Just last month, Etsy put down a big payment on Depop. The $1.6B acquisition is yet the biggest acquisition for Etsy so far.

This is not new news, but we are going to talk about it because the deal signals an appetite for companies serving Generation Z. I have no doubt we will get to see more of these acquisitions in the near future.

Etsy's demographics are young moms and aunties, at the age of 36 years old max, Depop serves Generation Z with the age range from 15 - 25 years old.

According to Depop's newsroom:

  • Fashion marketplace app where the next generation comes to discover unique items.
  • 26M+ registered users in over 147 countries.
  • Users aged 20 to 29 years form the largest user group.
  • 90% of active users are under the age of 26.

While Generation Z's tendency to cancel skinny jeans still puts a pout on my face, its buying power is something we can't kid with.

In 2020, Generation Z holds account to 40% of all customers, which translates to $44B. But that's not all of it, Generation Z also has immense influence on their Millennial parents' spending, which translates to another sum of $600B.

So we're talking about roughly $644B of buying power, making Generation Z emerge as one of the most powerful and important consumer forces today.

You might want to get your tickets to sit at their table, starting now.

Profiling Generation Z

  • A.K.A: Gen Z, or Zoomers
  • A few other names for this generation to get your heart rate up: iGeneration, Gen Tech, Homeland Generation, Internet Generation,...
  • Born after 1996, the oldest members of Gen Z are currently 25 years old.
  • Population cap: ~24 million.
  • The first generation of digital natives: to be born and have grown up alongside the internet and technology.
Overall, in developed countries, Gen Z has been shown to be more well-educated, more well-behaved, less risk-averse, and less self-indulgent.

Generation Z is more diverse in terms of races and ethnicities

The racial and ethnic composition of Gen Z is as followed as of 2019:

  • White: 52%
  • Hispanic: 25%
  • Black: 14%
  • Asian: 6%
  • Others: 5%

Going forward, we will see a continuous decrease in White, a slight increase in Black, a steady increase in Asian and others.

According to Census Bureau projections, this generation is projected to become majority nonwhite in the next 5 years.

Generation Z is the most well-educated generation so far.

Nearly half of Generation ages 7 to 17 live with at least one parent who had a bachelor's degree or higher education.

This results in:

  • 57% of the first batch of Gen Z were enrolled in a 2-year or 4-year college in 2018.
  • Upcoming batches of Gen Z are most likely to finish high school and pursue higher education like college.
  • Gen Z is less likely to be working than previous generations when they were teens and young adults.

Generation Z is born digital natives with sharp filters and a short attention span.

  • Gen Z is born into the digital age and grows up surrounded by technology.
  • Fully 95% of teens have access to a smartphone.
  • 45% say they are online almost constantly.
  • Their attention span is estimated to at just 8 seconds, but that's because they have developed a sophisticated filter growing up in a sea of digital noise.
  • No devotion to a single social media platform. They are frequent users of multiple ones.
  • Most popular social platforms for Gen Z in order: YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, then Facebook.
  • Lower-income teens are more likely to gravitate toward Facebook than those from higher-income households.

Generation Z is more open-minded, liberal-learning, and actively engaged in advocating for social changes.

  • Gen Z tends to hold human activities responsible for environmental issues like climate change.
  • In their views on race, Gen Z believes blacks are treated less fairly than whites.
  • $48% of Gen Z and 47% of Millennials say legalizing gay marriage is a good thing for our society, same as how multi-cultural marriage is a good thing for our society.
  • Gen Z is the most likely to say that when a form or online profile asks about a person’s gender, options other than “man” and “woman” should be included.
  • The majority of Gen Z and Millennials say they would feel “very” or “somewhat” comfortable using a gender-neutral pronoun to refer to someone if asked to.

Selling to Generation Z

Every movement introduces challenges, but sweat not. With understanding, we old folks will adapt and evolve well.

Here are a few strategies to get you thinking about how you could win Gen Z over.

Technological convenience must become a given

It's not even a question at this point. Gen Zers are products of the digital age, they have high expectations for digital experiences. They are fluent when it comes to using devices, spend most of their time staring at their phones, and have access to countless digital products.

  • Mobile-first: more than 50% of Gen Zers spend an average of 11 hours staring at their phone. The phone becomes their primary source of information, means of connections, and entertainment. Whatever we are selling, we need to make sure their mobile experience is the best we can offer.
  • Mobile-first companies saw 825% higher average IPO valuation in 2020 (App Annie)
  • Privacy matters. According to NGen, 88% of Gen Z agreed with the statement “protecting my privacy is very important to me"
  • There's also no room for technological fails. Their high digital literacy and easy access to information increase the chance of them switching to similar products/platforms faster than we can blink.
  • Ease of use, accessibility and simplicity.
In 2017, adidas stopped all of its TV advertising and shifted its efforts toward digital marketing and mobile, focusing on resonating with Gen Z through fixing environmental and social issues.

Sell beyond products and services

While Gen Zers genuinely care about the products or the services, they care more about the backbone values that make a company.

  • Shift emphasis from products and services to brand story, create and communicate a compelling narrative about why we do what we do.
  • Build trust and emotional connections. Selling to Gen Zers should not feel like a seller-to-buyer activity, it should be a friend recommending something to another friend instead.
  • Be honest and authentic. Beware of the "cancel culture". The very second we fail to live up to our promises or what we do doesn't match what we say, we're out.
Depop's mission is to transform fashion for a better future. First thing we see on depop's website is links to their mobile app.

Advocate for society values

Gen Zers care about making the world a better place. In order to speak to Gen Z, we will need to start paying more attention to how we can contribute to a society, how we bring goodness with what we do. Sustainability.

Thrive Causemetics advertises "conscious beauty" while creating social impacts by supporting women and diversity.

ecosia - the search engine that plants trees with each search

Design a non-binary buying journey

Gen Zers are almost always in search of products or services that can represent who they are individually, let them be themselves, or set them apart from others in a crowd.

Thus, the buying journey designed for Gen Zers will have to be a little bit like an exploration.

  • It's a combination of multiple formats: social media, specialty store, popup store, website, forums... the goal is to make them experience the brand every step of the way, at every moment.
  • Work with micro-influencers. Instead of big-shot celebrities, Gen Zers are close followers of micro-influencers who they can actually interact and collaborate with.
  • More video content. 70% of Gen Zers say they learn about new brands via video-based social media like Tiktok and Youtube.
  • More images of real people. 82$ of Gen Zers say that they trust a company more if images of real customers are used.

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Illustration: Girls taking selfie Illustration on Iconscout