Think you know Gen Z? Think again.
A new cultural insights report by research group Box1824 sheds light on the unique characteristics and values of Gen Z-ers (AKA people born 1995-2014) that set them apart from previous generations. Its findings provide important takeaways for brands looking to craft post-millennial marketing strategies.
The report’s big finding: Society at-large, and especially marketers and members of the media, have a lot of misguided perceptions with respect to this group’s identity and the way they live out their lives. Contrary to acting like “millennials on steroids,” which is a commonly-held assumption, Gen Z-ers should be treated as their own distinct cohort. Box1824 theorizes that this bias has been fueled by a “hypervisible demographic of micro-celebrities and digital influencers.”
In the report, the researchers redefine Gen Z as “GenExit,” since this generation’s underlying mindset is that there’s always an exit door. One of the most surprising findings was that members of this group are turned off by the pressures to sell themselves (and their personal brands) via social media. Rather than being attracted to a world that’s consumed by views, likes, shares, comments, and subscribers, Gen Z or GenExit prefer to create more “fluid identities.”
Along these lines, they opt for much more personal digital personalities with engagement centered around themes of “imagination, creativity, and intimate connections” as opposed to commercialism and power. The report also finds that the platform of choice for GenExit, the one that most closely aligns with their values, is Snapchat, as it’s considered to be the most intimate and ephemeral.
“In the same way that Millennials transformed cable into prestige TV, GenExit will remake social media in their own image,” predicts Box1824. How? By being relatable, and pragmatic.
Two additional characteristics of GenExit to note include their skepticism and tepid feelings on commitment. This not only applies to their hobbies and behavior when engaging in social media but to their political and religious views and their approach to careers and education as well.
A growing number of Gen Z-ers are cutting ties with such establishments in favor of third-party affiliations—something the report calls a “crisis of institutions.” This is an especially important attribute for marketers at large, heritage brands to note. Post-millennial consumers are natural skeptics and will require new avenues for building trust. This finding also seems to open up new opportunities for challenger brands to make a mark within established industries, a trend we’ve already seen take hold with millennial consumers.
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