Feb 20, 2019 | By Sarah Housley
Jun 05, 2018
The Gen Z Equation
As a by-the-book millennial, I’m generally skeptical when it comes to classifying any generation as one way or another. Nonetheless, as a marketer, I’m able to see the value in it, and as a human, I’m able to see some truths in it. I will always have entered the workforce during the recession, I will always remember signing onto AOL for the first time, and I will always be aware of what that means in terms of my own shopping and brand preferences. In some ways, millennials are easy. Which is why when I started the research for our latest white paper, on Gen Z consumer preferences, I was somewhat surprised.
On the day of the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C., we invited ten teens to our offices in Hong Kong, London and New York. We asked them questions on everything from where they liked to go out to eat, to the next place on their travel bucket list and talked about everything from equal pay to school violence to skipping school for Supreme. Within less than an hour, it was glaringly clear this was a generation defined by the unique circumstances of their upbringing: the omnipresence of social media, the seemingly daily episodes of gun violence and the lingering effects of the great financial crisis. But they were also a deeply divided generation. On the one hand, they will line up for Kylie Jenner lip kits, on the other, they are passionately inclusive and driven by the millions to protest in Washington D.C.
So we called in the experts to help us make sense of all this. After pouring over the transcripts, interviewing dozens more teens, and locking themselves away for days, the experts at WGSN Insight – including Sarah Owen, Cassandra Napoli and Jemma Shin, proposed the “Gen Z equation.” Their thesis, quite simply, is that this generation is more complex than meets the eyes. They propose that rather than a singular entity, there are two sides to today’s youth: Gen Me and Gen We. On the one hand, Gen Me is the familiar side, but beneath the surface, growing in influence and determined to change status quo is Gen We. For more on the difference, check out this infographic we developed.
Perhaps more importantly than what divides them is what unites them. And in their latest white paper the team at WGSN Insight digs into both sides of the spectrum, calling out what brands can do to capture their attention – from new influencers to new rituals. It’s required reading for any marketer – millennial or otherwise – looking to tap into the population tsunami.
Make sure to download WGSN’s latest white paper, The Gen Z Equation, to find out more about this up-and-coming demographic.
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