gen Z intensely collaborative.

As a generation that is out to change the world, Gen Z also wants brands to take visible stands on social issues. Human rights are the primary cause for Gen Z, and equality is non-negotiable. We can also expect more social change as this cohort gains the right to vote. With that, brands can no longer claim to be apolitical. If Gen Z does not agree with a brand’s values, they will take their business elsewhere.

For Gen Z, education is on-demand. They will learn things when they need to know them. We must learn new ways to teach them. In the Gen Z world, everything is “smart,” and all objects have behaviors.

Gen Z has moved from self to selfies. They have given up virtually all concerns for privacy, and they share everything. This makes them ripe for contextual marketing.

Brands and retailers must adapt to this new generation. In order to successfully serve Gen Z, brands and retailers must again adjust the way they market.

Because Gen Z wants a relationship with brands, they will seek out brands that share their values. Brands must earn their influence with Gen Z, and earn it every day.


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