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Think you know Generation Z? Think again. Much has been said about this generation, but amid the facts are plenty of myths, so we’re here to set the record straight with 7 Gen Z characteristics, according to real consumer data. 

Who are Generation Z?

If you’re in uncharted territory, and aren’t so familiar with Gen Z, let’s get you up to speed. Gen Z are the generation after millennials, and before Gen Alpha, so roughly speaking, they’re born between the mid 1990s and early 2010s. 

They’re the first generation of “digital natives”, never knowing a world without the internet. This, coupled with the fact they had a worldwide pandemic and a cost of living crisis to contend with during their formative years has had a profound impact on their personality and values, making them a very interesting audience indeed. 

Characteristics of Generation Z

  1. They’re money-driven and ambitious 
  2. They love to travel
  3. They’re prone to anxiety
  4. They’re known to set boundaries
  5. They’re avid gamers
  6. They’re nostalgic 
  7. They use social media in a unique way 

1. They’re money-driven and ambitious 

Despite being in the lower income bracket (largely due to the fact that most are just starting out in their careers), that doesn’t mean they’re nonplussed about money. Quite the opposite is true.

Gen Z are 29% more likely than other generations to say they’re money driven and ambitious.

When it comes to saving money, they’re pretty savvy. 63% of this group say they want to save more money over the next 3 months – ahead of other generations. While their intentions are good, that’s not to say they’re completely confident on the best ways to save for the future. In fact, Gen Zs stand out for wanting support from their bank on the best ways to budget and adopt better spending habits. But currently, only 55% say they get this from their bank, which could be a great win for finance brands

2. They love to travel

When asked what would bring more joy to their lives in future, vacations came out on top for Gen Z, highlighting the importance of travel (and adventure) for this generation. 

Bar millennials, Gen Z are more likely than older generations to say they’ve purchased a domestic vacation or vacation abroad in the last 6 months.

And can you blame them? While it’s been a difficult few years for all generations, Gen Z have certainly had a lot of challenges thrown their way. Major disruption to their learning and exams, and starting out their careers in a new never-been-tested hybrid way of working is likely to have taken its toll. 

When looking for inspiration for their next vacay, Gen Z are more likely than everyone else to say they’re influenced by social media posts. They also rely heavily on reviews when deciding where to stay; a third of Gen Z travelers say reviews from other people matter most to them when booking accommodation. 

3. They’re prone to anxiety

Of all generations, Gen Z are most likely to report having a mental health issue, and 3 in 10 say they’re prone to anxiety. This is higher than all other generations, and sadly, it’s on the rise. 

In fact, a shocking 29% of Gen Z say they’re prone to anxiety.

In the US alone, there’s been a 25% increase in the number of Gen Z saying they experience stress/anxiety regularly. Social media is a key contributor, with around a fifth of Gen Z saying this causes them anxiety. 

4. They’re known to set boundaries

Gen Z are rewriting the rulebook when it comes to the world of work, rejecting “hustle culture” and working overtime in favor of a more balanced approach. TikTok trends such as “the soft life”, which place emphasis on a slower, healthier and reframed version of success have really taken off amongst this generation. Some may call them lazy or work shy, but in reality, Gen Z are just really good at setting boundaries. Like really good. Having a work life balance is paramount for this generation.

72% of Gen Z are protective of their work-life boundaries.

Alongside work life balance, Gen Z also value mentorship, (they’re 37% more likely to want the ability to mentor/train others) and want the opportunity to work with clients or customers (they’re 33% more likely to say this than other generations), highlighting their appetite to share knowledge and work collaboratively.

5. They’re avid gamers

If there’s one thing this generation loves to do, it’s game. It’s a hugely popular pastime for this group, particularly gaming on smartphones.

Almost 9 in 10 Gen Z game on any device. 

What sets Gen Z apart from other generations, is their reasons for gaming. Interaction and socialization plays a far greater role for Gen Z compared to older generations, whose primary reasons for gaming is to unwind. 

This rings true for other virtual environments too. Of those interested in participating in a metaverse, almost half say they’d like to meet up with friends/family or meet new people, again highlighting their desire for social interaction.  

6. They’re nostalgic 

Gen Z are 19% more likely than other generations to say they prefer to think about the past rather than the future. Their fondness for the past is most prevalent in their music and fashion preferences, with 90s music their second-favorite genre (among Gen Zs). Meanwhile, claw clips and noughties-style low rise jeans are making a comeback. 

17% say they’d prefer to think about the past rather than the future. 

Interestingly, many of the coveted trends we see Gen Z bringing back are from before they were born, suggesting it’s less about reliving their past, and more about harking back to what they feel was a simpler time. Pass the rose-tinted glasses, please.

7. They use social media in a unique way 

So we already know social media plays a key role in their vacation inspiration, but how else does this group use it? Well, for even more inspiration, on pretty much everything. They’re 11% more likely to use social media for this reason than everyone else. 

3 in 10 Gen Z say they use social media as a place for inspiration.

Social media also serves as a search engine for this generation. Gen Z uses social to search for answers, turning to TikTok ahead of Google for info and advice on anything from beauty trends to finances. According to research by Google, nearly half of young people look to TikTok or Instagram instead of Google Maps or Search for answers. 

The bottom line 

There’s more to Gen Z than stereotypes may suggest. They’re carving their own path in a very uncertain world, juggling their desire to seek adventure wherever they can with their need for stability by saving for a rainy day.

While they may be young, they’re due to overtake millennials as the largest generation, so if brands want to stay relevant, they really ought to pay attention to today’s “it consumer”. 

Report: Generation Z in 2023 Download now

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