Mastercard: Generation Z takes tech-based convenience for granted and values personal relations most

  • Even though Gen Z is the driving force of digitalization, its representatives declare the primacy of face-to-face contacts after the pandemic
  • Money is key for their financial independence, but it is relationships and values that are truly important for the youths
  • As smart shoppers, they look for good value for money and are keen to buy online
  • For them, contactless is mobile and so are other financial services
Gen Z

Mastercard announced the results of a new CEE survey on the attitudes and behaviors of Generation Z (“Gen Z”), the youngest group of consumers, who create future market trends. In 11 countries covered by the study, people aged 18-24 represent 7.2% of the population (approx. 11.5 million) and their importance to the economy is growing- data for Serbia show that this generation has 8.5% of the total population. The new Mastercard research reveals that even though youths are immersed in digital technologies, relationships and face-to-face contacts are of paramount importance for them. They are also engaged in solving social and environmental challenges, expecting brands to do likewise. These always connected smart shoppers expect commerce and financial services to be fast and convenient. They are keen to buy online and are fans of mobile contactless payments as well as mobile banking.

The Mastercard study paints a picture of the young generation relying financially mainly on their parents, yet trying to diversify their sources of income. An average monthly income of a Central-European Gen Z representative amounts to EUR 450. For nearly every third of them (30%) parents are still the main source of income, while 19% have a part-time job and 32% a full-time job. Data for Serbia show that as many as 55% of respondents are financially dependent on their parents, while on the other hand, every fourth has a permanent job, and it is interesting that as many as 77% of them are thinking about starting their own business. They feel dependent on their parents and changing this status-quo is their priority in the nearest future. Their main goals are therefore to complete their education and gain first professional experience. In the future they want to earn some EUR 2000-3000; enough to support their family as well as to save up for an apartment and for a vacation or a trip from time to time.

People and values ahead of money

Although money is important, it is relations with other people Gen Z values the most. Over half of Gen Z (51%) agree that there are more significant things in life than money. Asked about values that are most vital for them, they point to family (67%), health (60%), friends (45%) and love life (43%). Contrary to common perception, in their opinion, nothing can replace face-to-face conversations and 64% like to spend their free time with others (especially friends), rather than alone. Respondents from Serbia are not too different from their peers in the CEE region – they also put family first (75%) and are concerned about the cost of living (55%), employment (52%), the future of the planet (36%) and prices of apartments (32%).

Their appreciation of lofty values is also reflected in their concern for social and environmental issues. Almost half of CEE respondents in the Mastercard study (45%) say that they donate to various foundations and NGOs and 34% get involved in volunteering. When they think about the future, the state of our planet is one of their most common concerns (40%).

Smart shoppers immersed in digital

The first generation born in the times of widespread internet availability is inseparably linked to the digital world. They are heavy users of social media, to stay up to date, interact with friends and pursue their passions. They are most active on YouTube (91%), Instagram (82%) and Facebook (77%). As much as 70% of CEE respondents in the Mastercard survey use social media as a primary source of information and inspiration and 73% talk to their friends via messaging apps every day. Also, they enjoy digital entertainment, streaming music (89%), movies/films (74%) or playing video games (67%) at least once a week. Respondents from Serbia also use YouTube the most (93%) and Instagram (90%), and it is interesting that most of them do not take influencer recommendations for granted (71%).

For this tech-savvy, always-online generation, e-commerce is a natural environment for them – 76% buys online at least once a month, mainly clothing (60%), food (45%) or beauty & care (41%) products. At the same time, they are price-conscious buyers and promo lovers. 74% say they always research different merchants’ offers before check-out and 77% check if the product is available anywhere else on promotion.

Seamless UX is a must

While buying online, they embrace digital payments. However, their most popular forms vary from country to country. While debit cards are the most common way to pay online in Greece, mobile wallets, such as Masterpass, prevail in Ukraine and BLIK has conquered Poland. At the same time, although digital-savvy, 41% of Gen Z pays on delivery, with this method especially popular in Serbia (67%) and Bulgaria (60%).

“Gen Z takes the convenience, which comes with technology, for granted. The brands that want to rule their digital world must offer ease-of-use, speed and seamless experience, preferably all available in their smartphone. This concerns shopping, payments, finance and all other kinds of services. It is worth following these Gen Z’s preferences, as they are the prevailing market trends of tomorrow” – comments Marta Życińska.

Contactless equals mobile

In offline shopping, youths prefer cashless payments, which offer the convenience and speed they look for. 80% of respondents in the Mastercard study pay with a card and 61% use it more often than cash. One of the main obstacle to paying with a card is the lack of POS terminals in stores. As much as 41% of youths believe that there are still too few places accepting card payments.

At the same time, contactless is quickly growing in popularity, with 58% of Gen Z consumers already using this method and 29% planning to do so in the future. While there are CEE countries, where contactless payments are already highly popular (Poland – 79%, Czech Republic – 76%, Slovenia – 67%), some markets have some catching up to do (Bulgaria – 19%, Serbia – 32%, Greece – 36%).

Gen Z is also the group of consumers, which is keen to pay with their mobile device. Mobile contactless payments are enabled by Mastercard’s tokenization technology. Already as much as 38% CEE youths pay contactless with their mobile and 36% want to do so in the future.

Banking in an app

Next to shopping or other services, the young generation is also keen to take advantage of digital solutions in banking. 82% of CEE respondents in the Mastercard survey say they have a bank account. At the same time, banking mobile apps are very popular among all Gen Z users. For them, a good mobile app is one of the most important factors when choosing a financial institution (28%), next to its reputation (40%), customer service level (33%) and its offer (28%).

About the survey

Qualitative and quantitative Kantar study commissioned by Mastercard, executed in March-April 2021; CAWI quantitative poll among 6600 respondents aged 18-24 in 11 countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine. In the qualitative part, over 140 young CEE residents participated in a seven-day online platform, where they discussed many topics related to their daily life and finances.

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