Who Are Gen Z?
If Gen Z are to be our brand advocates, then we’d better get to know them. They’re broadly defined as the 2 billion post-millennials who’ve never known a world without the internet. As such, their physical and digital lives are more tightly integrated than any other generation, with them spending upwards of 10 hours a day online.
Their birthdates fall anywhere between 1997 and 2012, making them around 9-24 years old today. Now, you might be wondering how on earth you gain brand advocacy from a 9-year-old, but if you’ve ever given an off-brand birthday present to a young niece or nephew only for them to discard it moments later, you know where we’re coming from. This is the genesis of brand advocacy, and these are your future customers.
Parents know this all too well too, so it’s no surprise that Gen Z significantly influence family spending decisions in practically every category. This includes clothing, electronics, dining out, food shopping, and furniture. This accounts for 11% of total household spending.
Okay, you say, but what about financially independent Zoomers? Well, adolescent and young adult Gen Z members currently occupy around 10% of the global workforce with around $460 billion in disposable income. In 2030, those figures are projected to rise to 30% and $3.2 trillion, respectively.
Gen Z are already the largest generation alive, so they can’t be ignored. They represent a new consumer ideology and are laying the groundwork for the way brands will have to conduct themselves now and for years to come.
What Are Gen Z’s Values?
If Zoomers are going to be your brand advocates, you have to advocate for them. Gen Z are the most racially and ethnically diverse generation to date, and the most well-educated. Politically, they pick up where millennials left off, which is to say that they’re largely progressive and more engaged with social issues and activism than previous generations.
The share of any given generation that claims global warming is a result of human activity has been steadily climbing with each subsequent era. This has so far peaked with millennials and Gen Z, at 56% and 54% respectively. Similarly, around 66% of Gen Z believe that minority races are treated unfairly, whereas only around half of Gen X and Baby Boomers do.
The trends are plain to see as well – this isn’t just statistics, it’s palpable. You need only visit a small sample of Gen Z Instagram pages to see the entire gamut of modern social, environmental, and civil rights issues shared in their stories.
You’re likely to find Gen Z concerned about and engaged with:
- Sustainability in fashion, agriculture, fishing, food production
- Civil rights issues, both domestic and international (e.g., Palestine, Black Lives Matter)
- Environmental issues
- Living wages, social security
- Foreign policy, domestic policy
- Mental health awareness and mindful living practices
- Clean eating, whole foods, plant-based diets
- Ethical philosophies and living practices like veganism
For any brand trying to get to the root of Gen Z’s values, it’s important to note that in many cases these issues overlap. For instance, concern over sustainability in fashion is a component of the larger issue around global warming and environmentalism. The way Zoomers engage with – or don’t engage with – these issues will dictate their attitude towards your brand.
Largely due to the opportunities afforded by the internet and their mastery of it, Gen Z wield substantial influence over your brand’s reputation in digital spaces. Maybe once upon a time it was true that there was no such thing as bad press, but between brand boycotts, social movements, and cancellations of problematic public figures or entertainment, in 2021 bad press simply is bad press.
Gen Z means your brand is no longer what you say about it, but what they say about it.