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Brief Published: 13 Mar 2017

The Pivotal Generation: Getting to Know Gen Z

Some 53% of Gen Z (aged 15 to 19) agree personal success is the most important thing in life

Gen Z (aged 15 to 19), or the 'Pivotal Generation', want to work for success, believe that equality is non-negotiable and respect brands that portray reality honestly – according to a report from US marketing consultancy FutureCast and American ad agency Barkley. Highlights include:  

  • Driven to Succeed: Gen Z believe that becoming successful is important and that it's dependent on hard work, with 69% saying achievement has nothing to do with luck. More than half (53%) agreed personal success is the most important thing in life, whereas only 46% of millennials (aged 20 to 35) said this is the case.  
  • Social Activists: Every generation has a defining cause – boomers (aged 52 to 70) were anti-establishment, millennials focused on the environment and Gen Z want human equality. The issues that teens are most likely to support include racial equality (72%), gender equality (64%) and sexual orientation equality (48%).
  • Asking for Authenticity: Younger generations don't identify with traditional images of perfection and are demanding that brands portray life more realistically. Some 78% of Gen Zers like ads that show real people in real situations. For more on targeting consumers that value fallibility, vulnerability and real human emotion over the idealised promise of flawless lives, see Get Real: Marketing Imperfection.

Considering Gen Z influenced over $829bn in US spending in 2015 alone, this is a powerful group worth focusing on (IBM & National Retail Federation, 2017). To better understand the attitudes and behaviours of this influential cohort, see Gen Z: Smart Kids Take Control.