Generation Z is unlike any other generation before it. According to the United Nations, people under 25 now constitute over 40% of the world’s population, making this group too big to ignore.1 By focusing on today’s trendsetters and tomorrow’s shoppers, marketers have an opportunity to understand what makes Gen Z tick and how they can connect with these digital natives.
Gen Z may be the generation most transformed by the pandemic. COVID-19 has disrupted their educational journeys, career opportunities and so much more. Yet I believe they are coming out stronger, more energized and ready to stand for their values. To identify key shifts in behavior across Gen Z, Facebook IQ analyzed internal and third party data as well as commissioned surveys. Here are the insights that stand out and what they mean for marketers that want to resonate with this generation:
Activism takes everyone.
Among Gen Zers surveyed by Morning Consult in the U.S., over half believe they can change the world for the better.2 According to research from Ypulse, some of the causes they are most passionate about include human rights, racial equality and climate change.3 Having grown up with access to so much information online, many Gen Zers are motivated to transform what they learn into meaningful action. They utilize social media as a platform to champion causes and inspire movements.
Importantly, Gen Z does not expect to change the world alone. From greater diversity in advertising to a commitment to sustainability and much more, they are looking to brands to play their part in effecting change.
Community is a feeling.
While they embrace their individuality, Gen Zers believe that they are better together, leaning into communities on social media to connect with others. Communities can be formed around an array of things such as neighborhoods, hobbies and support groups, providing a place of acceptance and belonging. According to a study commissioned by Facebook IQ, 30% of Gen Zers believe that a commitment to community can help brands communicate more effectively on Instagram and spark meaningful connections.4
Commerce reflects values.
For Gen Z, shopping is an expression of their values. A Facebook IQ study revealed that the majority5 of Gen Zers want to hear what brands are doing to better the world before making a purchase. Research also shows that Gen Zers want to buy from a brand they can be proud of, even if it means paying a premium.6 To resonate with Gen Z, brands can surface their values and demonstrate how they serve the community.
Resilience requires adaptability.
In between making the world a better place, Gen Zers are focused on their mental and physical self-care journeys. Despite the challenges they face, Gen Z can tap into a deep well of acceptance, authenticity and adaptability to stay fueled. From the cerebral to the crafty, the physical to the playful, Gen Zers enjoy a range of activities. Research from GlobalWebIndex finds that they are also more likely than other generations to say that they will continue many of the activities they have adopted during the pandemic.7
Let’s take a look at what marketers can do with these insights:
1. Take a stand.
As Gen Z looks for ways to make a difference, they gravitate toward brands that create opportunities where they can channel their activism. Authenticity resonates powerfully with Gen Z, so the causes brands support should align with their brand message. If these values aren’t genuine, they can come off as hollow.
Bombas, for instance, donates a pair of socks with each purchase. After learning that 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQIA+, for Pride Month 2019 Bombas partnered with The Ally Coalition, an organization focused on making a positive impact on the lives of LGBTQIA+ homeless youth, and directed 40% of sock donations to the organization.
2. Be ethical.
As brands champion causes, they need to ensure that their internal practices reflect these values. For example, if a brand supports the Black Lives Matter movement, it should also support diversity from within. According to a study commissioned by Facebook IQ, more than half of Gen Zers expect brands to make their stances on social and political issues known publicly.8
Reflect Gen Z’s collaborative worldview by unleashing the power of partnerships. The Constellation Agency launched the Do Good Auto Coalition, a nonprofit that partnered with dealerships, auto makers and charitable organizations to offer support during the pandemic. Through the DGAC website, volunteers could provide supplies and assistance to shelters, essential workers, communities of color and more.
3. Engage consistently.
Gen Z wants to be part of the larger conversation. By creating a space for engagement, brands can understand what matters most to them. Using interactive formats such as Facebook Stories and Facebook Groups, brands can create a safe, understanding and helpful environment that Gen Zers want to join.
The meditation app Headspace uses Instagram to connect with its community to answer questions, listen to feedback and share meditation tips. When the pandemic emerged, Headspace produced a series of posts and Instagram Live videos offering opportunities for the community to authentically share their feelings about COVID-19.
With Gen Z’s strong sense of identity and community, there’s never been a better time for marketers to connect with them. I can’t wait to see the communities brands can form with Gen Zers and where this values-driven generation will lead us next.
To learn more about the rise of Gen Z and other trends shaping the future, visit Facebook IQ.
This is the second article in a four-part series where Facebook experts dive into the global macro-shifts shaping the future. In our next article, we will look at how COVID-19 has accelerated the practice of mindful wellness.
1 Facebook IQ source: “2019 Revision of World Population Prospects,” United Nations, June 2019.
2 Facebook IQ source: “How 2020 Is Impacting Gen Z’s Worldview,”Morning Consult, survey of 1,000 people ages 13 to 23 in the U.S., June 12-15, 2020.
3Facebook IQ source: Ypulse, U.S. only, January 2020. Gen Z defined as people ages 13 to 18.
4Facebook IQ source: “Meet the Future,” YouGov, Facebook-commissioned online survey of 9,038 people ages 18 to 25 in DE, DK, FR, GB, NO, SE who use Facebook or Instagram, August 2020.
5Facebook IQ source: “Coronavirus Multi-Market Study,” GlobalWebIndex, survey across AU, BE, BR, CN, DE, ES, FR, GB, IN, IT, JP, NZ, PH, PL, RO, SG, US, ZA, June 29-July 2, 2020. Gen Z defined as people ages 16 to 24.
6Facebook IQ source: “Micro-Shifts Monthly Tracker,” Kantar Profiles, Facebook-commissioned online survey of gen. pop. respondents ages 18-plus, May 2020. Gen Z defined as people ages 18 to 24.
7 Facebook IQ source: “Coronavirus Research,” GlobalWebIndex, online survey of 15,271 people ages 16 to 64 in AU, BE, BR, CN, FR, DE, ES, GB, IN, IT, JP, NZ, PH, PL, RO, SG, US, ZA, June 29-July 2, 2020.
8Facebook IQ source: “Meet the Future,” YouGov, Facebook-commissioned online survey of 9,038 people ages 18 to 25 in DE, DK, FR, GB, NO, SE who use Facebook or Instagram, August 2020.