|▲ Consumption culture of Generation MZ|
Recently, Generation MZ has emerged as a leader in the consumer market. Generation MZ (Gen MZ) is a term referring to both Millennials, born between 1980-1995, and Generation Z’s, born between 1996 and the early 2000s. Gen MZ is more familiar with the digital environment as compared with other generations, so they have a different consumer culture from the previous generation. For example, taking pictures after purchasing products, sharing them on SNS, or sharing product review videos on YouTube. In addition, unlike the older generations who bought houses or paid off loans by saving money, Gen MZ tends to spend money boldly on their own, despite any financial burden. Millennials and Gen Z have the same consumption characteristics, however, there are also differences. What are the differences in consumption characteristics between the Millennials and Generation Zs? What are the trends in consumption led by them?
Millennials, also known as Generation Y, grew up in an environment mixed with analog and digital technologies. They are also called, “digital nomads”. They are more familiar with TV than with SNS because they spend more time exposed to one-way media outlets, such as TV, rather than two-way media outlets, such as internet and SNS. Therefore, they are attracted to celebrities and on TV, they tend to buy clothes and shoes that they want to wear from various shopping channels. On the other hand, Generation Z, the next generation of Millennials, grew up in a digital environment from an early age, so they are called, “digital natives.” Like the Millennials, Gen Z is familiar with videos, but they are more familiar with smartphone images, such as YouTube rather than with TV. Therefore, they tend to get product information through YouTube and consume it on the recommendation of certain creators, who have built empathy and trust with their consumers.
Millennials and Generation Z, who look similar but differ, care about social values, such as ethical fairness. Therefore, they want to express their beliefs through consumption. This is reflected in, “Meaning-out consumption.” “Meaning out consumption,” refers to consumption activities that demonstrate their beliefs and values through consumption. This became a popular topic on SNS and has become a kind of consumption culture among Generation MZ.
Typical examples of meaning-out consumption are buycotts and second-hand markets. A buycott is the opposite of a boycott, which means buying goods from a store that has done good deeds. The most representative example is a chicken restaurant that served free chicken to brothers, who wandered around in front of a chicken restaurant because they had no money to pay for their meal. As the story spread on SNS, orders flooded the chicken restaurant, and there were even consumers who ordered, paid, and did not receive chicken. As such, the Gen MZ is showing its belief by actively consuming products from ethical companies, while boycotting products from unethical ones.
Generation MZ is also interested in second-hand markets. In a survey conducted by The Campus Journal, 93.8% of the respondents said they had used the second-hand markets, and all respondents said they were positive about using second-hand markets. The background of the Gen MZ’s positive opinion of second-hand markets lies in, ‘Nth new product.’ The ‘Nth new product,’ refers to a trend that is accepted as a new product, even if it is traded several times (Nth times). Gen MZ wants to experience a variety of products rather than use one for a long period of time. In response, Choi Sung-kyu, majoring in the Department of Architecture, said, “As new items continue to emerge, the old ones disappear quickly. If I use a second-hand market, I can sell things that I no longer need, and buy things that I want at a low price.” In addition, Gen MZ also uses second-hand markets to express their beliefs. Seo Hyo-bin, majoring in the Department of Materials Engineering, said, “I am usually interested in environmental issues. I often use second-hand markets because it protects the environment more effectively than recycling.”
Generation MZ is leading the consumption trend as the subject of economic activities and playing a role as a leader in making desirable changes in society. Companies are working quickly to capture Gen MZ. In the past, a company’s marketing strategy was simply to inform consumers of its products, but now it is more than just advertising. Many companies started taking the initiative in environmental protection, by conducting social activities, such as volunteer work. The small actions of the Gen MZ for valuable consumption, are leading to a big change towards a healthy society. I hope that the virtuous cycle of businesses and consumers will not only be temporary but also become a universal culture and a more desirable society.
By Park Yu-jeong, cub-reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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