This is the generation that was born into a digital world where the issues we face are on constant scroll, and the only remedy is action.
Transparent. Authentic. Vulnerable. Action-oriented. Curious.
Gen Z won’t be reached with a formula, or a platitude, and they’re soon to be the largest group of consumers. But are we seeing them as screens, hashtags and likes, or as the dynamic, deeply-invested, tough-to-please, but worth-the-effort human beings they actually are?
With our resident Gen Z-er Evan, we thought we’d round up a few of our thoughts on what this generation cares about most.
They’re not thinking about technology, they’re living in it.
Gen Z-ers are the world’s first digital natives, so choosing a social platform is like walking through a door, feeling the crowd, and choosing to stay a while or leave the conversation. Facebook is too public for them—they’re selective about how they communicate and how they learn.
Messaging apps are better than texting, and Youtube is a DIY paradise, with 71% of Gen Z-ers watching over 3 hours of videos online. It’s all about investigating their individuality and values. They understand what the other platforms are for, and will use them for professional purposes, but they also know where they feel most comfortable and free to be themselves.
They’re into culture, fluidity, agency and the unique.
You may have heard a Gen Z-er refer to someone as “they.” This is a moment of respect, openness, and sensitivity for those who don’t want to be restricted by a male/female binary. Don’t be surprised if one day they update their work signature as “she / her / hers” without asking if they can. Gen Z understands that language is powerful and that no issue should be seen as too small to be addressed. They’ve seen how diverse the world actually is, all through their screens, and they want acceptance, not resistance, for themselves and their peers.
They want to be entrepreneurs and owners of their personal brands.
76% of Gen Z-ers want to own their careers, and 74% rank “purpose ahead of a paycheck,” making them generational leaders in wanting to find meaning in their work. They believe traditional education isn’t the best way to prepare for a changing workforce, and dread the thought of debt holding them back. Skill-building and hobbies that can become cash that can then become independence is what they’re really looking for, and they’ll work weekends to make that happen. And if those hobbies can put a good footprint on sustainability or community advocacy, even better.
They care about mental health, the environment and activism.
This is the generation raised with an anxiety brought on by the Recession, school shootings, climate change and a polarizing political environment. Their sensitivity makes them hyper-aware of what’s happening all around them, in real time, and IRL. From mental health apps created by high-schoolers to Instagram influencers with empowerment messages, Gen Z is hungry for solutions to the overwhelming weight of what they face, and their first solution is to get closer to each other.
It was Gen Z-ers that made the March 15 Climate Strike happen, and it was 16-year old Greta Thunberg of Sweden who said in her Davos speech last August:
“I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.”
In other words, Gen Z isn’t waiting for anyone to catch up.
They’re asking questions, but they’re not going to stick around for your answers if you don’t have them ready to go. And they’re not afraid to fact-check you in seconds, because they can just pick up their phone, plug in some keywords and get the information they’re looking for. That’s a whole lot of activists, ready to change the world into something they’d like to see.