Demystifying Gen Z

Written by Stéphanie Paquette


Being between the ages of 18 and 25 years, members of Gen Z haven’t known life without the web or mobile phones and get most of their information through social media. But how do they communicate, how do they feel and what are their expectations when it comes to choosing a product?

This is the main focus of the conference, Mythbusting: Getting ahead of the Gen Z shopper, presented at the 2018 Shopper Marketing Forum by Dominic Smith and Martin Williams of Idea Couture.

“The Gen Z define themselves by the stories they tell about themselves. They are interested in the social currency of the products they consume. It needs to be instagramworthy!”, explains the Idea Couture team.

But what is the social currency of a product? It’s the notoriety that a consumer provides to a product once they talk about it on their social networks, but also what the possession of the product procures for them. Does the product allow them to solidify their identity, to reinforce their feeling of belonging or to build new relationships?

According to the Idea Couture team, Generation Z is extremely preoccupied with personal branding. What’s more, they highlight that, “when you live in a virtual world such as theirs, the need to have a physical product is even more important”. So, in order to be accorded social currency, a physical product must be more than a simple product. It must surpass the ephemeral experience, increase social capital and embody the values that shoppers can adhere to. In fact, 60% of this generation affirms that they encourage brands to take a stance on different social issues.

This is why, as marketers, we have to create unique and authentic experiences to win the attention of this generation. But how? By arming ourselves with a team of content creators that knows how to infuse the products we promote with personality and symbolic meaning.

The idea that these days, it is essential to define the social value of a product or service really inspires me. We have to find a way to convince members of this generation, through real stories, that our products carry the values they covet and will therefore allow them to gain social recognition. Will this be the new way to advertise? This leads me to believe that the challenge will be even greater for marketers. In a time when a growing pool of customers define themselves through social media and where brands must promote social values in order to be considered, who has the responsibility to create more transparent campaigns?


Dominic Smith is the co-author of What You Don’t Know About Gen Z.