Blended in every way, this diverse, digitally rooted generation that spans from kindergarten to college grad is changing the foundation of retail and marketing at lightning speed.
They are the first generation to grow up seeing interracial relationships, gay marriage and equality for all on mainstream media. Fifty percent identify as mixed race or as part of an ethnic group. And, because they’ve had smartphones since elementary school, watching world events in the palm of their hands or having anything delivered by simply asking Alexa is the norm.
This is Gen Blend, commonly known as Gen Z. Wielding $44 billion in purchasing power, they will account for 40 percent of all consumers by 2020. But while this blended generation is the product of diverse ideals — new family and ethnic dynamics, unlimited access to information and no boundaries between their real lives and online lives — they aren’t about blending in. Brands that toss the rule book aside will win their hearts, minds and e-wallets. Those that don’t will be swiped away. Here is what should be considered about Gen Blend:
Real people, for real
Gen Blend judges with their eyes first. They don’t want polish or perfection. Instead, they want people who look like and believe in the same things that they do. The story behind the story is key, which is why celebrities are dwarfed by the Instagram influencers and YouTubers who are their make-up artists, designers and personal chefs. Influencers are seen as trustworthy and relevant because have they expertise in the types of products they promote and engage with. In fact, 63 percent of this generation prefers to see real people, not celebrities in ads.
Smartphones are life
Always in hand, smartphones are omnipresent in their lives. Blending online and real-life experiences like no other generation, these demanding consumers want a quick, seamless, customized experience. They rely on Yelp or Amazon ratings and reviews and YouTube to expose what products do or don’t do. Their pervasive attitude — if it isn’t on social media, it doesn’t exist — poses questions around Snap-worthiness. And, despite still visiting the mall, their online buying habits have wreaked havoc on impulse-purchase products. Basically, those who can’t immediately deliver or who complicate their lives in any way become irrelevant.
Mobile isn’t just for phones
Anytime, anywhere is their moniker. Ever-present technology has made Gen Blend the most mobile generation. But beyond cord cutting, it has impacted entertainment, food, malls and even parent drivers. Who knows what’s next? Brands who lean into this new perspective will outpace those who don’t. Recently, Nintendo Switch transformed its home console into a portable system that can be played anywhere. Food trucks have become an on-demand culinary staple and Postmates leveled the food delivery playing field. Uber has impacted teens not wanting to drive, while pop-up apparel shops make fashion accessible to all.
The world according to Gen Blend is changing at internet speed. Brands that are inclusive, thoughtful and swift to act will be relevant, swipe right. Otherwise, swipe left.
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