In the midst shifting attitudes, one remains constant: the rising generation can be downright confusing. To further understand the world’s youngest consumers, we’re providing you with a list of ten surprising truths about Gen Z. Consider this to be your cheat sheet for avoiding broad stereotypes. Though not all assumptions about young people are wrong, many of them deserve a closer look.
1. Despite all the social opportunities available through online platforms, Gen Z has been called the loneliest generation yet. Data indicates that this is due to a societal decline in face-to-face interactions. With smaller families, less church attendance, and little neighborhood socialization, it’s hypothesized that today’s young people have fewer opportunities for meaningful, in-person relationships than their parents and grandparents had.
2. Gen Zers expect to work for their success. . . not happen upon it. Many of them emphasize personal success as the most important thing in life, but they don’t expect success to be handed to them. This view pivots away from that of their millennial counterparts; Gen Zers tend to be pragmatic in their optimism, relying on individual motivation and hard work to reach their ideals.
3. Screen-to-screen communications have not been prioritized over ‘in real life’ interactions for Gen Z. 53% of them prefer face-to-face communications over video and messaging platforms. Though their place is secured as digital natives, they haven’t lost touch with the value of in-person connection.
4. The marvels of modern medicine have not alleviated the worries young people have surrounding health. 45% of Gen Z consumers feel highly stressed about their health or the health of their family members. Increased awareness surrounding mental health and increased education regarding obesity may be contributors to this stress.
5. Despite everything you might have heard, Facebook is far from dead. 57% of Gen Z claim that Facebook still has a place in their generation’s social media world. Though they may not be updating their statuses every day or using the cite as their main mode of communication, it continues to serve a purpose for them.
6. Young travelers aren’t that pumped to party; in fact, partying is sixth on their list of things to do when they go on vacation. Even Gen Z college students are opting for culinary experiences and sightseeing adventures over stereotypical spring break events.
7. Gen Zers may be reliant on their smartphones and bad at knowing when to put them down in social situations, but this does not affect their work. According to a national study, Gen Z is 50% less likely than older generations to say that it is appropriate use their phone during work hours.
8. Technology has often been blamed for creating a culture of instant gratification, yet a recent study showed that kids today are more patient than they were fifty years ago. This has been demonstrated using the “marshmallow experiment” in which young children are placed in a room with two plates, one holding a single treat and the other holding two. The child is then told that she or he can ring a bell at any time and eat the single treat or wait for the adult to come back in the room and eat both treats. This experiment has now been performed in the 1960s, 1980s, and 2000s, with the children in each proceeding iteration showing better impulse control than had been shown before.
9. Kids’ taste buds are not the only driving force behind their food-related purchases. In fact, it’s been found that 67% of Gen Z read the ingredient labels on food products. They’re particularly interested in whether the animals were treated ethically and if the product has a “natural” label. This trend demonstrates the desire many Gen Zers have to support good causes and a more sustainable world.
10. Though they’re not exceptionally concerned about every aspect of online privacy, Gen Z is more concerned than any other generation when it comes to online privacy when using dating websites or mobile apps. Recent research suggests that they may be less likely than millennials to hand over their personal information.
As Gen Z gets older, the rest of us will get a more accurate picture of who they are and what role they play in society. Until then, it’s up to us to evaluate our perceptions, challenge our assumptions, and act on the best information we have when marketing to our youngest consumers.