Gen Z: Talkin’ ‘bout my generation


On 25th November We Are Social is holding Gen Z 101 at our new London HQ, talking about what brands need to know in order to be relevant to one of the most significant audiences right now.

As Gen Z take the limelight from Millennials as marketers’ most-wanted, We Are Social’s own resident Gen Z-er Alexi Gunner debunks some of the claims made about his generation.

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With four in 10 young people complaining that brands don’t take them seriously, it’s more important than ever for marketers to approach Gen Z (born between mid-‘90s and late ‘00s) in the right way.

As a bonafide Gen Z-er, I’ve taken a look at the claims being made about me and my peers, to see what rings true, and what feels like a generation away…

Generation Z has an attention span of 8 seconds – Huffington Post
Halfway through writing this sentence I was stopped in my tracks by the urge to open an incoming email alluringly titled, “OFFICE DOG”, so this claim probably isn’t too far from the truth. Then again, it’s not that surprising when we’ve been surrounded by digital information all of our lives. In order to keep up with this, we’ve developed super-human multi-tasking powers, but as a result our attention spans have suffered. Sorry, what was the question again?

My verdict: True

Almost a quarter of teens say they scroll through their Instagram feed…hourly – Campaign/Heat and Teva
I like to reward myself for every 30-minutes of hard work with a quick flick through my Instagram feed. Not because I feel the urge to constantly keep track of the amount of smashed avocado and poached eggs my friends are consuming, but I am hungry for snackable (no pun intended) content. Visual content is easy to absorb, and the simple act of scrolling and one-tap liking makes it easy to engage with, without too much thinking.

My verdict: True

Entrepreneurialism is in their DNA – New York Times/Sparks&Honey
On a year-three school trip I once traded my whole lunchbox for half a bag of M&Ms, so I would hardly say I was a born businessman. That said, Gen Z-ers definitely see self-employment as a more realistic opportunity than their predecessors. Why endure the daily grind when you can come up with an app funded on kickstarter, then market it on Facebook, using nothing but a laptop and free coffee shop WiFi? Make mine a flat white.

My verdict: True for some, but not for others

Over half (53%) of…16 to 22 year olds would sooner lose their sense of smell than lose their laptop or cell phone – Time/McCann
I’ll wholly admit, I’m a little too dependent on my smartphone, but in my experience my generation, are more passionate about experiencing what the world has to offer* (including its wonderful smells) to give up our olfactory systems.

*Though obviously we need something to record these experiences on so we can post them on Snapchat…

My verdict: False, mostly

Generation Z are deleting their social media accounts and going offline – i-d
Although this is a somewhat sensationalist claim, I think my generation has begun to assess whether they might be happier spending a little less time and energy on sharing aspect of their lives on social media. At times, I feel exhausted keeping up with so many different channels, and have been looking to more exclusive and ephemeral platforms instead. That said, there is NO WAY we are committing mass social suicide. We’re simply striving for a more sensible on/offline balance.

My verdict: False

So have they got us right? While people belonging to Gen Z are undoubtedly bound by common behaviours, they’re also defined by individuality. With such high-demand to advertise correctly to Gen Z, marketers are making the crucial mistake of relying on generalisations.

Gen Z is all about relevance, and it’s only when brands find an authentic way to connect with us, that they will grab our eight-second attention spans.