As we reach the end of the decade, one of the most important population shifts has come to pass: Gen Z outnumbers millennials. Now that the eldest members of Gen Z are beginning to have children, marketers of baby and childcare products need to adapt their strategies to reach this demographic, whose lifestyle and purchasing habits differ greatly from the millennials who came before them.
The recent Healthline Parenthood Study from Healthline Media revealed that new and expecting Gen Z parents (ages 18-22) were more likely to continue spending on themselves than young millennial (23-30) and older millennial (31-39) counterparts. Fifty-seven percent of Gen Z survey respondents indicated that they did not cut spending on items for themselves, compared with 49 percent of millennials. The survey included responses from 6,500 new or expecting parents.
Across all three groups, respondents were more likely to shop regularly at child-focused stores and less often at stores that primarily sell items for adults since becoming a parent or soon-to-be parent. Two out of five new and expecting parents said they shopped online more since a baby came into the picture.
But there were sharp differences by generation when it comes to where each group regularly shops. For example, the survey showed a small drop (4 percent) in Gen Z new and expecting parents that regularly shop in clothing stores such as Gap or J. Crew, in contrast with a 28 percent decline among millennials.
The survey also found that shopping regularly at big box stores like Buy Buy Baby and Babies “R” Us rose among younger and older millennials since becoming a parent or soon-to-be parent (57 percent and 76 percent, respectively), while the rise in shopping was less pronounced among their Gen Z counterparts (48 percent).
And although eco-related considerations when deciding which product to buy were considered important by around two-thirds of the respondents from all three groups, 42 percent of Gen Z parents considered it the most important factor, compared with 34 percent of older millennials and 33 percent of younger millennials.
So what criteria are shaping these trends?
Focus on Gen Z’s values, not on marketing gimmicks
Clearly, parents today differ from those of previous generations in many ways. Gen Z is the first digitally native generation. As such, people in this generation have different expectations. Gen Z parents expect fast access to information and services. They embrace a holistic, all-inclusive approach that shapes who they are as parents. Gen Z believes in the power of personal development and that taking control of their own—as well as their family’s—well-being is a way of life.
Marketers already realize that they’re dealing with a group of consumers who are especially marketing savvy. Gen Z parents want to be informed and will research to learn where and how a product is made. Members of this generation know how to access information quickly and make purchasing decisions based on eco-friendly factors. Large retailers will need to meet Gen Z where they are by providing quick, transparent access to information about their companies’ stewardship and values.
What matters most is that a brand’s business practices align with Gen Z’s values. This generation is less prone to attention-getting marketing gimmicks. Members of this generation want to see behind the curtain. Our survey found 75 percent of Gen Z members look up brands on social media and 86 percent research the safety or brand of a product. E-commerce companies may have a smaller megaphone, but if their message is thoughtful and sincere, they will be heard.
Meanwhile, the newer generation of parents is more eco-aware than ever before. We are seeing a shift away from mass consumerism to more mindful, conscious purchase decisions. For example, the dietary supplements brand Zarbee’s Naturals personifies these tenets. Known for its handpicked vitamins and supplements, packed with wholesome ingredients, Zarbee’s is a natural partner for Healthline Parenthood, our new resource for this new generation of parents.
Healthline Media—publisher of Healthline.com and the No. 1 online health media outlet in the U.S., with 86 million unique visitors each month—launched Healthline Parenthood in October to be a holistic resource for new parents or soon-to-be parents. Healthline’s mission to provide free access to evidence-based science and research, news and feature articles that are inclusive and unbiased, and to be the go-to resource for individuals who care about their well-being, dovetails seamlessly with our desire to support these consumers as they build healthy and happy families.
Our survey revealed a gap in resources that speak to the whole person, not just their role as mom or dad. A majority reported current resources focus only on the baby, not on parents. The marketers who help these new parents meet these challenges will have the greatest success in the coming decade.