Stepping beyond stereotypes: Gen Z is just a number

The race has begun: Marketers all around the world are hurrying to learn how to tap into Gen Z’s highly anticipated spending power. But targeting Gen Z, like any other generational cohort, comes with a major risk of stereotyping. They may be known as TikTok loving digital natives, but what makes Gen Z tick when it comes to your products and category?

Despite its many pitfalls, stereotyping remains common practice in the industry. This is because our brains are hardwired to stereotype as a way of simplifying the social world around us. Subconsciously categorising people based on their similarities, we believe, gives us an advantage in understanding society. Whilst in modern times we try to rewire our innate bias and judgement to avoid the trap of discrimination, stereotyping was once a survival skill. It was crucial to quickly process whether someone was ‘good’ or ‘bad’ to ultimately prevent us from getting into a life-threatening situation.

There are several major consequences of stereotyping in business and marketing:

No room for nuances

Stereotypes are often exaggerated to a point that they no longer accurately portray the people in the (alleged) group. Whilst the stereotype may stem from a kernel of truth, it can result in many people slipping between the cracks when they don’t match up to the exact generational stereotype. This lack of nuanced understanding can lead to missed opportunities.

Uninspired starting points

If a business takes the same stereotypical view of an audience as its competitors, it will likely lack originality and risks developing lookalike products and communications. In fact, those built around stereotypes are often viewed as cliché and struggle to connect with the consumer in an authentic way.

Times change, stereotypes remain

Humans and society are ever-evolving and at increasing speed, so what was once a ‘truth’ may no longer be. Stereotypes are often difficult to shake off, even if proven wrong, as they become assumed truths within the fabric of our society.

A bespoke segmentation can unearth what really matters to consumers and provide rich insights and valuable nuances within your business context in three crucial ways:

  1. Behaviours are not necessarily exclusive to one age group; it is very possible that a Zoomer (Gen Z) has more in common with their 50-year-old colleague than someone their own age when considering how they shop or consume within your category. Segmentation eliminates this risk, building on needs, attitudes, or behaviours rather than demographics.
  2. Designing segmentation surveys on past knowledge can lead to your brand being outdated, but leading a segmentation with qualitative research can provide a rich understanding of your audience in today’s context and help bring the segments to life.
  3. Segmentation can help map out key customer needs and determine how well these are being met by your business’ current portfolio of products/services. It can help identify potential white spaces that the business can tap into to expand or further cement its position in the market.

Get in touch to discuss how we can help you design a bespoke segmentation that will speak to the heart of your consumer.