Article Image - Think You Know Gen Z? Think Again

Think You Know Gen Z? Think Again

By: Hoffman York
February 2024

It seems like only yesterday when Gen Z was toddlers. But they are growing up and now the second-largest generation, commanding $360 billion in buying power. So yes, now would be a good time to pay attention to them—if you haven’t already. What do you need to know? To truly understand this generation, we surveyed more than 1,300 Gen Zers, aka Zoomers, to tell us their likes, dislikes and views on life. Here are five key findings and takeaways from our research:  

Gen Z Unraveled: A marketer’s guide to understanding the misunderstood generation

  1. They’re in a constant state of change  
    Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Zers are both kids and adults, which makes them difficult to define. The youngest are in middle school while older Gen Zers are in the workforce, getting married and buying homes. Their lives are ever-changing—middle school to high school, high school to college, college to career and single to married. As the first generation to grow up with the Internet, smartphones and social media, they’re digital natives and closely connected to the world around them.   

    Key Takeaway: Marketers who want to reach Gen Z must realize they’re going through many life changes and evolving. They’re digitally savvy and care about social issues, and that impacts the brands they buy.  
  2. They’re pessimistic by nature   
    Gen Z is the least likely to say they are happy in life (31%) and optimistic about their future (32%). This is fueled by what’s happening around them—the pandemic, global unrest, financial crises, wars, gun violence, climate change and societal issues. This may explain why they are also the least optimistic about the future of the country (16%). But it’s not all bad, as many Gen Zers also see themselves as entrepreneurial (35%), charitable (32%), innovative (41%) and intelligent (43%).   

    Key Takeaway: Striking a balance between doom and gloom and toxic positivity is delicate. Recognizing the negatives and giving Gen Z encouragement to improve their future can be a powerful thing.   
  3. They prefer to work in an office  
    Gen Zers are new to the workplace and need mentorship. This may be why they are the least likely to want to work from home than an office (41%). But office preference is not about meeting friends as Zoomers are the least likely to say it’s important that they’re friends with their co-workers (36%).    

    Key Takeaway: Marketers need to understand that Gen Z seeks face-to-face interaction, especially when it comes to their careers.
  4. They want to learn and explore   
    Over the next year, Gen Zers are planning to travel to a different country (25%), continue their education (26%), learn a new language (25%) and start a side hustle (30%). They also have dreams of marriage, kids and a home of their own, just not now. Over the next year, only one in 10 will be ready for all that. The majority are content to wait another 6+ years to tie the knot (39%), start a family (37%) and buy a house (35%).   

    Key Takeaway: Gen Zers are taking time to figure out their future. In the meantime, they want to learn and enjoy life. Marketers that embrace Gen Z’s desire for self-discovery will be the ones to win them over. 
  5. They take things personal  
    Every generation values quality, low cost and durability. But more than any other age group, Gen Z prefers brands and retailers that provide personal recommendations (26%). And it makes sense—they’ve grown up in a world where everything around them is curated based on their behavior and interests, whether it’s their “For You” page on TikTok or Spotify playlist. They also take the planet seriously, preferring to pay more for environmentally friendly products (75%), products that use recycled materials (71%) and organic foods (68%).  

    Key Takeaway:  This generation cares about brands, but what they want is different than other generations. Brands that cater to Gen Z’s interests and have a higher purpose will be the ones to gain their favor. 

Stay tuned for more highlights from our research, including how Gen Z shops, where they stream content, their love of travel, social media’s impact on their mental health and more. Gen Z is a complicated demographic to market to and they have a new set of expectations. Getting in front of them doesn’t have to be daunting—Hoffman York can help.  

Ready to dive in deeper? Download the full report: Gen Z Unraveled: A marketer’s guide to understanding the misunderstood generation. Gain valuable insights into Gen Z’s attitudes on the present and future, employment and work, retailers and brands, social media and influencers, travel and leisure, content and providers and more.  

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