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The current impact and trends of Gen Z

Gen Z
Consumer Campaigns & B2B

As (arguably) the most connected and progressive generation yet, it’s no surprise that Gen Z is at the forefront of many of the most prolific trends that we see day to day. From mental health to economic concerns and the workplace, Gen Z is leading the charge for change on a variety of fronts.

The demographic of people born between 1997 and 2012 is quickly overtaking Millennials as the most influential market segment and becoming the new trend setter. Gen Z is coming of age and making waves in practically every industry and economic sector. Any company hoping to expand in the coming decade simply cannot ignore the impact of this segment of the population. Read below as we dive into just some of the current trends that Gen Z is leading on and how as a result, they are helping to shape society.

Changing our perception on mental health

A survey from Deloitte found that 46% of Gen Zs feel stressed or anxious most of or all of the time and that 22% of Gen Zs in the UK took time off work due to stress and anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Concerns over their longer-term financial future (35% of Gen Zs), welfare of their family (31% of Gen Zs) and career prospects (36% of Gen Zs) were also highlighted as some of the leading causes of anxiety among those feeling stressed. Each of these findings highlight that stress-levels among younger people in the UK are higher than the global average.

Reports from McKinsey also say that Gen Zs have the least positive outlook on life, and individuals are two to three times more likely than other generations to have thought about or attempted suicide in the past year.

This can make for some shocking and rather depressing reading; however, we must remember that the stigma associated with mental health issues has also lessened in the last few years with the help of many celebrities talking publicly about their own mental health struggles. In addition to this, efforts to boost their mental health, self-care and holistic health have become popular among Gen Zs. They’re making healthier food choices, using more skin products, and abstaining from alcohol more often.

Gen Z is now more open and willing to discuss mental health than any other generation we’ve seen to date. Through social media, Gen Z can connect with others who are experiencing similar struggles. They are leading the way in their response and willingness to stand up for their values, helping to create a safe space online for mental health experiences to be discussed.  

In addition to increasing the discussion of mental health experiences, counsellors, doctors, psychologists, and other medical professionals are now too using social media to provide education, arguably due to it being a platform so regularly used by Gen Z, therefore where they can have the most impact. By posting infographics, TikToks, and Instagram Reels, they can share resources and information about mental health.

Influencing The Workplace

The oldest members of Gen Z are just now entering the full-time workforce, but by 2025, they’ll make up 27% of the global workforce. So as of now, the future of work and the workplace rests on the shoulders of Gen Z, soon to be the most populated and diverse generation in history. Gen Z’s entrance into the workforce is shifting old contracts between employers and employees with expectations about workplace environment, culture, and support sitting at the forefront. Innovative companies are recognising this impact and developing tactics to address the needs of Gen Z employees.

Gen Z workers value the flexibility of remote/hybrid work that became the new global norm during the pandemic. According to Bloomberg, in a survey of 500 office workers, 73% said they’d look elsewhere if they were mandated to work five days a week in the office. Gen Z argues remote and hybrid work fosters productivity, fewer workplace distractions and minimises many of the stress drivers that exacerbate Gen Z workers’ mental health concerns.

Despite an increase in employer attention to mental health, stigma remains. Gen Z employees want meaningful impact through improved access to resources, increased awareness, compassionate leadership, and a wellness culture. They insist that companies must consciously create stigma-free work environments that place a priority on well-being and integrate mental health help throughout the organisation via policies and programs that care for workers.

Gen Z’s focus on increased opportunities to learn and grow is now the number one factor that defines an exceptional work environment for them. Training and reskilling programs have the potential to benefit all employee generations, including Generation Z, and to boost overall employee retention. Reach across generations to prioritise human connection and meet Gen Z where they are in order to attract, retain, and engage young workers.

Driven By Digital

Gen Z doesn’t know a time when the internet didn’t exist. They are “digital natives” in the truest sense of the term. More than 95% of Gen Zs own a smartphone, 83% own a laptop, and 78% own an internet-connected gaming console.

Long before the term “influencer” was coined, young people played the social role by creating and interpreting trends. Now a new generation of influencers has entered the scene. Being exposed to the internet and social networks has created a hypercognitive generation, very comfortable with collecting and cross-referencing multiple sources of information and integrating virtual and offline experiences.

Trends show that this generation is becoming more and more centred on tech. Social media is a huge trend for this generation. One-quarter of Gen Zs spend five hours or more per day on TikTok. Most Gen Zs also use their smartphones for video streaming, music, and podcasts and an average Gen Z individual spends 3.4 hours per day streaming videos.

Gen Z’s identity and digital are undoubtably linked. They are far more likely than other generations to believe in the positive impact of technology on the world. More Gen Zs are entering the workforce each year. Hence, on top of influencing their family’s purchases, they can now purchase from their own pockets. Set to be an economic powerhouse within the next decade, attracting Gen Z to purchase is trickier than was the case with older audiences. This generation is likely to skip ads and engage with subtle product placements through content that resonates with them, however, there is no doubt that Gen Z’s buying power is growing every year with the rise of YouTube videos, TikTok and a new approach to marketing.

Fighting for a better future

According to Forbes (2022) Gen Z is the most diverse generation in history. Whether it’s racial justice, climate change, or rights for women and the LGBTQ community, Gen Z are spirited when it comes to campaigning for safer and better futures for themselves and future generations.

Post-millennials are driven by equality and social justice for all. And with total distrust in those running the world’s government’s, Gen Z are ahead of the curve and taking matters into their own hands to protect not only their rights, but also the rights of their peers, and it doesn’t look like this will be changing any time soon.

Spending power on the rise

Despite the current state of this country’s economy, the convenient, yet potentially evil wrath of Buy Now Pay Later schemes, such as Klarna and Clearpay, have Gen Z by the throat. But why are they falling into this dangerous shopping habit?

High streets across the country are losing their businesses as people are choosing to shop online. With the ease of online shopping and the increasing popularity of BNPL schemes coming hand in hand, it’s no wonder thousands of people have fallen into debt to these schemes, the temptation of much wanted and often more expensive items at your fingertips proving too much to resist.

Another reason for Gen Z’s abandonment of the high street is sustainability – with this at the forefront of their shopping habits, it’s often much easier to find brands and vintage staples on the internet than it is to find them on our high streets. Gen Z are choosing to spend more on vintage or sustainably made clothing, rather than falling into the clutches of poorly made clothing from fast-fashion brands, but as a result are neglecting the high street.