Should Gen Z Really Be Called The Worried Generation?

Generation Z will take over 40% of the consumer marketplace in the next two years. Smart brands will start building relationships with them now. So what do you need to know?

Gen Z has had Google in their pockets from day one. That means they can find out anything that is happening in the world in a matter of seconds. They experienced things like the Great Recession, the college debt crisis, Climate Change, and Civil Unrest live through social media. This has led Gen Z to have an uneasier view of the world than previous generations.

Gen Z may be the first generation of teenagers who are not carefree. So what’s the reason for the worry? Constant access to pretty much every bad thing that ever happens, as it happens.

79% are worried about getting jobs, 72% are worried about collecting too much debt, 70% are worried about terrorism, and 70% are worried about inequality. They are not shielded the way that previous generations have been. They view the world as a rigged system, where success is based on skin color, gender, and parent’s status.

That means that these young people are not only the most digitally savvy and connected, but also the most anxiety-ridden, depressed, and lonely generation yet. Research from the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that the state of their mental health has been declining since 2012. The number of teenagers who have experienced a ‘major depressive episode’ has increased by 37% since then. On top of that, in 2015, there has been a 9% increase from the previous year in the number of counseling sessions with Gen Z on loneliness and unhappiness, which amount to over 35,000.

So it’s not really a surprise that when it comes to their own social media, Gen Z is way more cautious and discreet than Millennials (who aren’t very discreet at all), which definitely influences which platforms they use and connect through. Marketers, this is super important to pay attention to, because they are trying to fake us out!

So what can a brand do to really connect?

Be in Generation Z’s social media world.

Use the social media platforms Generation Z is already using- specifically Instagram and Snapchat. 85% of them learn about products through social media.

Gen Z loves Snapchat because they can directly send pictures or messages to their close friends that disappear after a few seconds.  Not surprising that 80% of Generation Z has an Instagram, but what is surprising is that 40% of those members have a Finstagram – a second “fake” Instagram account to post funny, embarrassing and unpolished pictures or videos they don’t want their parents or the general public to have access to. So they really control which of their social personas we see.

As for the larger social media platform, Facebook, it’s really no surprise at this point that younger generations are leaving the platform. But what is interesting is that some are never even signing up in the first place! 13% have never even signed up for an account,  compared to only 3% of Millennials.

Help solve the problems they care about

Taking a stand on the values Generation Z cares about, like the environment and inequality, has already become a differentiator for brands. Many brands have started pursuing a “B-Corp” certification. B-Corporations believe that all businesses ought to be conducted as if people and places mattered, businesses should aspire to benefit all, and understand that we are responsible for each other and future generations. There are more than 2,100 certified B-Corps, and even big brands like Danone Wave, the parent organization of Silk, Dannon and Horizon Organic, are trying to raise their profile with young people by pursuing this certification.

Are you worried about connecting and staying too connected with this generation of worriers? let’s talk.

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