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Appealing to the Gen Z shopper in Canada

Canada’s Generation Z—the kids and young adults in the country born between 1997 and 2012—is a lucrative demographic for brands, especially as it ages into higher levels of income.

Targeting Gen Z is unlike marketing to any other group. For this uber-connected consumer, expectations for brands are higher:

  • Whereas social responsibility from brands was a priority for millennials, social justice is the expectation for the younger age group.
  • Millennials valued brand authenticity, but Gen Z’s expectations are higher and demand brand action and giving back.

Being in tune with such attitudes is important for brands looking to influence how Gen Z shop and manage money. It will also help determine what brand messages resonate with youth culture.

Gen Z gets their primary inspiration to shop from social media. According to PwC’s 2021 Holiday Outlook survey, 80% of Gen Z adult respondents in Canada said social media advertisements were the largest influence on their purchases. A significant reason for the efficacy of social media is paid influencers, which command the attention of Gen Z consumers and place products in real-life situations relatable to youth. Significantly fewer millennial respondents, 63%, said social media ads were their top purchase influence.

Instagram and YouTube are the top destinations for product inspiration and purchases. The PwC Gen Z respondents noted Instagram as the top social site for shopping 74% of the time, followed by YouTube at 71%. That differed significantly from millennials, who chose Facebook as their top social media channel for shopping 72% of the time. Only Gen Z didn’t list Facebook as their primary social commerce channel.

Gen Z adults consider a brand’s values when making a purchase. According to YouGov’s August 2021 polling of adults worldwide, 25% of those ages 18 to 24 said they prioritized a brand’s values before making a purchase. Even though this age group has lower purchasing power than older age groups, price priority was less evident in Gen Z adults than all other cohorts.

Our Take: Since Gen Z relies on social media to learn about products and advance their purchase journey, brands targeting them should focus heavily on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok for organic and paid promotion. Influencer marketing in social media has proven effective for engaging youth. The same applies for content marketing: In developing branded content that entertains or communicates brand values, short videos are most likely to engage this audience.