If you had to define the one thing that differentiates Gen Z from others, what would it be?
They’re action-minded, and take solutions seriously (and creatively). Past generations described themselves as activists and change-makers but were less likely to deliver on their promises. Gen Z have no choice – they have the tools at their disposal to reshape the institutions that make up the world. Brands are actively helping them too, creating programs that nurture their ideas, careers and identities, like Gay Times, Deutsche Telekom and Regenerative Futures. This is historical first.
Are there other characteristics that feel uniquely tied to this generation?
The key pillars of the Reformation Generation are: decentralised, decolonised, equal, intersectional, collaborative, non-hierarchical, creative, anti-establishment, post-binary, entrepreneurial, community-driven and eco-minded.
The expectations of Gen Z as consumers seems to be challenging the status quo. What role does brand purpose play in how they are marketed to?
It’s more important than ever for brands to double-down on what brand purpose means to them – really means – before marketing to Gen Z. This generation are hyper-perceptive to inauthentic marketing and want to know exactly what a brand is doing, and how, before engaging with content that preaches purpose. Tokenistic campaigns will be called out immediately – change must start in brands’ workplaces and internal operations before the marketing department even get involved. And if brands aren’t sure where to start – the answer is always: bring Gen Z in. Ask them. They’ll tell you.
What surprised you most about this particular trend report?
I was most surprised by the openness to collaboration being showcased by Gen Z. There are so many reports that believe their socialism and eco-mindedness will trump their relationships with big brands, but this just isn’t true. The Gen Zs we spoke to believed the most important action their generation can take is to work with these industries, not against them. ‘It's a combination of reformation and working with industries, until we can figure out how to change them,’ says Tarek Ziad, a recent Yale graduate who acts as our US Gen Z correspondent.
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