classic-mens-watchSurprisingly, it’s not baby boomers who are most into watches, it’s smartphone-savvy young people of Generation Z, according to the Jewellery and Watches Retailing Report, by Mintel, a UK-based market research firm. Here’s a look at Gen Z and their jewelry preferences.

Generation Z is defined as those born after the mid-1990s until the early 2000s, so they are about 13 to 21 years old right now. They’re the first generation raised on smart technology and the Internet, and as a result are savvy buyers used to doing research in advance.

Prefer phones over watches?

At the start of the decade, data suggested that young people had lost interest in watches, preferring instead to pull out their smartphones to see what time it is. A YouGov survey in 2011 found that 59 percent of 16 to 34-year-olds in the US used a mobile phone to tell the time. While 69 percent of them owned watches, only 26 percent were wearing one at the time of the survey. And in 2013, a YouGov survey of British 18 to 39 year-olds found that 61 percent used a phone to tell the time.

But Mintel’s report tells a different story: It showed that one in five 16 to 24 year-olds were thinking of buying a watch “in the coming months”, as well as a similar percentage of those aged 25 to 34. It also found that the young are the biggest buyers of all age groups.

While an average of 12 percent of people in Britain were considering buying a traditional or digital watch in the next six months, the figure rose to 26 percent among men aged 16 to 24, and to 16 per cent among women. Indeed, “Demand for classic timepieces remains strong among the youngest shoppers,” says retail analyst and author of the report, Alice Goody.

However, smartwatches still face resistance among the young. According to Mintel’s research, 44 percent of the 16 to 24 age group did not want to buy them; half of these were put off because prices remain high.

Gen Z does research online

Young people are often too intimidated to even walk into a jewelry store, according to some experts, so photo-focused sites such as Instagram and social media posts have a lot to do with the renewed interest in watches among young people.

An international survey among 3,000 people in China, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and Switzerland confirmed that bloggers and social media have a great influence on young people’s buying decisions,” says Luc Zobrist, an economic analyst at consultants Deloitte. According to Mintel’s report, consumers aged 27 to 36 are the most likely to buy a watch online.

They’re all about the deal

Gen Z-ers do their research; they visit multiple websites, use apps that compare prices and alert them when prices drop, and regularly search and apply coupon codes, says Ellen Fruchtman of Fruchtman Marketing in Toledo, Ohio. “This generation likes a good deal.”

This generation is hyper-connected and will price check everything to ensure they are getting a deal,” says another jewelry industry expert.” “They are deal hunters who buy online,” adds Chris Ciunci, co-founder of TribalVision in Providence, an outsourced marketing firm that develops strategies for jewelry companies and others.

Although this age group has a taste for the traditional today, it will be interesting to see if that taste will continue when they have more income and are making larger purchasing decisions. This generation currently buys one out of every 10 items online, but that number is expected to grow as this generation gets older and has more of its own money to spend, according to Ciunci.

Jérôme Lambert, chief executive of Montblanc adds, “The pride of ownership is not sufficient any more. A product has to bring an experience. There is much more balance for the new generation between the experience a product delivers and the pride of ownership.”

Source: Mintel