View all Blog

Understanding Gen Z

Jun 23, 2022 By Andrea Bell

Making up almost 30% of the world’s population, Gen Z (born roughly between 1996 and 2012) are top of mind for many brands. This environmentally and socially conscious generation is driven by values, and they are leading calls for companies to take action on the climate crisis. They’re also demanding greater diversity and inclusivity, as well as  focusing on themselves, their health and their careers, seeking a sense of purpose and looking to build a better future.

 In this blog, we explore some of the key trends and macro drivers impacting Gen Z.

Savvy frugality

Even prior to the pandemic, Gen Zers had marked themselves as a frugal generation.

Gen Z’s approach to personal finance has been influenced by the misfortune of their older Millennial siblings. While not all Gen Zers have caught the budgeting bug yet (understandable considering the youngest are just nine years old), they are wary of debt and interested in managing their money, with a survey of US Gen Z from NerdWallet finding that 68% had used some sort of budgeting tool in 2020. This cohort is embracing a positive approach to frugality, encompassing both the shift towards conscious consumerism and the rising importance of value for money.

Gen Z is set to become the most self-educated generation yet, thanks to a mix of online learning tools and a drive to follow their own path. TikTok videos tagged #Moneytok currently have 13.1bn views, as Gen Z users look to improve their financial literacy. While there is a lot of misinformation on the platform, including people boasting about money they’ve made from cryptocurrencies and day trading, there are also authentic voices offering valuable advice, and helping Gen Z start to fill in financial knowledge gaps. While 10- to 15-second TikTok videos might not offer a lot of nuance, they do offer an accessible entry point for young people who are looking to learn, though some are also turning to YouTube for longer-form content.

Creative activism

Today's youth feel more compelled than ever to take a stand for the beliefs and values they care deeply about, and they are using the digital tools they’ve grown up with in new, creative ways to advocate for change.

Young people are often accused of being 'slacktivists' (performative activists) online, but Gen Z's expansive knowledge of social justice and sustainability is building a new version of activism through education.

The aesthetics of activism really emerged in 2020, when political infographics took over Instagram, turning the platform into a powerful educational tool on a range of topics, including the Black Lives Matter movement, Hong Kong protests, sustainability and local activism. In 2022, social media platforms such as TikTok are powering global movements to enact real change. In fact, according to Reach3 Insights, 77% of Gen Z use TikTok to learn about social justice and politics, and 54% said they had engaged in discussions with family and friends after seeing something on TikTok. 

Sustainable futures

Gen Z is more concerned about the climate crisis than their older counterparts, making them the most eco-conscious generation.

Over the past two years, global challenges have radically transformed our lives. The pandemic has shaken our social, economic and political systems to their core, and natural disasters and extreme weather events have reminded everyone that the climate crisis is unfolding in the here and now. 

Gen Z is leading the charge when it comes to action on climate change, from protest movements to consumption changes. Brands should be proactive and go above and beyond expectations, as this generation feels repeatedly ignored and let down by governments and corporations, leaving a sense of hopelessness in the face of challenges posed by the climate crisis. It’s not just about how they shop; this is also about giving Gen Zers the tools they need to find solutions and feel more in control of their future. Offer optimism by assisting these eco-anxious consumers with small, personal actions that contribute to the cause, and also lend your voice to lobbying efforts for greater change at the top. Back these actions via measurable and transparent initiatives that are committed to improving the impact of your company and contributing to systemic change.

What steps should your brand take to engage with the consumers of tomorrow? Free to download, our Future Consumer 2024 white paper underlines the actions needed right now to ensure your brand creates the products that Gen Z consumers will prioritise.

Share article: