Understanding Generation Z
I am part of generation Z, and everybody I work with here at Embryo is of an older generation than me. Therefore, I’ve heard countless times the saying ‘I never understand your generation.’ This mainly comes from our Director, James. Because of this, I’ve wanted to write a blog for a while to help people like James understand our odd generation.
Luckily, if you’ve ever had any questions about generation Z and their social media and creative habits, which I’m sure you have, Snapchat has answered them. Snap Inc has recently released two new reports that cover a variety of aspects on the next key user group, with a focus on creativity and how gen z view connections with people and brand online.
The first report, ‘Into Z Future‘, is a 70-page outline of key Gen Z habits and trends, including a heap of key insights and stats to help guide your marketing approach. While it is millennials that have dominated the discussions in digital over the past few years, it’s Gen Z which is up next.
Snap Inc notes:
“Gen Z have grown up immersed in a digital-first society marked by severe shifts in economic, environmental and political circumstances. They’re the hyper-connected, highly opinionated generation, moved to activism as the internet and social media landscape has made them acutely conscious of and concerned about world events. Having lived in an era of overall progress when it comes to issues like marriage equality and body positivity, they’re forging new territory in broader conversations about identity; this is the cohort of gender fluidity and inclusivity in all its forms.”
As noted by Snap, Gen Z is only going to become a bigger consideration for brands, so it’s worth getting an understanding of the key trends in order to maximize your marketing approach for the next shift.
The next generation of super creatives
Growing up with mature social media, online creative tools and gesture recognition at their fingertips, and with entrepreneurial platforms to broadcast their wares, generation Z is defining a new era of influence and creative communication. This group, between 13 and 22 years old, are already monetizing their outputs, building empires, e-zines, influencer communities and more.
Snap Inc says:
It’s time to recognise that gen Z are super creatives, a supercharged multidisciplinary future of creative talent. And your new consumers.
More than half of gen Z (51%) say their generation is more creative than previous generations, according to a 2019 study conducted in the United States and United Kingdom by JWT Intelligence.
On this, Snap notes:
“Gen Z are absolutely more creative, but it’s more utilitarian than other generations,” Molly Logan, co-founder of gen-Z run think tank Irregular Labs, tells JWT Intelligence. In other words, while “creativity” was taught to millennials and generation X in art classes, it’s significantly more inherent for gen Z.
Many gen Zers, some of whom are already starting to enter the workforce, are leveraging social apps to build communities and creative endeavours that are intertwined with a passion for advocacy, art, or entrepreneurship. Gen Zers are not single-taskers. They are poets, writers, visual artists, and musicians, using social channels and multiple mediums to create and manipulate their image and connect with others. As such, they live in a space of multiplicity, both in identities and craft.
Gen Z have a unique relationship with the digital culture that manifests in how they use digital tools to create. They lean towards images over extensive text, for example. They like to layer hand-drawn illustrations over digital imagery. They combine influences from all corners of the world, and thus they are curators of the digital space, and montage it to create new things rather than making brand new things from scratch.
“The creativity that we’ve seen develop around gen Z has really manifested organically based on how they communicate with each other.” – Jeff Miller, global head of business marketing, Snap.
The creative habits of generation Z
Creative expression once meant producing original work moulded by one’s imagination and the limitations of the physical experience. Now, gen Zers are evolving the definition, thanks to their digital intuition and limitless inspiration from the internet.
Most gen Zers have a penchant for traditional artistic hobbies such as painting, film, or playing an instrument, but online, these talents take on new forms. Taking cues from a world of online personalities and content, gen Zers are manipulating and altering creative works to generate memes, photo collages, filters, and more. What’s more, they’re harnessing social apps and digital creative tools to visually enhance the way they communicate.
Snapchat’s key takeaways:
1 – This generation is creatively trilingual and resets the rules for brands and marketers when it comes to communicating with them. “Unlike any generation before them, they’ve grown up expressing themselves online,” Molly Logan of Irregular Labs tells JWT Intelligence. “They’re expressing very complex thoughts, very personal ones—we see them with their emotions in a really raw, revealing way on social media. But whatever they’re doing, whether it’s a caption or a comment, it’s always tethered to something that’s visual and creative.”
2 – Gen Zers may seem contradictory as they are inherently unafraid of exploring countless identities and ways of expressing themselves. In terms of the ways this is expressed, it’s “all fair game,” Logan says. “They’ve grown up understanding that there’s all this stuff out there that you can integrate to make something original, but it’s not really yours. They’re constantly borrowing and recreating, and then passing it on.” This melts borders, both aesthetic and cultural. Logan points out that gen Zers have grown up with “access to all this information, and ideas and visuals from places all over the world, all pockets, and all different points of view” sitting on their flat screens. “It’s all been flattened in that way, so it’s literally all equal, it’s just all there—why shouldn’t they mash it up?” she says.
3 – Gen Zers are authentic. While their social profiles comprise a mix of curation and reality, an individual’s personal truth plays an important role in creative engagement for this generation. Acutely polished, perfectly arranged photos of decor and food have given way to spontaneous live videos, stream-of-consciousness storytelling, and grainy, old-school photography.
4 – Humor and entertainment are top motivators for gen Z to create and consume on social media, and are harnessed when gen Zers are communicating with friends or sharing content for a greater cause. They’re buoyed by creative freedom in communication and a penchant for efficiency. No meme, emoji, or digital wordplay is deemed inappropriate or unprofessional when it comes to getting the message across, whether it’s a social cause or an inside joke.
5 – Self-expression can take many forms online, but for gen Z, social causes like LGBTQ issues, body positivity, and mental health are increasingly at the core. The internet can be a judgmental place, but gen Zers are unabashedly using their reach to create communities and dialogue around their fluidity. They’re redefining gender identities and breaking beauty norms, going beyond tutorials and selfies to establish more multifaceted personas.
6 – They may be hyper-digital but they’re also mindful of too much social media use. Expressing creativity offline, therefore, is almost as important to them, whether it’s doodling, crafting, making music, or film photography. But most gen Zers post their tangible work online, or even find ways of layering the digital with the analogue, resulting in more fluid creative expression.
7 – Ultimately, more than half of gen Z survey respondents say they find social apps a more creative space than what they experience offline. To this end, the digital landscape offers gen Zers unparalleled access to information and inspiration free of physical boundaries, meaning their output can draw on the creative expression of cultures and communities around the world.