With Millennials currently at the peak of their spending power and Gen Z on the horizon, what social trends should marketers be aware of? What will the customer of tomorrow expect and demand?

Kik is a messaging app with 300 million registered users and is especially popular with American teenagers. The company’s data show up one particularly interesting social trend – most of its youthful customers don’t get out much.

Other data draws a similar conclusion. Research company Pew has discovered that one in three US teens hang out with friends outside of school less than ‘every few days’. Teens in the US in particular are spending more time indoors, and are less active than ever.

It’s a macro trend. Research examining time use since 1965 shows a significant decline in active time, accelerating in the mid-1990s, to the point that young people in the US today are sedentary for more than 10 hours a day.

Technology is driving this trend and, at the forefront, is, of course, the smartphone.

Generation Z was the first generation to be raised in the era of smartphones and many do not remember a time before social media.

In 2015, the Pew Research Centre reported that 73% of US teens have access to a smartphone. The figure is growing. Those teens were checking their phones on average more than 80 times a day, according to Deloitte.

Add in ‘helicopter parents’ and perhaps it’s not surprising Gen Z are not going out or meeting pals after school. Instead they are ‘live chilling’ on group video chat apps.

Whereas, Millennials were raised during the boom times of the 1990s, Generation Z also has a different world view. They came along in the era of the war on terror and the Great Recession and – according to studies – it has made them rather serious. A Sparks & Honey trend report called Meet Generation Z finds the cohort places heavy emphasis on being ‘mature and in control’.

According to a survey of risky behaviour by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of high school students who had had at least one drink of alcohol in their lives declined to about 66 per cent in 2013, from about 82 per cent in 1991.

Some have called Gen Z the most career-focused generation in history, as well as the richest – according to a POPAI study on shopping behaviour, ‘tweens’ in the US hold about $43 billion in annual spending power. They are more like the conformist generation that came of age in the 1920s and 1930s. They have also been described as the most entrepreneurial – equipped from the off to invent money-making, internet-related schemes.

If you’re wondering how to reach this new generation, here are some tips.

First, personalise everything. According to focus groups conducted in Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles, Gen Z want brands to be aware of them as individuals rather than a name or number on a list. Do so, of course, while adhering to data privacy regulations and, more broadly, taking into account consumer attitudes towards how that data is used.

Next, connect via social. According to a 2014 survey, when researching new consumer products, 81 per cent of Gen Z use social media as a resource.

Be strategic via advertising. College applicants don’t watch television ads, but they might like chatbots to approach them while they are gassing with pals on Facebook messenger.

A visual generation, Gen Z also like content. That’s why almost 50 per cent of those who participated in the 2014 survey turn to YouTube to learn about new products, compared with only 25 per cent who read emails from brands.

They also love their smartphones and use them to make decisions all day, every day – so to reach Gen Z you’ll need to be transparent, personal, very social – and have a mobile-first strategy.

And, if all that sounds daunting, there is another option – at the other end of the scale. The fastest-growing demographic right now is actually centenarians – people aged over 100. Projections suggest there will be 3.7 million centenarians across the globe in 2050, and, where they lead, marketing will follow.

Source: (CIM) Andy Pemberton / Director Furthr Ltd