Often overshadowed by the preceding generation, America’s iGeneration* is finally coming into their own, edging in on Millennials’ turf as a key consumer demographic with their own unique set of characteristics. Among them is a love of direct mail as new research from Mintel reveals that 83 percent of younger iGeneration (age 9-17)** “love getting stuff in the mail.”

60% of younger iGens have used only emojis to communicate

Living up to their reputation of being extremely tech savvy and constantly connected, 68 percent of iGeneration, also referred to as Generation Z, post selfies online. What’s more, half (50 percent) of iGens have used only images/pictures to communicate, including three in five (60 percent) younger iGens who have used only emojis to communicate. This is in line with Mintel’s 2016 North American Consumer Trend Eye Get It, which discusses how shortening attention spans and drive for immediate gratification have resulted in consumers’ relying heavily on images to communicate.

As technology continues to play a pivotal role in the lives of younger consumers, dependence on social media for communication is apparent: 52 percent of younger iGens have provided a peer their social media handle in lieu of a phone number. However, they take precautions when sharing information online, with 56 percent keeping their social media profiles private and one third (34 percent) posting on anonymous social media platforms.

“While Millennials are often called ‘digital natives,’ the term more accurately describes the iGeneration. iGens age 13 and older are extremely social media literate, and using images to ‘talk’ to each other is second nature. However, iGens turn to the internet to connect and be entertained – not to be sold to. While older iGens are likely having their digital inboxes filled with promotional materials, brands may be missing a huge opportunity by foregoing direct mail, a channel where we know they are open to brand engagement,” said Fiona O’Donnell, Category Manager, Multicultural, Lifestyles, Leisure and Travel at Mintel.

Trends-among-America's-iGeneration

Despite two thirds (67 percent) of older generations perceiving iGens age 18-21*** as being tech-obsessed, Mintel research reveals these consumers highly value personal connections. Three in four (73 percent) older iGens say that they need to spend time in-person to feel connected to others, while 58 percent of younger iGens need to talk face-to-face to feel connected.

It’s no secret that US teenagers possess healthy levels of self-esteem, but Mintel research indicates that younger iGens think highly of themselves but not necessarily their peers. Younger iGens associate positive characteristics such as “hard-working” (37 percent), “responsible” (54 percent) and “smart” (70 percent) with themselves, but associate less flattering characteristics such as “busy” (27 percent), “trendy” (38 percent), and “always on a cell phone” (52 percent) with their peers.

“While attitudes and behaviors related to social media are unique in some ways to iGens, our research indicates that they show concerns for the quality of online interactions and value personal, face-to-face connections. As a result, brands do not necessarily need to start at square one when marketing to iGens. Keeping in mind boundaries for their online privacy, brands should engage with iGens through campaigns that employ themes similar to how they see themselves, including ‘hard-working’ and ‘responsible,’”continued O’Donnell.

Having grown up in an increasingly diverse society, the oldest iGens are more likely to display an inclusive attitude when it comes to relationships as the majority feel good about the impact that interracial couples (69 percent), gay marriage (57 percent) and individuals having children later in life (51 percent) have on society (compared to 58 percent, 39 percent and 45 percent of consumers overall, respectively). Furthermore, characterized by a greater diversity within their own population, seven in 10 (69 percent) iGens age 18-21 also feel that increasing diversity in the US is a positive to society.

“Even more so than Millennials, iGens have grown up with greater exposure to other cultures, ethnicities and alternative lifestyles relative to older generations. Gay marriage, transgender individuals and interracial couples are more commonplace for the youngest generation, and, as a result, iGens’ attitudes are less about tolerance and more of a celebration of differences. And with young people having at least some idea about global issues, iGens are confident to take a side and express an opinion which can have an impact on their brand loyalties. Companies that cater to this generation should consider how taking a stance on controversial issues can help or hinder their relationship with the iGen audience,” concluded O’Donnell.

* Mintel defines the iGeneration, as Americans age 9-21
** Mintel surveyed 1,500 younger iGens
*** Mintel surveyed 209 older iGens

Press copies of the Marketing to the iGeneration US 2016 report and interviews with Fiona O’Donnell, Category Manager, Multicultural, Lifestyles, Leisure and Travel, are available on request from the press office.

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