4 characteristics of Generation Z you need to know for better communication strategies


Third day at #ESOMAR Summer Camp I attended the workshop Understanding the NextGens (Generation Y & Z) to create future proof branding and communication strategies. It was an excellent workshop and this blog post reflects key learnings about Generation Z aka GenZ.

To be able to target GenZ in a creative way we need to understand their general drivers, trends that surrounds GenZ as well as the mindset of the generation. By having these 4 characteristics in mind when planing a campaign or communication push towards GenZ your more likely to find the drivers that will make them engage. Before you do that you might want to catch up on trends that are strongly related to Generation Z in my previous blog post.

General insights on GenZ

GenZ have a lot of purchase power averaging from 10 euro per week from the age of 4. They spend 75% on cloths and 15% on food and only save a very small amount if anything. It´s the most conscious generation and they massive influence on their parents. They strongly influence holiday destinations and on the food that being consumed at home. The old days of the household hierarki with parents on top don´t exists anymore. Today in a modern family everyone has a voice. GenZ there for have a key influence on their parent which leads to that they are important to target as secondary target groups in campaign thats originally design against the parents. 

But before heading in to the four insights here´s the last four generation and the sentence that define each of them:

  • Babyboomers 1946-64 (51-69 years) – I´m confident
  • GenX 1964-1979 (36-50 years) – I´m stressed out
  • GenY 1980-1996 (19-35 years) – I´m balancing
  • GenZ 1997-2011 (4-18 years) – I´m impatient

GenZ are identified with four characteristics that differentiate them with other generations

Characteristics 1 – I´m snappy

GenZ people tend to take the quickest way with everything. They ARE the ”on demand generation” making the on demand economy explode literary because they want everything now and are to impatient to wait. This goes along with them being big fans of things being ephemeral, like Snaps on Snapchat; just here for the moment and then disappearing.

It goes hand in hand with Generation Z having a really short attention span loosing interest extremely fast if not given any value or gratification of some kind. The GEICO insurance ad below is a good example. Everything happens in the first 5 seconds but is followed by an unexpected minute with their logo in the center. I guess you will watch it all. 😉

You need to tell the message within 8 seconds to keep the attention of GenZ. That´s why the rise of Periscope or Meerkat is booming. It´s all live then later on gone (ephemeral) which fall back on the trend insights of ”attention threshold” and ”everything now”. On Periscope your live movie stays for 24 hours but on Meerkat it´s instantly gone.

GenZ use online broadcasting because they want the latest news about whatever topic that might concern them and the possibility of communicating about it at the same time.

The most commonly used ”word” by the GenZ is the emoji <3 since they even created a language with emoijs.

Characteristic 2 – I´m dreaming of a better world

Blurred gender, you can be anything and belong to any gender you like. Like the Swedish model Erika Linder who is modelling as male and female, Miley Cyrus which wear a lot ”male” clothes, as well as gender in fashion is disappearing. The brand Selfridges released the fashion line A-gender for any gender or person.

In these time the Barbie doll is not doing well. Now Barbie is trying to empower a new doll in collaboration with Marvel to give her superpowers. GoldieBlox creates awesome toys, games like Roulette Games and entertainment for girls, designed to develop early interest in engineering and confidence in problem-solving, it´s brain on engineering. STEM – science, technology, engineering and math, #likeagirl, female empowerment.

  • Enoughism – GenZ had enough and new movements comes to life:  Redemption bar only with organic food and non alcoholic drinks, SOBER (alcohol free night club in Stockholm), Meat Free Mondays, No Poo For You (no shampoo for 30 days),
  • Share economy becomes stronger with examples like: Pumpipumpe, stickers for your mailbox of stuff your willing to lend out, – JustPark 500K in the BMW and Mini,
  • Health and girl empowerment #likeagirl – STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math)
  • 141 (one for one, buy one give away one) – Brands like: Toms, Warby Parker and Munchery


feffe kaufmann diy lego generation z genz

Characteristic 3 – I make it myself

  • Everything should reflect their own identity
  • ME-conomy – it´s all about me
  • Evolve personal skills to be come the best – Samsung Maestro program, Redbull Academy and Lifetrap (go on a one day mentorship)
  • Go for smaller brands, hand made like Our Vodka is made locally in different cities by micro breweries but really owned partly by the giant Pernard Ricard. Their way to try to sneak under the radar

Characteristic 4 – I´m ready to make it

Actively chillax, a combination of chill and relax that reflects the generations general view and take on both fashion and free time. Actively chillax is a big trend within in fashion as active wear. A market leader is Lou Lou Lemon who makes yoga pants and only makes active wear. Top Shop is now collaborating with Beyonce creating the same type of fashion. Another big thing is the combination of emoji and jogger pants. One large show within the GenZ is Shark Tank (X-factor of entrepreneurs) 

Perfectly imperfect – perfection fatigue, more real pictures, #uglyselfies. GenZ dislike big productions which are to perfect, they love imperfect products. There a brand on the rise where all clothes are designed with imperfections: defectionline.com, A campaign that sold out in only two days are the supermarket Intermaché  with inglorious food which increased interest of ”ugly” fruit

Failososphy – it´s ok to fail. Fuck-up nights – venue where people talk about failing with business, fail is an option instead of not doing anything. Much like LEGO´s new campaign movie about how to dream and how to make and create stuff even if it´s wrong or bad. LEGO:s #keepbuilding is all about individual strengths and being yourself.

”Every generation is the child of two things, you copy the some values from your parents and the other one your the child of time”

Joeri Van den Bergh, Co-founder & managing partner, InSites Consulting, Belgium

*All insights in this survey is thanks to InSites Consulting from Belgium that made a survey over 9 markets and with over 200 participants in each market.