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How companies can better tap Generation Z

By Zhang Yu | China Daily | Updated: 2021-02-22 09:41

A girl takes photos with a tourist at the anime culture carnival organized by Chinese video platform Bilibili, in Shanghai on Dec 12, 2020. [Photo/Sipa]

Many online elements and scenarios can be extended to the offline space, like animation exhibitions, which is also a very important factor to be considered for consumption analysis. The Gen Zers also play a major role in boosting the popularity of many novel consumer products, like Hi Tea and blind boxes.

Based on the scenarios and behaviors discussed so far, it is possible to identify several features that distinguish the Gen Z and gain insights into factors that drive them as consumers.

First, the Gen Zers are keen on the convenience of consumption. With the upgrading of consumption, the Gen Zers are relying more and more on products delivered straight to them, rather than reaching out for products or services themselves.

This is particularly true in dining and shopping. With demand for personalized consumption increasing rapidly all the time, many innovative and convenient products like self-heating hotpots have appeared on the shelves.

Second, a typical Gen Z person happens to be the only child of his/her family. During their time alone, which tends to be long because their parents often have little time for them, the Gen Zers usually spend time on online social networks, gaming, esports and online videos.

They need company or e-companions, who could be from friends on online social networks or small pets at home. The Gen Zers may have dolls at home, or even virtual idols on the internet, such as Luo Tianyi, a virtual idol popular among the Gen Zers on Bilibili. Therefore, providers of good or pleasant company online will likely be preferred by the Gen Z. The latter would be willing to pay for such services.

The Gen Zers like to express views and engage in interactions. They often spend a lot of time to research the comments and make evaluations before shopping decisions.

Also, they are willing to express their opinions on the purchase. Therefore, there will be many product assessments and comments in the communities they gather at. These reviews and evaluations are significant channels for sellers and service providers to obtain feedback and other information.

Third, the Gen Z-consumers are concerned about product quality more. They are sensitive to certain facts like whether or not the products they consume are beneficial to their own health, whether or not they were made in environmentally friendly ways, and whether or not the companies concerned are fulfilling their corporate social responsibilities.

For instance, Genki Forest, a Chinese brand known for its flavored sparkling water and oolong tea, has made waves for its fashion sense and eye-catching product designs. But where it really shines is with its sugar-free, fat-free, calorie-free product features.

Genki has gained much popularity among the Gen Z-consumers in recent years. The company, since its founding in 2016, grew its sales rapidly with a presence in 53,286 convenience stores across China, backed by 131,375 offline retailers. This helped it to expand to more than 11 overseas markets.

It is also worth noting that the Gen Z constitute a group that pursues individuality. At Bilibili, the bullet curtain represents the interactive way for the Gen Zers. For example, "AWSL (ah, I'm dead) "expresses amazement or "helplessness" peculiar to young people.

To conclude, for companies desiring growth, it is paramount to understand the Gen Z. To that end, it might be a good idea for every company to have an account on websites and apps popular among the group, and understand the nature of interactions in the community.

Better still, companies should become part of the community, observe the goings on, carry out systematic studies and research on consumption styles, and gain insights in order to reach and serve the Gen Zers better.

The writer is an associate professor of strategy with the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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