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Debunking the myths surrounding Generation Z

6 June 2019   —   Opinion

Generation Z is a current challenge for many marketers and, almost daily, there are fresh articles and studies about this new generation of digital natives. But along with these studies are a few myths. Some of the main ones we’ve found are listed below.

TRUE: Gen Z all have something in common: when they were born and what was happening when they were born/growing up.

NOT TRUE: Gen Z all share the same attitudes, behaviours and characteristics. As with the world at large, there are many tribes, individuals and groups that buck against the impression or view we have of this cohort.
According to IPSOS MORI:  “Lives are becoming more stretched and varied within a cohort group, and often it’s other things (like country, income, education) that are more important in explaining differences.

TRUE: Gen Z are digital natives. They were born into technology, compared to older Millennials and Gen Xers who were not. So their approach to technology is unique and can be learned from.

NOT TRUE: Gen Z only engage with digital media channels, Gen Z don’t read books any more and Gen Z prefer shopping online.

In fact a study by Kantar Millward Brown suggests that Outdoor is the channel they are most receptive to - 55% are positive about receiving ads on Out-of-Home, and they are more receptive to cinema advertising than other generations. A study by Unidays found that 77% of the 22,723 student-age members of Gen Z surveyed read printed books.

Another study showed that 60%of  Gen Z shoppers prefer purchasing in physical stores, rising to 77% in the USA. 46% say they check in store to get more information before purchasing online.

TRUE: To engage with Gen Zers, you need to be authentic.

NOT TRUE: Gen Zers are not influenced by influencers or don’t shop with ‘unethical’ brands.  

The continuing rise in influencer is no coincidence – Gen Z are receptive to peer to peer and influencer marketing. As a whole, what is being called out is the onset of ‘fake’ influencers.

Simularly, while they want brands to be ethical in 2018, despite unnerving stories around their bad treatment of staff, Uber still managed to grow their customer base and the Gen Z audience are clearly part of this growth, with 10% of their audience being 18-24. Amazon continues to thrive despite its tax avoidance.

TRUE: Gen Z are prolific on social media.

NOT TRUE: Only Gen Z are prolific on social media - all generations feature many heavy users of social media, including the 65+ audience.

NOT TRUE: Gen Z don’t use Facebook any more - they absolutely are, however they are favouring ‘dark social’ where they can message and share content with friends privately and directly rather than publicly.


In summary, it’s important to be cautious about making huge generalisations and assumptions from some of the data presented on Gen Z.

One thing is definitely true - the focus on and coverage about Gen Z is only set to continue in abundance, until we turn our attention to the Alphas!





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