Understanding Gen-Z

The informed realists

Gen Z, Centennial, “Millennial on steroids”—my generation has been called a lot of names.

We can’t summarise an entire generation’s values, experiences, and opinions. However, it is clear that myself, a nineteen-year-old in 2018, exists in a very different world than the one a nineteen-year-old in 2008 grew up in.

Gen Z has been shaped by the time we were born into; we don’t remember a world without the internet and mobile phones, learning how to use a computer was as important and necessary as learning how to read and write. We’re the true digital natives.

For Gen Z, though, the world has always been in constant crisis. Childhood and teenage years filled with political upheaval, climate change, terrorism, and economic disorder have made us an incredibly informed and empathetic generation. We’re constantly forced to evaluate our futures and how we fit into this complicated world.

The Ultimate Brand Curators

Social media plays a huge role in how we curate our personal and professional brands in the midst of this. We’ve seen the mistakes that Millennials made, uploading their entire lives to the internet, then being fired by bosses for calling in sick whilst their Facebook documented a drunken night out on the town.

We also consume media constantly and value information and connection, evident by our high consumption and use of YouTube, Google, and Netflix. The “8-second attention span” statement is thrown around a lot when talking about Gen Z. I find this frustrating. It’s not so much a lack of focus, but a selective filter.

One look at a brand's crappy Instagram feed with some try-hard #omg captions and we’re not interested. You say you’re about female empowerment, but your clothes aren’t ethically made? You’ve lost me.

We download ad-blockers. We’re wary of being sold to. So, when we do engage with a brand, we expect a lot. We want that brand to meet our values. We want the products we buy and the services we use to be tied to our identity. We want to be able to support every aspect of what we’re buying into.

We want a company to LIVE its mission.

In Part II, I’ll explore how to get through to the discerning Gen Zs through social forms of brand engagement.