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Meet Gen Z

Gen Z — the generation of consumers born in the mid-1990s — is coming of age, and marketers need to pay close attention. Unlike earlier generations, Millennials included, Gen Zers can be difficult to engage using traditional advertising channels, including standard online display ads. To appeal to these key consumers fully, brands first need to understand them better.

Throughout the year, we’ll be offering new looks at what Gen Z wants in different life areas based on exclusive research.


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  • “Generation Z” is often described as being born in the mid-1990s. source

  • They make up 26 percent of the U.S. population as of 2017. source

  • They command up to $143B in U.S. spending power. source

  • Gen Z is looking for value as far as what they spend. source

  • Gen Zers are overwhelmingly mobile-first. source

  • 49 percent of Gen Zers feel better socializing online than off. source

  • Their purchases are influenced more by friends than by public figures. source

  • They watch far less traditional TV than other generations. source

  • They often communicate in images.

  • By 2020, they’ll be the most diverse generation in U.S. history. source

Do you consider your current Gen Z marketing to be effective?

Do you consider your current Gen Z marketing to be effective?

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What’s Next? Zs Face the Future

The future can be scary—especially in today’s global climate. When college-age Gen Z looks beyond graduation, they aren’t just worried about finding jobs and establishing themselves (although those rank high on their list of concerns). More than any previous generation, Zs face a slew of global challenges, from climate change, to political turmoil to growing immigration issues. Overall, 57 percent feel uncertain about the future.

So how can brands connect with Zs who’ve got other things on their minds? By understanding their overall uncertainty and working to help this generation who, despite everything, wants to make a difference:

  • 1

    Remember, no two Zs are exactly alike.

    “I can disagree with you and still respect you, treat you as my equal and be your friend.” – Australian student

  • 2

    Help this generation help others.

    “Sadly, there are still many intolerant and close-minded people, [but] younger generations are working hard toward equality and inclusion.” – U.K. student

  • 3

    Be authentic.

    “We are all human. We all make mistakes and believe different things.” – U.S. student

To find out how your brand can connect in meaningful ways with this young and powerful generation, download our free white paper now.

Download the future white paper

Generation Z: Living the Healthy Life

The South Beach Diet. The ThighMaster. Thirty pounds in 30 days. No wonder people used to view exercise and diets as passing fads or quick-fix solutions. But the days of instant results and short-term gains are ancient history for today’s college-age Gen Zers. This generation is embracing exercise, a well-balanced diet and mental health as facets of a larger, more holistic picture: personal well-being for the long term.

For food and fitness industry marketers looking to reach this generation, the sky’s the limit — but only if they do it right. Gen Z sees exercise and mindful eating as essential to living a full life, and marketers need to tailor their messages to that. Consider:

point to managing stress and mental health as their most important health and wellness concern.
believe in maintaining a well-balanced diet.
stress the importance of exercise.

As one New Zealand student said, “It is important to eat healthy and maintain a decent level of exercise a week in order to stay healthy both physically and mentally.” This was echoed by a U.K. student who strives to “do enough to be healthy [while] enjoying life.”

To find out how to reach these health-conscious Gen Zers, download our free white paper now.

Download the health white paper

Generation Digital? Not So Fast.

Gen Z is the most digital generation yet. Born in the mid-1990s, they’ve grown up right along with the internet. It goes without saying they live on their mobile phones, respond only to digital advertising, have no interest in data privacy and couldn’t care less about televisions or paperback books, right?

Well, wrong, actually. Gen Z is far more complex in its media use than most thought leaders in marketing would have you believe. Indeed, a new study by global Student Affinity Network UNiDAYS turns five key “facts” about Gen Z on their heads, revealing them for what they are: marketing myths.

To find out the truth behind these myths, check out our free white paper now.

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Here are five key myths just waiting to be debunked:

Myth 1
Gen Zers are “diginative” so they’ll respond better to digital messaging than any other form of media.

Myth 2
Gen Z won’t pay for apps.

Myth 3
Gen Z is slowly forgetting about traditional media formats like TV sets and paperback books.

Myth 4
Gen Z doesn’t care about data privacy.

Myth 5
Gen Z is mobile-first—or even mobile-only—when it comes to shopping.

U.S. college students describe their travel style as affordable with the occasional splurge.

The Importance of Travel

When it comes to college-age Gen Zers, travel is high on their bucket list. In fact, with their friends posting geo-tagged photos on social media, travel has become a status symbol for this generation — much as athletic shoes or designer bags were for earlier generations.

And where they’re looking to go may well surprise you. According to a recent UNiDAYS survey, when Gen Zers travel, they aren’t constantly on the lookout for hot party spots with cheap lodging. Across the board, students from the U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand ranked eating out, sightseeing and visiting museums as their favorite things to do while vacationing.

“The best trip I’ve ever taken was to Japan. I loved the culture and the people and their food. I enjoy learning about different cultures and traditions.

—U.S. student, UNiDAYS Travel Survey

“The best trip I’ve ever taken was to Utah, USA. It was so good to meet up with family friends and just enjoy and soak in all that the States has to offer. The best part was hands down the food!”

—New Zealand student, UNiDAYS Travel Survey

“Last year I went on … holiday to Salou in Spain with a big group of my friends. It was the first time going on holiday without any adult supervision, and it was great. I loved the freedom to do my own thing and explore and have fun.”

—U.K. student, UNiDAYS Travel Survey

To find out more about Gen Z’s travel habits and what they mean for marketers, download our free white paper now.

Download the travel white paper

Adventures in Noshing

While traveling is important, food ranks as the top priority for Gen Z. Gen Zers actively love exploring and trying out new foods (spicy!) — and don’t mind spending money to do it. In fact, more than half of students told UNiDAYS they spend $10 to $20 when they eat out.

But restaurant marketers can’t rely on traditional ad channels. This generation is firmly rooted in community networks, social media and advice from friends when choosing where to eat and drink.

Gen Zers in the U.S. are more likely to try a restaurant that offers discounts.
UNiDAYS Gen Z Insights: "What Restaurants Need to Know" August 2017

For tips on winning over Gen Z and their dining dollars, download our free white paper “Gen Z: What Restaurants Need to Know.”

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Gen Z Up Close

Getting to know Gen Z — who they are, what they want and what they need — is more than simply running the numbers and stats on Gen Zers alone. For instance, who are the generations that came before them — and how does Gen Z compare and contrast for marketing purposes? This section will help with the basics as well as offering deeper looks at a variety of areas that are critical in getting Gen Z. For an in-depth guide to engaging with these important consumers, download our free “Gen Z Marketing Playbook.”

  1. the past
  2. Previous Generations

    While generation designations aren’t an exact science, here’s a look at how the generations are defined by birth years:

  3. The Silent Generation


    The defining moments for Americans of this generation were, by and large, the Great Depression, World War II and the Korean War. Members of the Silent Generation are similar to members of Generation Z in their overall favoring of pragmatism over idealism.

  4. Baby Boomers


    As consumers, Baby Boomers differ heavily from Gen Zers in that they have a stronger affinity for brand loyalty — and much of that loyalty stems from how well they see themselves being treated as customers

  5. Gen X


    Gen Zers are, by and large, the children of Gen Xers so they tend to share similarities with their parents — like their underlying wariness of overtly “sunny” messaging and, thanks to the Great Recession, a greater appreciation for thrift and value.

  6. Millennials


    Many marketers have spent the entirety of their careers striving to appeal to Millennials’ sense of idealism and optimism—and taking for granted their trust in the privacy policies of social media. Where Gen Zers are turning to Snapchat up to 11 times a day, Millennials depend on less anonymous networks such as Facebook and Twitter. So while Gen Z may share Millennials’ bright outlook, marketers need to remember one major difference: The younger generation is less trusting than Millennials.

  7. the future

About UniDays

UNiDAYS is the world’s leading Student Affinity Network. We connect brands to more than 10 million Gen Z college students around the world, giving them the power to make every experience more valuable and rewarding. Our award-winning marketing platform provides student verification technology and integrated marketing solutions to some of the world’s most recognizable brands, including Levi’s, Adidas and Samsung. Founded in 2011 by CEO Josh Rathour and headquartered in Nottingham, U.K., UNiDAYS also has offices in London, New York and Sydney.

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