The world’s youth, collectively dubbed generation Z, are frustrated and uncertain about the future, yet convinced they are capable of uniting to bring about change, according to a new study by Wunderman Thompson Intelligence.
And even though the pandemic has stirred up every aspect of their lives, gen Zers remain unshaken in their core values, attitudes, and the way they think about consumption.
Gen Z and a better normal
The report, titled “Generation Z: Building a Better Normal”, features five clear sections that cover young people’s views on careers, identity, community, activism and brands.
It draws on research carried out in October 2020 among 1,000 Americans aged 16-24, as well as global insights into the same age group from throughout the year and 13 bespoke interviews with gen Zers from around the world.
Designed to unpack what this generation stands for and who they are, the research explores the impact of the pandemic, and outlines the opportunities for businesses.
Above all, it paints a picture of people who feel under pressure, anxious, and generally fed up. Despite this, three-quarters of respondents say they believe their generation is going to change the world.
Highlights from the report:
- 83% of young people feel that their generation is under a lot of pressure
- 75% believe that their generation will change the world
- 85% believe brands should be about something more than profit
- 79% want their money to go to a brand they believe in
- 77% don’t want to be put in a box
- 75% think that people should be able to use any identity label they feel comfortable with
- 90% feel it’s important that they start saving for their future now
- 77% make sure they save some money every time they earn or receive it
- 83% have a newfound appreciation for in-person interactions as a result of the pandemic
How Gen Z views big global brands
As consumers, this group is keenly aware of the power held by corporations and firm in their belief that making a profit is no longer purpose enough.
Instead, they want brands to improve people’s lives in general and, more specifically, to help build a better “normal” in the wake of COVID-19.
And they’re willing to put their money where their mouths are, with eight out of 10 saying they want to spend on brands they believe in.
As humans, generation Z are rewriting identity narratives. Their rule of thumb is: DO respect our right to choose identity labels we’re comfortable with; DON’T put us in boxes.
Also, don’t be fooled by the gen Zer whose face always seems illuminated by a screen: experiences of lockdown have given most young people a newfound appreciation of relating to others in real life.
While their millennial predecessors might have a (misguided) reputation for profligate spending, gen Z are dedicated to saving and convinced that there’s more to life than earning large sums of money, Wunderman Thompson’s research reveals.
COVID-19 has changed the spending habits of 70% of those surveyed.
“Changemakers, activists, leaders of tomorrow—call them what you want, generation Z are poised to do great things”, Emma Chiu, Global Director of Wunderman Thompson Intelligence, said.
“In fact, they’re already leading the charge with battling climate change and challenging brands’ roles.
“Self-belief, pragmatism and optimism motivate this generation to work toward a better tomorrow, and they’re aware they cannot achieve this alone.
“Gen Zers are turning to companies and influential figures to help shape positive change—demanding ethics, transparency, and a new set of values.”