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In marketing, product development, and certainly in tech circles, all of the rage has been about the Millennial generation. And for good reason – this generation (which we’ll define as being born between 1980 – 2000) is the biggest cohort in American history. In fact, they’re even bigger than the Baby Boomer generation. An estimated 92 million of them is expected to be incredibly influential in the economy over the coming decade, as this group starts to move into major purchases, such as homes and stock investing.

But Millennials aren’t our subject today. As much as we love them. (And, ahem, some of us here at InterQ may belong in that generation.) Today we’re going to talk about Generation Z. Because their impact is going to be Huge. With a capital H.

First off, what is Generation Z, anyway?

Generation Z is (generally) defined as those born from 1995-2012. They’re young, but don’t let that fool you – this generation has enormous impact. For this age group, technology has always been a part of their lives – what most of us have experienced, from the internet catapulting us into a whole new realm of communications, to constantly being connected to a smartphone – is nothing special to this cohort. They were born into our always-connected world.

As this generation enters their 20s, the impact they are having on brands, product choices, and shopping preferences are already creating a ripple effect throughout our economy. In market research, we’re excited and geared up to be doing research with this generation, and we have some specific ways of delivering insights that are tailored to capturing how this age group interacts with products and services.

Social media listening

One-hundred percent of Generation Zers are online/on their mobile devices for at least an hour a day, and 46% are connected 10 or more hours a day. This generation prefers social media networks that include Snapchat, Secret, and Whisper. Almost a quarter have left Facebook just this year.

The fact that this demographic spends so much time online offers a treasure trove of research data for us. Using a qualitative research methodology known as social media listening, we’re able to mine thousands of their conversations at any given moment in time. (Clarification: Public conversations. We never violate privacy rules when looking at social media habits and trends.) For a full explanation of how we use social media listening to produce cutting-edge, actionable insights, read this great social media listening blog where we sat down and chatted with Kate Minkner, our head of online research.

Online and mobile ethnographic research

Since Generation Z is almost constantly connected to their devices, another qualitative market research methodology we use is online and mobile ethnographic research. In practice, how we deploy this technique might look like this: We recruit our sample and have them log into our cloud-based qualitative app. Based on the assignment, they’ll snap pics on their phone and write in short responses to questions that pop up as they go through exercises or record their observations. Because this age group is so comfortable with their phones, this type of research methodology folds naturally into their routines, and we’re able to get insightful glimpses into their patterns and observations. With a younger demographic, we often prefer this type of ethnographic research, versus more traditional ethnographic studies, which may include shop-alongs or in-person observation.

But make no mistake: We still conduct focus groups with this demographic

Even though this generation is constantly connected, we can still learn so much from in-person conversations and interviews. Focus groups and in-depth interviews are amazing ways to have constructive conversations with this demographic, and the insights give us actionable ways to help shape a brand or launch a product.

Generation Z is coming – is your brand prepared?

The oldest segment of Generation Z is already in college. They are smart, savvy, and connected consumers, and they will be shaping the face of brands and defining how they want products to fold into their lives. They pay attention to how they’re treated, and they reward brands that they love. As you think about your product and branding strategy moving forward, make sure you invest in market research that is specifically designed to understand this crucial generation.

InterQ Research offers cutting-edge market research for every demographic. Request a proposal >