new gen z study reveals a generation concerned about their future

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insights thought leadership 07.14.2021

new gen z study reveals a generation concerned about their future

GenZ is a generation defined by Covid-19. They’re true digital natives, raised on and shaped by the internet. They are also deeply affected by a global health crisis, that once again reaffirmed the fact that digital connectivity is no substitute for real human connection. How will this change their behavior in a post-Covid world?

ramona daniel
audience origin research director

Choreograph’s proprietary Audience Origin Teenager study provides unique insights into 32,500 13-24 year olds across 32 markets. Conducted between December 2020 and February 2021, this study is designed to help marketers understand this powerful consumer group, covering purchasing habits and shifts in attitudes and media behaviour, as well as delivering data on over 600 global brands. In addition to 13-17 year olds, we also surveyed 18-24 year olds, giving rich insights into the whole of Generation Z.

Significant worries over the economic impact of the pandemic and their future job/career prospects have clearly led to a feeling of vulnerability and uncertainty about the future, with  LATAM countries most affected.

In our survey, more than half of 18-24 year olds reported having had their income affected by the pandemic, while 60% of 13-24 year olds said their education has suffered. As a result, the pandemic has served to further embed the financial prudence and “sensible-headedness” of this young generation. There is a real concern about the future, with 67% worried about the economy and 51% worried about future careers.

The pandemic has left many feeling isolated, lonely and disconnectedwith 74% saying they miss going out with their friends, and 52% saying they felt disconnected from themThis has led to a renewed appreciation for real human connection and touch. There is also some evidence of increased “screen fatigue,” and 58% of 13-17 year olds stated that they spend too much time online. Overall, 46% said that their mental health has been impacted, though this varies immensely by age and gender, with older GenZ and female respondents more likely to have suffered.

The role of social platforms is being expanded into video-led social content and live streaming, with TikTok driving this growth, having enjoyed a 71% increase among 13-17 year olds. Although Social Media is still the number one activity, Podcasts have seen the largest year-on-year growth among this audience. Generation Z are gravitating towards channels that provide entertainment and escapism, as well as facilitating home working/schooling.

As a generation already known for its action, activism and impact, the pandemic has served to accelerate Gen Z’s hyper-focus on social issues and making the world a better place for all. Furthermore, they have the technology at their fingertips that allows them to take matters into their own hands, to speak out, to provide support for issues and to start a movement, all at the click of a button. Teenagers are increasingly aware of a brand’s actions and prefer to buy environmentally friendly products. One of our respondents from the UK (a 15-year-old girl) commented on why she loves the beauty brand ‘The Ordinary’:

The simplicity of their products and the way they aim to be sustainable and improve how they interact with the environment.”

Generation Z is not a homogenous group and must never be treated as such. There are important nuances to consider when communicating with Gen Z. In particular, the younger group tends to be more optimistic, more likely to seek approval from others, and less cynical than the older group. On the other hand, 18-24 year olds are less likely to care what others think about them. Brands and products must reflect these differences in how they communicate with the Gen Z audiences and ensure they don’t just treat them as one monolithic group.

Across the board, we expect there to be more scrutiny of authenticity, diversity and social commitment, both in terms of how brands treat their customers/employees and their actions on the environment, sustainability and social causes. Gen Z are protagonists and they will demand the same from the brands they choose. Moreover, they are open to brand communication as long as it is for things that interest them (55% agree) but they will expect messages to be highly personalized, to talk with them, not at them, and for brands to show they are committed to driving social and environmental change for our society.

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