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Generation Z
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A new consumer audience is taking centre stage as Generation Z begin to come of age.


Generation Z were born between 1995 and 2009. They are a cohort that is more populous and influential on consumer spending than any generation before them.


But any retailer, manufacturer or service provider simply planning to reuse whatever marketing strategies they have developed for Millennials in order to sell to this new generation needs to think again.

Introducing Gen Z: An influential demographic

Generation Z are a group with their own values, preferences and behaviours – with attitudes towards technology, finance and spending that are distinctly different from previous generations.

Here we briefly explore 4 key ways Generation Z are distinct from their Millennial forerunners – and the implications for consumption and marketing strategies in the post-digital realm.

Generation map: Categorising the generational cohorts
Generation map: Categorising the generational cohorts

Why are Generation Z so significant?

The distinct behaviours of Gen Z need to be understood by companies and marketers for two important factors:

Consumer giants

By 2020, Generation Z will be the largest group of consumers globally. They will account for 40% of consumers in the US, Europe and BRIC countries and 10% in the rest of the world*. Companies that don’t engage with Gen Z successfully could rapidly lose market share.

* Source: Booz Co



consumer giants

Mega influencers

Some of them may only be 9 years old, but Gen Z already have huge spending power. In the US, Gen Z currently have $200 billion in direct buying power but $1 trillion in indirect spending power by influencing household spending*. Gen Z's advanced digital knowledge and ability to assess factors such as price and availability from a young age make them increasingly influential in family spending decisions.

* Source: IBM

mega influencers

Who pulls the purse-strings?

Top 5 areas where Gen Z influence family spending

Five top categories where Generation Z influences family spending

Source: IBM

Gen Z: How influence becomes power

Not just mini-Millennials: 4 ways Gen Z are different

To market to and connect with Gen Z effectively, companies need to understand the attributes that make them different. We have identified four important ways that Gen Z differ from their predecessors.

1. Connected from birth

If Millennials were digital pioneers, then Generation Z are the first true digital natives – not knowing a time without technology at their fingertips. This has led to an expectation of seamless, on-demand connectivity that companies must be able to accommodate.

Millennials: Tech Savvy
Multi-task over: 2 screens
Communicate with: SMS
Preferred app: Facebook

Gen Z: Tech innate
Multi-task over: 5 screens
Communicate with: Emojis
Preferred app: Snapchat

Source: Barclays Research


of Gen Z are actively connected within an hour of waking up.

Source: Autotrader

2. Ultra-focused

Generation Z are the most marketed-to children of all time. As such, their shorter attention span should be viewed not as an inability to concentrate but rather as a sophisticated filter evolved to help them seek out relevant content faster and more precisely than any generation before them.

Attention span

Source: Vision Critical, Altitude

3. Economically conservative...

Generation Z may be avid consumers. But the 2008 global financial crisis, the experience of older siblings struggling to find work and a sense of global instability are driving a renewed focus on personal resilience, financial conservatism and hard work – with online opportunities leading the way in unleashing Gen Z’s earning potential.

Millennials: Now focused
Gen Z: Future focused

Source: Barclays Research


Almost one in four Gen Zs aged 13-21 already earn money online.

Source: IBM

4… but social activists

Generation Z have been made aware of international affairs from a young age thanks to a 24-hour news cycle that relentlessly pushes out information. Meanwhile, their unprecedented access to travel, culture and ideas has led them to put a high value on diversity in all its forms.

As a result, they're ready to use their collective voice and buying power to champion those brands that reflect their values – and challenge those that don’t.


of Generation Z will support brands that take a stand on issues regarding equal rights, sexual orientation, and race

Source: Millennial Marketing

Looking on phones

Get ready for Generation Z

Brands and businesses need to move fast to be ready to serve Generation Z when this group reaches consumer dominance in the early 2020s.


But companies also need to take the time to understand the idiosyncrasies of this cohort: Gen Z have an ultra-short attention span, but are hungry for authentic content; they are sceptical of financial institutions, yet want to save and be financially independent; they are immersed in social media, but also want to have a positive impact in the real world.


The time to engage Generation Z is now. But only those companies that genuinely grasp Gen Z’s particular behaviours, values and priorities are likely to meet with success.

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Related content

Gen Z: How influence becomes power 

As Generation Z come of age, our analysts explore why this powerful demographic is so important and how they’re already starting to reshape key business sectors.

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About the analysts

Hiral Patel is a VP in the newly-formed Sustainable & Thematic Investing team within Equity Research at Barclays focusing on Thematic Research. Hiral joined the team in June 2018 following five years covering the European Technology, Payments and FinTech sector. Prior to that, Hiral qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG where she worked in Audit covering Financial Services. She graduated from the University of Warwick in 2009 with a degree in Economics, Politics and International Studies.


Emily Morrison is an AVP in the newly-formed Sustainable & Thematic Investing team within Equity Research at Barclays focusing on Thematic Research. Emily joined the team in June 2018 following two years covering the European Food Retail space and one year covering the European Telecoms sector. Emily graduated with a degree in Economics from Cambridge University.

Read the full report

Generation Z: Step aside Millennials is now available to Investment Bank clients on Barclays Live or on the Barclays Live App.

Download a pdf version of this synopsis

Barclays Research Highlights - Generation Z: Step aside Millenials (PDF, 677KB)Barclays Research Highlights - Generation Z: Step aside Millenials (PDF, 677KB)
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