Since we’ve started labelling the different generations, researchers of all disciplines have sought to clearly define them and the individuals within them. There is a need to categorize them based on who they are, what they do and how they behave, almost as though people are different simply based on their year of birth.
We were intrigued by this idea and we decided to take a deeper look at the question everyone is asking: what is Gen Z really like?
We started with some commonly known information. There are four main generational groups in Canada today: Baby boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z. Although the age ranges used to differentiate between generations are often contested, there is a loosely held consensus for each of them. Baby boomers are individuals who were born between 1944 and 1964, Gen X-ers were born between 1965 and 1979, and the often mentioned Millennials between 1980 and 1994. The generation in question, Gen Z, were born between 1995 and 2015, making them anywhere from 4 to 25 years old.
What else differs across generations? For many, technology comes to mind first. The defining technological advancement for baby boomers was the introduction of the television, where as Gen Z is inundated with new technologies. Consider this – over the 20 years of Generation Z, we’ve seen the introduction of Amazon, Netflix, Google, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, the iPhone, and self-driving cars. In fact, 55% of Gen Z use their smart phone for 5 or more hours a day, where 26% use it for more than 10 hours a day. Technology has become an integral part of their everyday lives.
Aside from that, Gen Z is the most diverse generation in history. In the most recent Canadian census, 27.5% identified as a visible minority, compared to 21% of those born before them. But with all this focus on defining the generations, misconceptions and stereotypes are inevitable.
At Art & Science, we hold a somewhat principled belief that while things like technology, pop culture and media may change, it’s more important to look at how the next generation will interact and adapt to those changes that offers more interesting insights.
We decided to ask the Generation Z’s at Art & Science to gain a better understanding of what Generation Z is really about. But first, let’s put some faces to the names.
Who We Asked
From top left to bottom right: Erin Oh, Digital Marketing Coordinator, Gabrielle Anagnostopoulos, Account Management Intern, Connor Smythe, Junior Developer, Josyln Tsui, Design Intern, Angel Ho, Project Coordinator Kathryn Hartog, Full-Stack Developer.
Let’s start with something easy – what are your three favourite apps on your phone right now?
Joslyn: Spotify, Messenger, Slack
Angel: Instagram, Spotify, Messenger
Connor: Shortcuts, Twitter, Instapaper
Gabrielle: Instagram, Spotify, Slack
Erin: Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp
Kathryn: Instagram, Twitter, Spotify
Instagram seems to be one of the most popular apps amongst your generation – why is that?
Angel: I think a big part of Instagram’s popularity has to do with the degree of separation it gives you while still allowing you to be connected to others. I’m okay with giving other people my Instagram because it’s not too personal, but it still gives people an idea of who I am – without any hassle.
Connor: I agree – it has more relative power as a traceable connection platform than anything else – except maybe your cell phone – but even then, it’s pretty close.
What are some common misconceptions about your generation?
Kathryn: I think a popular misconception is that people won’t be able to relate to our generation – that we’ve grown up with access to technology and have different opportunities somehow means we’re going to be completely different than people in the generations ahead of us. There’s for sure differences, it would be ridiculous to think there wouldn’t be, but we’re not this apathetic, technology addicted generation. Our problems and challenges are similar to those faced by people in the generations above us.
Joslyn: I would say the same thing. There’s a common belief that we’re lazy or that we don’t work hard. I think we work differently than people have in the past. Like we have opportunities that people didn’t – like working remotely. Just because my work allows flexibility doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not working as hard as people sitting in an office.
What type of marketing grabs your attention?
Angel: It really stands out for me when brands actually support their message all the time, not just when it’s convenient for them. I find lots of brands bandwagon onto different causes – Pride comes to mind – to grab consumer’s attention, and it’s obvious when brands don’t truly stand behind a cause or message they’re sending.
Gabrielle: Exactly! I was going to say the same thing – it’s essentially an extension of the phrase ”put your money where your mouth is”. Like if a brand is going to advertise how important the environment is to them, then they better be serious about supporting that cause. One brand that recently stands out for me is A&W, when they announced they would be pulling all of their plastic straws from their stores they used the remaining straws to put up an installation in front of Union Station that read Change is Good. It was a really memorable piece of marketing, but they genuinely are supporting that cause – they aren’t just using it for attention.
So what did we learn from all of this?
What you’re reading and hearing about Gen Z isn’t necessarily true. They work hard, and there’s overwhelming evidence of a non-spoiled, take nothing for granted culture (or maybe we just hired well). Although not the only important thing, technology does play a large role in their lives. Get to know these digital platforms they’re using, because new ones are emerging and the ways to reach this generation are changing.
Our advice to you – if you want to learn more about Gen Z, ask them.
Curious how our insights could help your business? Send us a message