Commentary

Gen Z's New Definition Of Culture

Millennials have been the obsession of marketers for the past decade. They have been metaphorically poked, prodded, dissected, defined and redefined to the point of cliché.

Now coming up the path is Generation Z. This group of young people aged 12 to 22 is the new darling of demography with the potential to influence $200 billion in spending power.

Over the past few months, our company and Think Now Research have released the first three waves of the "We Are Gen Z Report," a cross-cultural study on the most ethnically diverse and largest generation in the U.S. numbering over 81 million. Gen Z is the generation born between 1995 and 2005. According to current U.S. Census definitions, it is 53% non-Hispanic white, making it the last generation in the U.S. to be majority non-minority. But using adjustments from the Census’ newer classifications, the multiracial segment increases from 5% to 10% and tips Gen Z over the top as the first majority minority generation in the United States.

Estimates put spending power for Gen Z at $44 billion and with influence on parental spending that number climbs to over $200 billion.

It’s no wonder this generation sees the world so differently because, after all, it’s a different world for them. This is a generation steeped in social media feeling that social media can create social change and understanding that they are a brand themselves in social media. To them, ethnic food is American food with over 70% of Asians, African-Americans, non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics all agreeing that they are open to foods outside of their cultures.

Diversity is no longer about a diverse ethnic population. Today for Gen Z, diversity means points of view, alternative thinking, gender identification, appearance, technology and consumer behavior.

Misty Copeland, the first African-American principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre is a cross-cultural Gen Z, breaking the mirror on what a ballerina’s body “should” look like and expressing her views on body image. While Copeland breaks the mirror for girls in this generation, Covergirl model James Charles breaks it for boys. James is the first male model for Covergirl. He has an amazing sense of style as well as being openly gay. With over 1.4 million Instagram followers, he is a brand. 

Marketers need to throw out the rulebook with Gen Z. The definition of beauty does not fit the mold of past generations and this generation expects the “real world.” The brands that will succeed will use one part aspirational imagery with one part bravery.

It’s new day and a new group with heavy spending power expecting a new view of the world they interpret in their own way.

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