Study: Gen Z likely to buoy email as a favored channel

Those in this emerging consumer demographic, ages 13–21, seem poised to bolster this comms mode, as they barely lag Gens X and Y—and have yet to join the professional workforce.

Gen Z study

Email use is just about saturated among Generations X and Y.

There is one group, though, for whom it is growing: Generation Z, in the 13–21 age group. So little is known about them that they don’t yet have a clear stereotype.

We do know that they view email as essential, thanks to The Future of Digital Communications, a study by SendGrid and Egg Strategy.

Of the Gen Z members polled, 85 percent of have an overwhelming preference for email as a communication channel. They are outranked—for now—in this area by millennials (89 percent) and Gen Xers (92 percent).

Forty-eight percent of Gen Z respondents expect their email use will increase in the next five years, compared with 36 percent of Gen Y and 23 percent of Gen X.

Of 1,200 consumers surveyed overall, 67 percent view email as essential or important to their lives; 33 percent say it is neither.

At the same time, 79 percent of consumers responding say their email use has risen or held steady over the past five years, especially those in younger generations. Three-quarters (74 percent) prefer email as the channel for companies or brands to interact with them.

Granted, text messages and phone calls outweigh email in all generations—but not by much—and email beats out social media and communication apps.

Gen Z is less likely to use email for work—but that’s to be expected, as most have not yet entered the workforce. They deem email essential for:

  • Personal emails between me and individual people I know (outside of work)—68 percent
  • Emails from companies sending advertisements, coupons, receipts from purchases or password resets—68 percent
  • Professional emails between me and people I work with—36 percent
  • Professional emails between me and companies connected to my occupation—24 percent

According to the study, email is preferred by 70 percent of Gen Z for company-to-consumer interactions, compared with 72 percent of millennials and 79 percent of Gen Xers.

Thirty-four percent like to receive physical direct mail in the form of promotions and catalogs. Millennials and Gen Xers are more likely to want that.

Overall, 32 percent of all consumers prefer to sign up for newsletters, including 29 percent of Gen Z. Identical percentages choose to email a company when communicating. However, 39 percent prefer to “like” or follow up in some other way on social media.

Gen Z also ranks highest in anticipated growth in these areas:

  • Professional emails between me and companies connected to my occupation—55 percent
  • Professional emails between me and people I work with—57 percent
  • Advertising or marketing emails from companies sending me information or coupons—42 percent
  • Personal emails between me and individual people I know (outside of work)—35 percent

In addition, 39 percent expect their advertising and marketing communications will increase in the next year, versus 34 percent of Gen Y and 28 percent of Gen X.

Here’s one more piece of good news for email marketers: Content sent by email, text and voice/video chat are viewed as lasting and important. In contrast, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat are seen as having fleeting influence. Facebook straddles the middle.

A version of this post first appeared on MediaPost.

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