Knit green logo
Knit Bell Icon | Knit Video Insights Platform & AI Analysis Solutions

NEW: Unparalleled speed-to-insight with Knit’s newest release of AI Contextual Analysis™ for VoC Video & OE Responses

Gen Z engaging with brands

Email vs SMS: How Gen Z Prefers to Engage with Brands

It’s time for another round of versus. Today the question is: how does Gen Z prefer to engage with brands? Is it all about the emails? The text messages? We did a study with 122 Gen Z respondents ages 18-25 who match the US census. And we found some very interesting information, including some eye-opening tidbits.

Gen Z’s spending power is ever-growing. They have a disposable income estimated at $360 billion. And they don’t think that brands are doing a good job marketing to them. As many as 72% of Gen Zers think that brands can do better. That’s why our Gen Z’s Brutal Feedback on Your Marketing report is a must-read.

According to Gen Z, brands are lacking in many areas, like when using Gen Z slang –– Don’t. Because over half of Gen Zers think that brands don’t know how to talk to them. Authenticity is another area where marketing is lacking. Knit has written about how crucial inclusivity and inclusive products are. Gen Zers don’t want manufactured authenticity, and 44% have experienced a brand partnership with a celebrity or influencer that caused them to no longer consider purchasing from that brand. The ramifications of missteps in marketing clearly have big consequences. So, how does this relate specifically to email vs SMS? Let’s find out what Gen Z really thinks.

We’ll start with a fun guessing game. How many unopened emails vs text messages do you think Gen Z has on average in their inboxes? You’ll get another piece of the puzzle to help you in your estimates: 45.9% of Gen Zers only open emails and text messages that they value as the most important.

Email vs SMS Subscriptions and Gen Z

Insert drumroll and cool sound effects. 9,902. That’s how many emails are sitting collecting virtual dust in Gen Zers’ inboxes on average. The number of texts is lower at 80.6. But it’s good to remember that Gen Zers are almost four times more likely to subscribe to companies and brands for email marketing (22.8 average subscriptions) than SMS/text messages (5.6 average subscriptions). 

So, what are the top types of companies and brands that Gen Z subscribes to for emails? The number one category is apparel, shoes, and accessories at 60.7%. The next four are much closer in popularity in the mid to low 40%. They are in order of popularity: delivery services (Uber Eats etc.), beauty, entertainment (including streaming & movies/TV), and food & beverage (including alcohol).

Gen Z is less likely to subscribe to text messages from companies and brands. Apparel, shoes & accessories is still the number one category but only at 41%. The second category here, too, is delivery services, but this time at only 31.1%.

Do emails and texts translate into purchases for Gen Z?

Not only do Gen Zers subscribe to more companies and brands through email vs SMS, but a higher percentage also state having made a purchase from an email vs a text message. A majority of Gen Zers (66%) have made a purchase from an email they received from a brand, which is higher than for text messages (48%). And the apparel, shoes & accessories category continues to dominate here as well. It has about double the amount of Gen Zers having purchased from an email or SMS vs the second closest category in both areas. 

What makes Gen Z subscribe to emails or SMS from a brand?

This will probably not come as a huge surprise, but Gen Z mostly subscribes to get discounts, incentives, and coupons. This is true for both emails and SMS. The percentage is higher for emails (74.6%) than for text messages (58.2%). Loyalty & rewards points is second, but the third most important reason differs. The third category for email is exclusive product drops (be the first to know) vs product info for SMS or texts.

It’s all about the feels

There are some fascinating differences when it comes to feelings. We asked our respondents what emotions they typically feel when receiving an email or an SMS/text from a company or brand. The top three emotions are the same for both modes of communication, but the number one mentioned feeling couldn’t be more opposite. Gen Z states being typically curious (38.5%) when receiving an email but annoyed (38.5%) when they get an SMS or text from a brand or company. The second most common emotion was indifference for both, and the third for emails was annoyed vs curious for SMS/text.

When asked how they prefer to hear from a brand or company if they only could choose one, 66.4% of Gen Z said they’d pick email.

Why do you prefer emails?

“A text is very invasive. Emails can be viewed at certain times”

“Because I get texts from family that are more important than any brand or company”

“Because i can easily unsubscribe whenever I want”

“I feel like it’s more professional”

Why do you prefer SMS or texts?

“Email is over used”

“Easier to access”

“i will see it right away”

“It’s more personalized”

We’ll leave you with one more fun nugget. The top brands to get emails from for our zoomers were: Amazon (11.4%), Nike (9%), Uber Eats (6.2%), and Shein (4.3%).

That’s it for this vs round. We hope we leave you more curious than annoyed (see what we did there?). If you have burning questions of your own and want to stay current with all things Gen Z, hit the button below to get started.

Subscribe for industry insights delivered weekly.

Get all the Knit News you need with access to our free newsletter to stay a step ahead on the latest trends driving the industries of tomorrow.

Share This

Enter your email below to access this video

Enter your email below to access this video