Now that the Millennials are all grown up, it is time for businesses to focus on the next batch of consumers: Generation Z. Generation Z, or Gen Z for short, is the group born between the mid-’90s and the 2000s. They are the first generation that grew up with the internet and are more comfortable navigating a digital landscape over the real world. They spend their time watching videos on YouTube and TikTok, have multiple social media accounts, and are very vocal about the things that they care about.
Like the generation before them, Gen Z is more aware of the social issues, even if they are not directly affected by it. And they expect businesses to support the causes that are important to them, too.
That is why you see every brand throw their support behind social movements.
Gen Z wants to spend their money, knowing that they do not support evil business owners who only want to get rich. They celebrate brands whose values align with theirs.
Gen Z on Health
Whereas Millennials were quick to express their love for pizza, Gen Z tends to go for the healthy options. They are more likely to buy water online rather than drink a can of Coca-Cola and Pepsi. They want their food to be organic and natural with zero preservatives or no added sugars.
Members of Gen Z are more likely to become vegetarian or vegan, too! With all the plant-based food choices available to them, it is easier for young people to remove meat and dairy from their diets.
Moreover, they are well aware of how the production of meats that goes into burgers and nuggets causes serious harm to the environment. Beef, in particular, takes up valuable resources and emit massive amounts of greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere, causing climate change.
As a response, Gen Z chooses to restrict their diets to solely plant-based, both for their health and for the environment.
Gen Z on the Environment
Gen Z will experience the brunt of the negative effects of climate change. Within their lifetime, they will see the North and South Pole lose ice and cause sea levels to rise, bringing recurring and permanent flooding in many major cities worldwide. They will also experience more extreme natural disasters that may make some places uninhabitable. The future seems bleak.
They are, therefore, ready to fight for the planet. They are demanding that the generations before them, who have caused the destruction of the environment and continue to hold important government positions, do something to reverse the damage of climate change by creating policies that will drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developed nations.
You have seen them march on the streets as part of the School Strike for Climate, also known as Fridays for Future or Youth for Climate.
Their favorite brands are also sustainable and ethical. The popular brands among this generation are not Forever 21 nor H&M — fast fashion brands linked with slave labor and environmental damage, especially in developing countries in Asia. Instead, they like Everlane, a brand known for its ethical and sustainable practices, and ThredUp, a secondhand online store.
Gen Z understands that there is a price to pay for products that are ethical and sustainable. They are willing to pay more if it meant getting products made using natural fibers and were made by people who were compensated fairly.
Gen Z on Diversity
Gen Z is more ethnically and racially diverse than their predecessors. Although members of this generation are a little less likely to be born outside of the United States compared to Millennials, they are more likely to be children of immigrants. About 22% of Gen Zers have at least one immigrant parent versus 14% of Millennials.
Diversity is not just important to them; it is crucial for their success and survival. A company that does not employ a single person of color sends a bad message to young consumers. Their friends are also unlikely to purchase from homogeneously white brands even if they are born in a white household, too.
The best way to catch their attention is to include people from all backgrounds in advertisements. They do not want to see traditional unattainable beauty that populated old magazines and television commercials. They seek people who look like them and their peers.
Gen Z is very different from Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers. The strategies that work with the generations before them do not apply to them. If businesses want to appeal to young people, they have no choice but to become socially conscious.