What really influences Z's decisions?

26 March 2018 / Brían Taylor

Z’s behaviour and opinions are majorly influenced both actively and passively by brand activity, friends and family, peer reviews, online communities and social media ‘influencers’.

When Z are actively seeking information to help them make an decision, be it buying a car, prepping for an interview or selecting a university, Jaywing found that the importance of family is a key influencer. Z cited family as one of the top 3 most influential sources of information in almost every scenario questioned (Table 1). The importance of their family and peers strengthens further for more major events – implying they place significant value on direct life experience when gathering information on ‘bigger’ life decisions (BBC Newsbeat, 2017). In other scenarios, the importance of information channels shifts according to the type of decision being made. When it comes to decisions relating to brands, websites are consulted more than any other channel prior to purchase (Figure 12).

Figure 12 - "Thinking about brands you have bought from (online or offline) in the previous 6 months, how often do you undertake the following actions prior to making a purchase?"

This signifies that Z trust a brand website as their primary source of information on a product and still default to finding out the information first-hand from source. Social media was the second most influential source of information for purchases, suggesting that validation, reviews and information from brand channels still should be a critical consideration when constructing content, to ensure product ‘truths’ don’t get lost in the messaging. Searching for a home and buying a car both entail heavy use of specialist apps (e.g. Rightmove, Autotrader) with Family and friends the second most important, followed by third party review sites (Table 1, below).

2017 has seen the continued rise of influencer marketing, with brands and influencers both happy to enter into partnerships for commercial gain. Z respondents were relatively indifferent to this tactic from brands. Nearly 40% were on the fence as to whether they like or dislike influencer content delivery, with this content disliked only slightly less than content delivered via Snapchat stories (referring back to Figure 7). The danger for brands is the potential wear-out of the audience echoed in fact that two thirds are indifferent or negative to influencer content.

Table  1 - "The most influential information source for Gen Z per life decision scenario"

Key brand points

1. The importance of owned spaces such as brand websites shouldn’t be underestimated. For Gen Z, these become a critical part of their decision-making process and therefore you should budget accordingly.

2. Brands should consider the influencer’s existing percentage of branded content, the invasiveness of the brand within the content, and the stand-out the content is likely to get within the influencer’s broadcast plan.

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