Gen Z: The Next Big Things

August 10, 2017

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This is not a post about Millennials. Marketers have been up to their ears in information and data about Millennial habits and behaviors, but Gen Z is reaching adulthood, and we need to catch up.

In that spirit, we gathered a group of FH Dallas’ own Gen Zers, ranging in age from 4 to 16. We picked their brains for opinions on topics ranging from tech, to school, to family to find out just what it is that makes these anti-Millennials tick.

They’re over-caffeinated and over-stressed

Unlike Millennials, who are often criticized for being too idealistic and abstract, Gen Z has already been noted as solid, serious and pragmatic. They are already worrying about money and list “success,” “purpose” and “ambition” as values that they hold close.

Gen Z’s need for caffeine is driven by their always on, busy lifestyle, which seems to require a boost:

 Molly, 16: Oh yeah, just loading up on the espresso. I know people that take three shots in their coffee and just drink it on the go. Guys are always drinking Red Bulls at school and girls are always drinking espresso.

They’re natural researchers

Technology completely defines this generation. They have never had a phone that wasn’t smart and were not around in the world pre-Google.

This has led to an interesting Gen Z tendency in where kids research things before experiencing it IRL: despite 74% of Gen Zers spending their free time online, 98% still shop in store1. Their research extends into the entertainment space, as growing up with the internet has taught them that whatever their minds can dream, the internet has (likely) already achieved:

Chloe, 9: If you want to watch a dancing potato you can search for dancing potatoes!

Annalisa: It can be like, top 35 people with superpowers, or something like “five superheroes caught on tape.”

Sydney, 8: Or ghosts.

They’ve hacked their way into mastering multiple screens

We learned a lot about Gen Z’s reliance on their devices, and were surprised to hear that they’re not quite as obsessed with them as everyone seems to think they are. Don’t get them wrong – having a dead battery is as close to actual death as a teen could imagine, but intentional tech detoxes are a part of the Gen Z lifestyle.

When they’re not giving their phones and tablets a restful reprieve, they’re figuring out the best hacks for optimal battery life and connectedness:

Chloe, 9: Close the pages when you’re done with them.

Sydney, 8: If you put it into airplane mode and let it charge, it charges faster.

Annalisa, 10: Normally one device will be on 50%, but I have two devices, so one will be on 50%, and I’ll let it charge and go to the other device. So then it’s already at 100% before the other one is at 50%, so I just switch out of the two.

They’re the most multicultural of any generation in the U.S.

Gen Zers embrace diversity, individuality and equality more than previous generations. If Millennials’ approach to race and identity was “color blind” — working toward equality by trying not to see race — Gen Z’s approach could be described as “color aware.” Gen Z actively embraces the different experiences of their racially and ethnically diverse peers, and pursues unique individuals to add to and enhance their friend groups. However, bots need not apply:

Annalisa, 10: One thing that’s annoying is that there are these accounts that follow you and look like they’re on Musical.ly, and they have a picture and everything, and then you click on it and it takes you to some website to buy followers. My friend tried it once and it doesn’t eve work, they just want your money. They follow you a lot. There’s like, thousands of them.

They’re legit woke

Gen Z feels empowered to have a voice. Previous generations may have talked about hot-button issues as children, but not in public forums or among friend groups, like we are seeing today. Gen Z’s change-maker mindset and social media savvy compels this generation to shed light on issues and champion for change.

 Amara, 7: In my school we talk about politics during lunch. And then everybody gets mad and crushes their cheese puffs.

Molly, 16: Yeah, sometimes it gets a little aggressive… a lot of [kids at school] have actually been watching the debates themselves and reading up on everything, so they have their totally own opinion that they’ve created by themselves… it’s interesting to see how many different opinions there are.

As we learn more and more about Gen Z, it is important for brands to acknowledge them as the extremely unique generation that they are. While some of them may share a lifestage with today’s youngest Millennials, the values and beliefs they hold closest can be vastly different, and they are keenly aware of what a powerful group they make up.

1Data source: IBM