Reaching millennials — people born between 1981 and 1996 — has been a special project of businesses across the commercial spectrum for the past two decades. Having grown up during the dawn of the Internet Age, millennials have often been a tough nut to crack for building product companies and other traditional businesses. Millennials shop online more often, have access to more information prior to the sale than previous generations, and are likely to act on the word-of-mouth endorsement of friends rather than on traditional advertising. 

As a group, however, millennials are more cash-strapped and debt-burdened than previous generations, with 61 percent delaying home purchases due to student debt, according to Business Insider. Many also find themselves trapped in the Great American Affordability Crisis — still reeling from aftermath of the 2008 Great Recession while dealing with a higher cost of living than previous generations. 

For these reasons, many building product companies are starting to turn their gaze toward Gen Z consumers, or persons born after 1996. Entering the job market at a time when jobs are more plentiful and the economy is more stable, Gen Z represents a powerful and growing demographic. According to a recent TransUnion report, home purchasing among Gen Zers is skyrocketing, with 83 percent of them planning to purchase a home within the next five years. From the second quarter of 2018 to the second quarter of 2019, the number of Gen Zers carrying a mortgage more than doubled from 150,000 to 319,000, illustrating many have their eyes on the prize of homeownership.

Knowing who Gen Zers are, what is important to them and how to effectively reach them will be critical for building product companies competing in the marketplace. This paper will discuss what makes Gen Z consumers unique, the challenges and opportunities for building product companies, and examples of effective outreach to this increasingly important consumer segment.

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