A DRAMATICALLY DIFFERENT BREED OF CONSUMER IS ON THE HORIZON. UNENCUMBERED BY THE DRAG ANCHOR OF THE PAST, AND EMPOWERED BY RAPIDLY ADVANCING TECHNOLOGY, THEY WILL FORGE A RADICALLY ALTERED NEW WORLD.
By Mariel Brown,
The Gen Z Project is a qualitative study into an extraordinary new generation (those born after 1995). We’ve spent time with influential members of Gen Z leading progressive lifestyles to illuminate the cultural shifts that they are creating, as the attitudes and behaviours they are forming today will influence the future consumer landscapes of tomorrow.
This microsite contains a snap shot of our findings.
Meet the participants
What we learned
“I JUST HOPE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO THINK THIS WAS THE GENERATION OF ENTREPRENEURS.”
Henry, 10 years old
Entrepreneur & Author, Not Before Tea
For Gen Z, global financial instability is a mundane day-to-day reality and they have little expectation of opportunities being provided by others. Instead, they are highly proactive and entrepreneurial, using the proliferation of affordable online platforms to make their own opportunities.
SHIFTING GENDER NORMS
Raised increasingly in households where both parents take an active day-to-day role in child care, Gen Z are being released from the gender stereotypes of the past. Instead they are choosing to define themselves through their passions.
Gen Z are coming of age in an era of rapidly advancing technology. Having little memory of a world without high-speed connectivity and gestural interfaces, Gen Z are true digital natives. Maturing as The Internet of Things expands, they will expect the real and virtual worlds to work together in a seamless way.
“THERE'S NO REAL CHALLENGE IN DAY-TO-DAY LIFE NOW I FIND. INTELLECTUALLY, SURE, LIKE AT SCHOOL AND STUFF, I LIKE LEARNING AND EVERYTHING. BUT PHYSICALLY WE DON'T REALLY EXERT OURSELVES ANY MORE THAT MUCH AND ESPECIALLY WITH ALL THE TECHNOLOGY.”
Lewis, 16 years old,
Guiness World Record Holder
While Gen Z are highly appreciative of the global connectivity afforded to them since birth, they are now starting to recognise its downside. They feel they have less to discover than those who have gone before them. This adventure deficit is pushing them to take on extreme challenges from an early age; whether that be by setting global records, or developing innovative new technologies. This points towards a future where flourishing brands will be those that can quench the consumer thirst for adventure.
Widespread connectivity has exposed Gen Z to a broad range of global issues from an early age and is cultivating a highly empathetic generation. Citizen reportage that intimately portrays the human tragedies of environmental instability is fuelling the desire to make a positive change to the world around them.
“SAY ONE DAY THE INTERNET CRASHED, WHAT WOULD I HAVE TO SHOW FOR IT, ALL THE WORK THAT I HAD DONE WOULDN'T BE THERE. SO I LIKE TO WORK IN THE REAL WORLD AS WELL.”
Ellie, 16 years old,
Fashion & DIY Blogger,
HOLD ON TO THE PHYSICAL
While all things digital are deeply entwined with Gen Z behaviour, they are surprisingly sceptical about purely digital experiences and are not yet willing to completely let go of the physical world. This indicates that real-world experiences will continue to be sought out and enjoyed for the foreseeable future.
Small and more affordable sensors are granting Gen Z an unprecedented insight into the internal workings of their body. As this technology matures and connects to The Internet of Things, healthcare will become increasingly democratised and consumers will take greater individual control over their health and well-being.
“IT IS SCARY THAT EVERYTHING YOU DO ONLINE IS ALWAYS GOING TO BE THERE. I GUESS IT IS COOL TO HAVE A DIGITAL FOOTPRINT BUT IT CAN BE DANGEROUS AT THE SAME TIME.”
Simran, 17 years old, Crew Culture Athlete,
Run Dem Crew Youngers
Hype surrounding data privacy is proving to be a formative influence on Gen Z. Learning from infamous Millennial mistakes and being constantly surrounded by a barrage of controversial news stories, such as the Edward Snowden NSA revelations, is creating a highly wary consumer group. Expect Gen Z to be even more cautious over how their data is stored and used than any previous generation.
The affordability of digital imaging, and the swell of online platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat, are conditioning Gen Z to communicate in a highly visual way. This behaviour suggests a future where topline, intuitive information-sharing is the expected norm.
“IT'S A BIT OF A PERSONAL INVASION SOMETIMES... THERE'S NOT ONE PLACE ON THE INTERNET THAT YOU CAN GO WHERE SOMEBODY ISN'T TRYING TO SELL YOU SOMETHING OR TRYING TO GET YOU TO DO SOMETHING OR SIGN UP TO SOMETHING.”
Rose, 17 years old,
Fashion & DIY Vlogger,
MARKETING WITH ETIQUETTE
One of the first rules of marketing is to travel to where your consumer is. However, emerging technology has meant that brands can now reach their target audience 24 hours a day, resulting in Gen Z feeling bombarded by brand messaging. In tomorrow consumer landscape, care will need to be taken to observe social etiquette, to ensure that messages are targeted and relevant rather than a personal invasion.
Both the affordability of coding equipment and the accessibility of coding tuition is creating a highly tech-literate generation, who no longer view their products as close-ended solutions. Instead, Gen Z are delving under the surface of their products and customising them to suit their personal needs and requirements.
“I THINK OUR GENERATION WILL BE DEFINED BY TECHNOLOGY... I WANT OUR GENERATION TO BE REMEMBERED AS IF ALMOST WE DISCOVERED A POWER WHICH IS TECHNOLOGY BUT WE USED IT WELL.”
Eligh, 16 years old,
Gamer & Developer
SUPER POWER TECH
Gen Z are highly self-aware and recognise that they will be defined by technology. Citing it as a super power to which they are privy, they wish to be remembered for using it well. They are beginning to look down on technology put to frivolous use as a wasted opportunity.
The Gen Z Project was initiated by The Observatory, the vantage from which Seymourpowell view and explore the future. In order to move “faster than the speed of culture” we regularly connect globally with progressive users (the first people to embrace new ideas into their everyday lifestyles). We spend time with these early adopters in their own context gaining a view of the world from their own perspective. The value of this approach lies in its ability to inspire new product categories, brand experiences and marketing opportunities.
To learn more about progressive user research and our other telescopes to the future please contact Seymourpowell.
Associate Director & Head of Trends