Gen Z consumers have never known a world without the internet, are influenced by video in their purchases, and consider themselves environmentally conscious. These are some of the findings of a survey among 16,000 Gen Z consumers from six countries in the Asia-Pacific.

Generation Z or those born between 1996 and 2012 will make up a quarter of the Asia-Pacific’s population by 2025, the same as millennials (born 1980 to 1995). But Gen Z aren’t just younger versions of millennials—they have their own characteristics that continue to change as they mature. What are their general attitudes towards brands, shopping, and digital media? How can entrepreneurs leverage off the consumer behavior and purchasing power of Gen Z?

Research by McKinsey surveyed more than 16,000 Gen Z consumers in Australia, Japan, China, Indonesia, South Korea, and Thailand. And after considering seven categories for the study—grocery, QSR, skincare, apparel, beverages, confectionery and snacks, and dairy—it zeroed in on five consumer trends.

Social media as the main avenue

Gen Z have not known a world without the internet and practically grew up with social media. Almost a third of them spend six hours or longer on their phones. This explains why 50 to 60 percent of consumers from this group are influenced by social media when making brand decisions.

Despite this, they know that constant connection sometimes gets in the way of social relationships, which is why they still trust family and friends more than any other source. They acknowledge that people spend too much time on their phones, tend to overshare, and thus are concerned by the use of personal data.

More for less

Before shopping, they research and are especially keen on finding deals. They are also on the lookout for the benefits of personalization, except for some who are reluctant to divulge personal information to retailers and service providers. Despite being young and generally having less money to spend compared to older generations, Gen Z won’t compromise quality for price.  

They “prefer to buy higher-quality products which will last a lifetime.” Customization, limited edition products, and brand collaborations are also factors that attract their attention when purchasing. Simply put, they are tough consumers to please as they want more for less.

Brand personality and uniqueness matters

Popular brands have an edge, but Gen Z would also look for brands that are different and have something that will set them apart. Being widely recognized but still having that sense of relevance will pique the interest of this group. There has to be a balance between popularity and distinction before there’s a chance to connect with these young consumers.

Video content are great influencers

With the popularity of video on platforms such as YouTube and TikTok, Gen Z consumers’ brand selection is affected by video-based content. Seventy percent of them learn about new brands via these channels at least once a month. 

The trend on sustainability

Gen Z from Asia-Pacific say that sustainable consumption matters. Organic food, ethical fashion, and environmentally friendly products are among their top preferences. They also look for locally sourced produce, which affects their overall lifestyle. Sixty to 80 percent of the surveyed Gen Z consumers believe that brands should be held accountable for their actions—but only few from this generation would willingly pay extra for more environmentally responsible products.