Stepping Up for Gen Z

Is your brand ready to empower Gen Z to re-enter and change the world?

The author(s)
  • Andrea Greaves Qualitative Specialist, Ipsos UU
  • Ella Farrell Intern, U.S. Qualitative
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As the school year begins, Gen Z faces especially tough circumstances in the continuing pandemic. This translates into a unique opportunity for brands to connect with and support Gen Z during this latest COVID limbo. Here’s how:

  • Learn what’s important to them and stand for something, authentically. Many issues are important to Gen Z, from sustainability to fair treat­ment, diversity, equity, and inclusion, mental health, COVID-19, and more. But while Gen Zers want brands to take a stand, they quickly sense shallow efforts.
  • Reflect their world in brand communications. Gen Zers expect to see a global view including diversity, intersectionality and individuality.
  • Meet their re-entry needs. Emerging from pandemic isolation, Gen Zers have a strong need to rebuild connections, as well as address their mental and physical health needs. Consider how your brand can help with or be sensitive to these concerns. While it’s tempting for brands to “skip” COVID-19, it’s not a genuine way to connect with Gen Zers who were tremendously impacted.

Download our latest paper with detailed research insights, or revisit our on demand webinar to hear from our panel of Gen Z college students.


KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Gen Z is passionate about changing the world for the better.
  • The pandemic hit Gen Z harder because of their stage of development.
  • Even with Delta creating new uncertainty, brands can help Gen Z achieve their goals.

Generation Z—roughly tweens to age 25 today— is unlike any other generation before them. Even before the pandemic, Gen Z’s unique characteristics were becoming clear—they have grown up with technology and use it to connect with others in novel ways. They are global, diverse and passionate about inclusivity. They are allies and support people not for show, but to bring value to everyone’s identity. They have a desire to do the right thing, and unlike other generations, they are not tired of trying.

black americans

Gen Z and brands

Gen Z looks for brands that are supporting the issues that are most pressing, including sustainability and fair pay. Gen Z wants to spend their money  and support brands that treat their customers and employees with respect. They pay attention to brand causes and if their mission statements align with their personal beliefs. With so much information available, Gen Z sees the B.S. and doesn’t entertain it.

gen z millenials

However, unlike other generations, Gen Z faces extraordinary circumstances during the pandemic, and companies must respond differently to this generation. The way that Gen Z has responded to COVID has lessons for everyone trying to under-stand them and their future—including brands that are trying to reach them.

The COVID generation

Every generation goes through monumental events that change the way they develop and interact  with each other. While all generations have been impacted by the pandemic in different ways, the effect on Gen Z is disproportionate because they are in a crucial stage of development.

Gen Z was knocked off course by the pandemic. Schools shut down, unemployment hit those who were working, and they were isolated at a develop-mental stage where their focus was shifting from home to peer relationships and independence. Uncertainty reigned; mental health diagnoses soared.

mental health

Even before the pandemic, Gen Z believed there was a lot to fix: climate change, racial injustice, inequality, and so much more. The burden was heavy on Gen Z, many of whom still wanted to make change as the world was shutting down around them.

Gen Z was forced into online classrooms and out of extracurriculars to make sure they stayed safe. They were drawn to what they know best— screens. Online games and viral videos gave them more ways to connect. While it provided needed connection, the retreat into screens may mean that in-person skills, like reading facial expressions  and body language, have atrophied. Yet they are still hopeful as they look forward to live concerts, sitting in libraries and laughing together again.

What are the implications for brands?

Brands have a unique opportunity to connect with  and support Gen Z during this latest COVID limbo. Here’s how.

  1. Consider what’s important to them and stand for something, authentically. Many issues are important to Gen Z, from sustainability to fair treat-ment, diversity, equity, and inclusion, mental health, COVID-19, and more. But while Gen Zers want brands to take a stand, they quickly sense shallow efforts.
  2. Reflect their world in brand communications. Gen Zers expect to see a global view including diversity, intersectionality and individuality.
  3. Meet their re-entry needs. Emerging from pandemic isolation, Gen Zers have a strong need to rebuild connections, as well as address their mental and physical health needs. Consider how your brand can help with or be sensitive to these concerns. While it’s tempting for brands to “skip” COVID-19, it’s not a genuine way to connect with Gen Zers who were tremendously impacted.

 

The author(s)
  • Andrea Greaves Qualitative Specialist, Ipsos UU
  • Ella Farrell Intern, U.S. Qualitative

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