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Promo Trends for Gen Z


Gen Z is here and already accounting for billions of dollars in buying power. Born between 1996 and 2011, this demographic is on the rise and already distinguishing themselves from the millennials before them in behaviors and attitudes as consumers. By 2020, Gen Z will represent 40% of consumers, and because the oldest members of this group were 11 when the Great Recession of 2008 hit, they are known for having developed thrifty spending habits that value high quality at low prices.


This generation was also born into the internet and social media, meaning they are often hyper-engaged and cross-referencing information they find online, utilizing the internet as a means to save time; in fact, according to research by professional services firm EY, 63% of Gen Z reports that they choose to shop online to save time, as compared to 55% of millennials.


When looking to attract this growing and influential demographic, here are a few trends that professionals can look to in their promotional marketing:


Make Your Brand Available Online

According to EY’s study, Gen Z prefers to hunt online for the best deals themselves, rather than engaging with a brand’s loyalty or rewards programs. Making information and shopping available online, being efficient, and offering free shipping are all ways to appeal to this highly plugged-in demographic.


Express Individuality with Custom Pins and Patches

Gen Z loves to express themselves as the true, unique individuals they are, making them less-concerned with labels and brands as compared to previous generations. This group likes to wear items that they can use to express and share their identity, both in life and on social media. Some items that are highly on-trend right now are custom pins and embroidered patches that consumers can use to adorn their jackets, bags, etc, with a little personal flare; look especially to those items that share a political or personal message, or a fun and creative design.


Unisex Apparel and Accessories

According to research and consulting firm McKinsey & Company, nearly half of Gen Z (48%) report valuing brands that don’t classify items as male or female: highly-gendered products can sometimes end up being cliched-imaginings of gender roles that younger generations are choosing to explore more openly. In the promo products industry, this may signal a shift towards more unisex apparel and accessories in a company’s offerings, as a way to be more inclusive to all.


Eco-Friendly Apparel and Products

Many young-people in Gen Z want to make a positive impact on the environment, choosing to support brands that also promote sustainability. When it comes to promotional items, these ideals can be reflected in choosing apparel made from recycled polyester and sustainable organic cottons, or stationery and paper products made from recycled materials.


Overall, Gen Z believes in being true to themselves and their values, so being true to your brand without hopping onto a trend in an inauthentic-seeming way is important. How often do you cringe at a company trying to appeal to a younger crowd with a passing meme or fad, only for them to come across as all the more out-of-touch? In fact, according to research from McKinsey & Company, 63% of Gen Z report their friends as being their most trusted source for product recommendations, so having quality and appealing promo that will lead to real, personal recommendations is ideal. Young people can tell when you are being real with them and respecting them as individuals, so authenticity, transparency, and access to information online is a big part of getting ahead in your promo with them.

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