Here’s a reminder: Gen Z aren’t just kids. Often considered the youngest generation, the oldest of this group are actually about 25 years old, which means they have jobs, bills to pay and even children of their own. Meanwhile the youngest end of this demographic is just 10.
In other words: This generation currently encompasses a vast swath of life ranging from middle school to mortgages. So odds are your organization needs to target tis up-and-coming group in some way or another.
A new study from Instagram and forecasting firm WGSN surveyed 1,000 Gen Z social media users to evaluate what they most expect and want in the year ahead. The findings touch nearly every aspect of life, from music to finances and the environment to the creator economy.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways
An activist generation
Gen Z cares deeply about a wide range of issues — and wants the organizations and influencers they interact with to do the same. Thirty percent of Gen Z is of voting age, the study says, and they want to see change.
Topics they’re particularly passionate about include disability rights and climate change.
Concern over climate change seeps into aspects of Gen Z life you may not expect. For instance, half of survey respondents plan to DIY clothes in the new year — a response to the fast fashion movement that leave landfills stuffed with clothes intended to be worn only a short time. They also incorporate sun protection into their (often elaborate) skincare routines to ward off hotter temperatures and damaging rays.
Gen Z is looking for ways to earn a little money on the side. The survey found that 64% plan to monetize social media in some way in the coming year. And for such a young generation, they’re already understanding the importance of financial literacy: A quarter want to learn more about financial topics in the year ahead.
These shifts could herald two key trends. First, Gen Z is learning early that there are ways to earn outside a traditional 40 hour a week job. This could mean a major shift for employers in the years ahead. And second, the time to start earning the financial trust of Zoomers is now. They’re interested, they’re young and they could become customers for many, many years ahead.
American Gen Zers are the most ethnically diverse generation in history, according to Pew Research, with 48% identifying as a race other than white alone. It stands to follow that this generation has a deep interest in the world outside their own borders.
The Instagram survey found that more than half of respondents plan to listen to non-English music in 2023, with a particular emphasis on K-pop and Latino music. Another 68% either has or wants to try food from another culture after discovering it on social media.
Communicators must look beyond a dominant, mostly white culture to embrace this diverse group of Americans.
A craving for community
Unsurprisingly for a generation which spent many of its formative years in the midst of a pandemic that demanded we stay apart, Gen Z is particularly interested in coming together for in-person experiences. The survey found that one-third of respondents were interested in in-person meet-and-greets with influencers, while 68% of respondents plan or want to attend a rave in 2023 (yes, apparently raves are back).
Gen Z is a formidable generation that will transform many aspects of American life in their image as they grow in age, wealth and workplace share. The time to prepare is now. Start looking at how you can appeal to this financially savvy, internationally curious and environmentally concerned group now. And don’t limit your efforts to social media alone (though obviously that’s a critical part of reaching this group). Start thinking across all forms of media and content and start developing these audiences now.