Generational differences are a fact of life. So it seems almost impossible that Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z could agree on anything. After all, Gen X is out of touch, Millennials ruined everything, and Gen Zs have an image problem.
Yet, surprisingly, there are some things they do agree on. For one, there’s a general indifference toward Gen Zs. They’re lazy. They’re lucky. They’re entitled. The list goes on and on.
Our recent study found that over 71% of Americans in older generations surveyed perceived Gen Z as embodying all those characteristics. They may never own homes, but they firmly own those attributes. Surprisingly, Gen Zs agreed, with 45% declaring their generation is lazy and 46% affirming they’re lucky, as well.
On a cursory overview, it’s hard to believe — there’s no way this self-absorbed, superficial generation has achieved self-awareness at such a high level. However, on closer examination, the facts kind of add up.
This is a generation that grew up in the lens of an iPhone. They share their images, their thoughts and their location on a near-constant basis. They’re more self-aware than anyone on this planet has ever had to be.
But there’s more to it — generations X, Y and Z all agree on something else.
When asked what values drive success, each generation espoused similar beliefs and values: hard work, knowing the right people and getting a good education. And yet they also agreed that they did not perceive the other generations as partners in this viewpoint. Though the fabric of each generation is similar, they perceive each other very differently.
Though perceptions may vary, there are constants that span the generations. This simplifies advertising and marketing to a basic level. What has always worked will likely work with Zs, provided it’s modernized. Perception is key.
In the 2010s, a time when cord-cutting and fast forwarding through commercials became a viable method of avoiding ads, marketers were forced to be more creative to sell their products. Enter social media influencers, who were able to connect to the consumer on a more personal level.
There’s not much difference between the celebrity endorsement of yore and the Instagram model of today. Tapping an influencer to sell a product will always work, as long as the advertiser is agile enough to understand the necessity in shifting to where the consumer spends their time. The newspaper ads of the 1920s turned into the television ads of the ’50s, which became internet advertising in the ’90s, and influencers in the 2000s—and yet, the fabric of the method remains stable while the perception is altered.
In 2018, social media platforms are being held responsible for the content that populates them, and ads are more and more becoming a common enemy. For advertisers concerned over how to reach the kids who are far more media-savvy than themselves, it’s simply a matter of going back to the basics.