The COVID-19 era has reinforced Gen Z’s post-material, purpose-driven identity, which has been shaped by their parents, their phones and major events of their generation, such as the 2008 economic recession and now COVID-19. That’s the conclusion of new research published by Publicis Media’s Moxie.
Gen Z is committed, more than any other generation, to making a difference with 60% reporting a core belief in planning to change the world. These “Identity nomads” want to experiment with different ways of being themselves: Seven out of 10 defend causes related to identity; 74% say it’s imperative to feel comfortable expressing yourself, compared to 37% of millennials. And 83% agree that being open to new ideas is important to their identities.
The research suggests five ways brands can better connect with this audience, a key priority since Gen Z is the generation everyone should all be looking to right now because the effects of COVID-19 and social distancing have accelerated the habits and traits hardwired in them.
First, brands need to treat mobile devices as tools, not toys. Gen Z uses their phones to do everything under the sun, but brands often misunderstand their usage. For instance, Moxie recommends brands track how they consume videos on mobile, with Android users engaging in multi-view, where they can watch more than one video at a time on a mobile screen.
In the wake of events like #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo and #MarchForOurLives, Gen Z turned to action, not apathy. This group truly believes they can save the world, and they expect brands to do the same. Therefore, brands need to demonstrate their values in order to win their long-term loyalty.
The social distancing effects of COVID-19 have accelerated the transformation of work culture requiring employers to embrace flexibility as a top priority. This new reality will both help attract and retain these younger workers.
Compared to Millennials, Gen Zers are frugal with 83% proclaiming to be conservative in matters related to finance. This pragmatism affects every buying decision they make. Brands can sway them to open their wallets by highlighting their usefulness and key attributes i.e., substance over style.
Access to endless information has put Gen Z on a constant search for their identity, and they plan to try on different identities their whole lives. For brands, this is great news, as Gen Z wants them to change their identities too. The study’s recommendation to brands: Don’t go after perfection and instead prioritize speed and transparency to connect with Gen Z.