Lizzy Eisenberg

Gen Z is on track to be the largest, best educated, most financially powerful and diverse generation, according Lizzy Eisenberg, director of market development for Afterpay, who shared stats about the consumer segment aged 4 to 24.

“Many are super young and haven’t come into their spending power yet, but they are still spending $143 billion today,” she said, noting that some of that is their parents’ money, but that most of her research tracked consumers ages 16 to 24, who have their own money.

Key takeaways from the buy-now, pay-later platform’s demographic findings are that more than 50 percent of Gen Z identify as multiracial, and they are socially conscious, with 77 percent willing to pay more for environmentally friendly product.

These digital natives have short attention spans — just eight seconds compared to Millennials’ 15 seconds — and they are spending three hours a day on social media. When it comes to content, they prefer video. “Think sight, sound and motion when it comes to storytelling,” said Eisenberg, noting that TikTok is a platform that brands looking to engage Gen Z should focus on, as well as YouTube, which 85 percent of today’s teens use.

When it comes to shopping, Gen Z is already outpacing Millennials when it comes to $100 to $500 purchases. “And they are fashion and beauty enthusiasts; they buy fashion and beauty once a week,” she said, adding that social media, celebrities and influencers are big drivers of purchasing.

Because Gen Z is used to the feedback loop of social media, “They are starting to expect this from brands. They want to be heard and influence what a brand is doing,” said Eisenberg, pointing to Glossier as an example of a brand that has done a good job of interacting with and building products with its community. “There is an expectation of two-way communication,” she said, noting that 44 percent of Gen Z wants to be in on product design, and 66 percent say it’s important for brands to value their opinion.

Although mobile shopping is on the rise, and Gen Z expects in-app payments, mobile wallet and pay-later options like Afterpay, “What’s encouraging is Gen Z likes stores — 76 percent believe physical stores provide a better shopping experience,” she added, challenging retailers to engage with the group by creating unique in-store experiences, such as Showfields’ third-to-second floor slide in New York City. “No, you don’t need to build a slide, but if you solve problems and do it well, you will attract Gen Z in store.”

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