Two sides of the same coin: buying habits and social behaviour. They are both dictated by deficit behavioural biases, which lead an entire Generation Z to an increasingly growing purchasing habit. Behaviours on which many contemporary brands have built their fortunes.
From wanting to live the moment to not being able to lose anything. The group pressure have materialized on social media, combined with marketing strategies that aim at “momentum” have developed, in recent years, growing powerful and creating emotional purchasing dynamics. This kind of behaviours are found especially in the so-called Generation Z (or iGen, GenZ or Post-Millennials), that is, those born between 1995 and 2010.
Maybe because of the immediate access to digital media, or having grown up within social networks, the participants of this virtual market cannot help but buy because YOLO (You Only Live Once), or rather the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is dominant. We do not pronounce ourselves on the legitimacy of the two sentiments. It is not a forum for ethical discussions, and we do not want to open this type of debate. MBK Fincom, however, wanted to study how much this type of behaviour has an impact on the market. Not only for pure research, but to adapt one’s means to the evolving generational demand. We therefore realized how, almost involuntarily over time, the means were already adequate in ProduceShop practices.
YOLO: from individualism to economic light-heartedness
The general change in consumption habits is not just about moving from brick and mortar retail outlets to online stores. The approach to purchasing dynamics has also almost completely changed. If we take into consideration the GenZ (and also a good range of Millennials), the general sentiment becomes even more widespread. The buying trends grow as we return to a situation of normality, both from a qualitative point of view and, above all, to a quantitative one. In practice, many young people tend to buy more often and with less attention to prices, bargains, moderation, precisely with the mantra “you live only once“. The long-term economic and savings objectives are exceeded by the short-term ones (albeit with due hesitation).
We are therefore looking for a pleasure linked to instinctive purchases (over 60% of purchases made), even if in line with peer reviews (over 75% consult reviews before making a purchase).
However, the trend concerns not only the goods and services market, but also the job market. Over 40% of young people between 18 and 25 changed jobs in 2021, with around 70% preferring flexible work. The search for smart working contracts has increased, and well-being is at the forefront of the demands of young workers. Furthermore, the search for long-term employment is increasingly declining, in favour of a periodic change of jobs to increase personal experience at the expense of safe employment.
FOMO: the restorative purchase for social anxiety
With an increase of more than 65% in online shopping for Generation Z, pressure from the social groups is certainly not a factor that can be ignored; on the other hand, the psychological component in a given purchase often far exceeds the real need for the product at the time.
The FOMO trigger, that is the fear of missing an opportunity (or of having missed it), triggers specific cognitive biases, usually thanks to prudent marketing strategies (mechanism of a limited offer, of the missed opportunity, of the reward), but especially due to peer pressure. When you are part of a specific social group (peers, youth groups, organizations, other types of groups), you tend to want to fit in. The inevitable inequalities (even in the most egalitarian groups) lead to the desire to position oneself as soon as possible and as good as possible following the latest releases. Fashion, music, technology are the most popular markets, but also furniture, fitness and design are making their way into this trend (especially if you think that many young people are going to live alone – and even in the new home they cannot miss the latest opportunity).
It goes without saying that obviously there are many brands that exploit this kind of “social phobia” to segment and increase sales. However, marketing mechanisms do not always fulfil the need, and we will see later how it is better to ask about it.
iGen: social and economic profile
We come to the roots of these economic revolutions. Describing an entire generation, complex as it may seem, is today an easier task than it was before. Access to the exchange of ideas guaranteed by the internet has meant that cultural, social, ethnic and national differences have gradually faded over time. The result is therefore a broader, more conscious and widespread sharing of values, which easily overcomes national and gender barriers. This is one of the first winning weapons of this generation, that is union.
But what distinguishes them from previous generations? And especially by the Millennials?
- These are citizens (and consumers) born within the fully digital age and culture. It is difficult to find teenagers and twenty-year-olds who do not have or have used at least one smartphone (more than 95% have at least one). Being constantly connected is their primary characteristic, in order not to lose out of anything around them (FOMO) and to take advantage of a new purchase in line with the trends as soon as possible (YOLO). In some age groups, especially pre-adolescents, the connection between the online and offline world becomes unstable, and following them at this stage is a fundamental step to avoid subsequent critical issues.
- Compared to the previous generation, they are more inclined to do entrepreneurship (over 40% decide to start their own business as soon as they enter the world of work), they are also more thrifty, despite the easy purchase they tend to think broadly on an economic level. They prefer intercultural work environments, they want to move, change jobs frequently, learn and share information and experiences.
- We are talking about conscious young people, who are more committed. They define themselves as “global citizens“, pay attention to ethical battles and to issues of inequality and social justice. Consequently, they look for brands that follow the same type of commitment, significantly changing the way these need to sell and communicate to their target market.
- Raised in a highly critical period (from the 2001 bombing, to the economic crises of 2007 and 2011, to the pandemic), they are a more realistic generation, much less optimistic than their predecessors of Generation Y, who grew up in the comforts of their Boomer parents. They know they will have to work harder, better and in a much more changing environment.
Adapting your offers to YOLO and FOMO request: Generation Z products
Taking advantage of a Marketing department that has made Data Analysis a cornerstone of its work (as well as incorporating several iGens into its team), MBK Fincom and ProduceShop constantly work to adapt their offers to the requests of the Zoomers (another synonym for Generation Z).
It has been found, for example, that more than 40% of young people of this generation spend a lot of time in front of a screen, either for study, or for work, or to devote themselves to activities such as gaming. We have therefore opened and implemented the entire gaming category, including seats, desks and accessories such as poufs and optimized armchairs.
Being a generation projected towards the world of work with a clear advance compared to their predecessors, we are talking about young people who, with a lot of initiative, immediately seek accommodation outside the family nucleus. Therefore, ProduceShop’s low budget furnishing solutions meet this need, also providing guides and innovative solutions on know-how.
In order to be in line with the ethical commitment of which the iGen is the spokesperson, MBK has for some time undertaken a whole policy linked to the environment and sustainability; not only by choosing suppliers that respect the environment in production (recycled plastic for garden furniture, FSC certified wood), but also in the application of their company policies (which we talk about in an article on the ProduceShop blog).
In general, the focus shifts a lot on the value of the product, abstracting from the brand (except for an identification of mission and vision) what genZers are looking for is a combination of views and action, a quality product offered at a good price that reflects their ethical values. Adapting the offers in this direction was already a consolidated practice for ProduceShop, it has now become the main directive.
Adapting your language: the marketing of GenZ
There are several precautions to follow in planning a marketing strategy in line with the new generations; applying them all together is certainly not the best way to get results.
Among the many possible operations (and currently in progress by our Marketing Department) we have identified 6 fundamental characteristics of Z-targeted marketing:
- Don’t Tell What To Do, Say What They Do: Generation Z consumers don’t like being told what to do. Instead, it is much more profitable to identify with their way of doing and explaining WHAT they already do, but in the work of the brand;
- Use a dedicated storytelling: reading methods have changed, also due to the means of dissemination. A video or infographic that 10 years ago could have a high conversion rate with Millennials, could today negatively engage users of the next generation. Language and methodologies must be adapted.
- Listen to the data: this is not just a simple analysis of numbers. The ideal is to move with dedicated surveys, offline sector studies, make campaigns tailored directly to the users.
- Alert: remember not to ignore the FOMO factor; every type of offer, promotion, trend in hype represents an opportunity not to be missed. Especially if it fits wisely into the concept of social group;
- Exclusivity: this is a marketing trend that has always existed, and has always proved effective. Advertising an exclusive product leads to a very powerful dynamic of desire, exploiting one of the strongest biases in human psychology. Obviously, the concept of exclusivity cannot be too far from the true value of the product itself, especially in an era where everything is based on review;
- Use social media: iGen is the digital native generation, born AFTER the invention of social networks, which evolved with them. These too must therefore be adapted to the audience. Hardly today a genZer will follow a brand on Facebook (considered by them a social media “for old people”); Instagram is still a very active sharing platform. Not to mention all the new players in the communication and sharing market (TikTok among all).
Managing your reference market in an intergenerational context is a very difficult task. Knowing how to use the same language on such different audience targets requires a marketing commitment that implies different skills and methodologies.
Therefore, adapting not only the catalogue, but especially one’s own Tone of Voice in a malleable and adaptable perspective is one of the most urgent needs of the moment.
MBK Fincom wanted to explain some of its practices, but the list is much longer and more complex.
- Corporate PR
- Produceshop Marketing Department ( https://mbkfincom.com )
- Investment Runner
- Il Sole 24Ore – Alleyoop
- Inside Marketing
- Digital Cultures