Internet-enabled since birth, Gen Z are the first youth generation with an unfiltered view of the world. They’re consuming the same content their parents are, realizing that everything’s mediated and manufactured.
Big Picture: Gen Z is aware of their power they wield over culture and media, so they’ve developed a heightened sensitivity to the actions and ethics of brands trying to profit off of them. Critiquing partnerships and collabs between brands and personalities is second nature. If values don’t match and seem opportunistically “on trend”, they’ll take you down mercilessly in the comments. Their hope is to gain knowledge from brands as they navigate this new, disappointing world.
Why It Matters: Bombarded with opposing information, it’s hard to decipher what’s true, so they use authenticity to help them figure out who and what to trust. Brands tend not to represent the world they live in. It’s the reason why they follow and trust more content creators and influencers than any other group. Even if they disagree with the perspectives of brands and influencers, they can reconcile it so long as it’s delivered authentically and with a sincere reason. Things don’t always make sense to them, so as long as others own their dilemmas, confusion, and contradictions, they’re good with
Bottom Line: Trying to learn youth culture only to sell it back to them is quite possibly the worst move for marketers. Gen Z wants to be taken seriously. Stop speaking their language — help them belong.