Updated: Jan 14, 2021
Succeeding Millennials and preceding Generation Alpha, Gen Z is the term used to describe those born between 1995 and 2015. The oldest of this demographic cohort will have turned 26 by the end of this year, and the youngest turning 6. This means that Gen Z is the next generation of travellers, and therefore the target of marketers to create long-standing brand loyalty within the world’s newest consumers. Gen Zers make up 25.9% of the global population and this is expected to rise to 40% by the end of 2020. Difficult to think of travel right now? On the contrary, the older members of this generation are desperate to travel as soon as they can (18 - 26 year olds).
Informed by a recent European Travel Commission study of 2800 Gen Z participants aged between 18-24 in China, Germany, the USA and UK, it has been shown that Gen Z travellers should matter to destinations as an “agent of change”. They are key players in shifting consumer demand, thinking of travel as an essential element of life, and no longer as just an escape from reality as previous generations highlight.
This younger generation of travellers, considered as “tech natives”, are always adapting to the latest technology, therefore becoming constantly connected, more flexible and able to think outside of the box. The cohort is also hyper-aware of their impact on the environment as well as personal health and human behaviour, opening and boosting new markets. Thus, regarding travel, Gen Z paves the way for other generations by discovering new places, new activities and new cultural elements to explore with an emphasis on ethical use, compared to previous generational mass-consumption.
As this cohort grows and gains financial independence, they will shape the future of travel demand. It is expected that there will be a growth in outbound travel from Africa, Latin America and South-East Asia. The European Travel Commission’s survey found that Gen Zers are less likely to be put off by Coronavirus restrictions when travelling and are less supportive of the closure of destinations and tourism activities. This means that Gen Z is a more reliable consumer in today’s market, making them a point of interest for destination marketers.
Therefore, it is important to monitor and understand the traits and motivations of Gen Z travellers to capture their attention and promote destinations. But what do Gen Zers want as consumers of travel and how can marketers draw them in?
One of the main reasons for choosing a destination for the generation cohort is budget, with 47% of survey participants suggesting that value for money, 45% of participants suggesting the availability of cheap flights and 32% suggesting that availability of cheap accommodation would affect their travel choices. Gen Z consumer behaviour is reflected in the survey, with 42% of participants selecting a safe and secure destination as one of their reasons for the choice of holiday, showing their acute awareness of human behaviour and personal health.
Due to the constant connection from advances in technology, such as smartphones, Gen Z is more likely to use these devices for trip research with 70% of participants doing so. Due to the rise of social media platforms on these devices such as TikTok and Instagram, and in China WeChat, it has become more important than ever for marketers to connect with their Gen Z consumers with mobile-friendly, visually stimulating content.
Currently, Gen Z faces many challenges ahead due to the spread of Covid-19 with major disruption to education and the job market as the UK heads struggles through a recession. Post-virus, it will be more important than ever to uplift and unite the generational cohort through travel, which they deem as an essential element in life.