With busy schedules, full inboxes and perpetual work-life balance challenges, people are faced with too much to see, do and process every day. As a result, in a world with limitless information, communication and choice, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to connect with our audiences in meaningful ways.
At 2.5 billion, Generation Z overtook Millennials in 2019 to become the largest generation — and a critical audience segment — on the planet. Between 10 to 26 years old, they are humanity’s first generation born into the digital age, who pride themselves on being ‘phygital’ (physical-digital) natives. They are nuanced, connected and powerful — given their age and numbers, they will have a profound impact on the marketplace for decades to come.
They have the tools, tenacity and self-awareness to drive the change they feel is so badly needed. Plugged into culture and purpose, their playground to nurture this change is everywhere media is, from the beat of a note to the word of a social media post. Meeting them where they play, through meaningful media experiences, will unlock massive opportunities for brands to reach the largest generation on the planet today.
In its new white paper, our sister agency, Havas Media Group, shares Gen Z’s key traits as well as insights on how this extraordinary generation is influencing ad spend and — literally — shaping the future of media. Researchers and content creators at Havas have closely studied Gen Z for several years and here is a recap of what they learned. In today’s communications landscape, where the lines between media channels are not just blurred but merged, brand marketers and communicators can — and should — apply these learnings not only to the paid world but across all touch points.
THE SMARTPHONE-EMPOWERED GENERATION
Receiving their first device at secondary school age, almost all of Gen Z own a smartphone. Unsurprisingly, 79% claim they can’t live without it — but it isn’t just for entertainment on OTT streaming services or trying their hand at being creators on TikTok. Unlike Millennials, more than two out of three Gen Z seek to learn something when watching a video, nearly four out of five use their phones for educational support at schools, colleges and universities, and over a third of Gen Z transactions are on mobile. Of all generations, they research the most on their smartphones before making a purchase, and 60% use social media to seek inspiration, research products and connect with favorite brands.
THE 6 C’S OF GEN Z
Gen Z have faced constant Conflict in their short lifetime, from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to a hike in violent crimes and systemic racial injustice. Credit Crises have peppered this generation, from the early dot.com bubble and global recessions in the 2000s to the unprecedented inflationary times across developed and developing markets today. Covid-19 engulfed over two years of their short lives and stripped educational rites of passage away. The impact of Climate Change is becoming a reality with every apocalyptic headline. A sense of Collaboration has emerged in their world. And, they are the most Connected, faced with looping 24/7 news cycles.
ENGAGING THIS NUANCED GENERATION
Gen Z’s coming of age is against the backdrop of relentless technological innovation. Their No. 1 passion is music. They pioneered the normalization of gaming and gamification. They propelled the evolution of linear TV existing symbiotically with streaming. They grew up with all of today’s social media platforms. Most of all, their love-hate relationship with social is helping to fuel the desire to connect back to something more real, to pre-social media times.
They have several (11) key traits in common: They are (1) anxious, (2) authentic and (3) inclusive (4) activists and (5) connected (6) co-creators. Their (7) attention span is less than that of a goldfish. They are (8) conscious consumers, (9) money realists and (10) cravers of meaningful experience. Most of all, they are a generation of (11) self-starters and continuous learners, with 1 in 3 Gen Z interested in entrepreneurship.
A rupture from previous generations, Gen Z are tech-savvy yet displaying intrinsic nostalgia for a simple life. Politically progressive yet less than a third align to a political party. The most accommodating to religion yet at one in five they are the largest generation of atheists. Entrepreneurial yet incredibly frugal. They are not dazed or confused. They are clear-sighted, with crystal-clear aspirations for a better world.