While marketers are busy chasing millennials, the next generation of young people is moving into the spotlight.
According to a new global study by Zeno Group, Gen We (14-20) and Gen Z (21-25) wield powerful influence in the family, and are more self aware and socially responsible than the generations before them.
The study, part of Zeno Group’s The Human Project research, gathered data from more than 3,600 youth and 1,500 parents with children 13-18 in the household in Canada, the U.S., China, India, Australia and the U.K.
“Marketers are really focused on millennials, but there’s this other generation that looks like it’s going to be a bit bigger than millennials that marketers are not quite focused on yet,” said Therese Caruso, managing director of global strategy and insights at Zeno Group.
“We wanted to see how they’re different, what makes them different and what makes them the same, so we can help [clients] understand what they’re dealing with when it comes to this future generation that is starting to really make an impact across different categories.”
The study uncovered “seven global truths” that characterize the youth generation:
#1 Youth wield powerful influence
There has never been a generation with more influence both inside and outside the family and this has changed the dynamic of the modern family. “They’re influencing their parents on everything, from what car to buy to where to go on vacation, to everything in between,” said Caruso. Seventy-eight percent of parents with children in this group feel their kids are more involved in their family’s decisions than they themselves were as children.
#2 The new leadership paradigm
Global youth do not view leadership by the traditional, top-down mode. Rather, they prefer a lead-by-example, collaborative model. On a scale of 92 values, leadership is ranked extremely low at 65, while equality is ranked number two by Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia.
#3 Friendship is built on values vs. shared interests
Global youth build friendships not on proximity or convenience, but on shared values such as morals, ethics and beliefs, and priorities. Thanks to this group’s strong sense of identity, peer pressure is also starting to fade.
#4 Technology + the love/hate paradox
Global youth work to maintain a balanced relationship – not a dependency – on technology. Nearly a quarter of global youth unplug from tech to maintain physical health. “Everybody thinks that they’re on their phones and iPads way too much and that this is actually going to have a detrimental effect on them, but our research shows that they really do know when to abandon their phones or tablets to go and do other things,” said Caruso. “They’ve never really known a world without technology and it doesn’t hold that same magic that it does for older generations.”
#5 Youth are health aware, guided by balance
Global youth educate themselves on health and wellness, and they aren’t interested in traditional diets. Out of 92 values, health was ranked number one among Chinese youth – differing greatly from the values of their parents. For Canadians, health ranked was ranked #24.
#6 Happiness re-defined: The new We/Z happiness equation
Global youth view happiness as equal-parts balance, success and purpose. Success tops the list as the highest-ranking value among youth in Canada, U.S., U.K., India and Australia.
#7 A brand called “me”
Global youth are passionate about brands that help to enhance and build upon their own personal brand. “They have a really different relationship with brands,” said Caruso. “I think the biggest difference is millennials join brands. They’re brand evangelists and wear with pride on their sleeves the brands they choose. Teens and the younger millennials are more like curators… they use brands to build their own brand.”
How can marketers connect with the up-and-coming generations? “The first thing is brands need to understand who they are,” said Caruso. “Know what they’re interested in, what they’re studying in school, what their values and hopes and fears are in life.”
In addition, “let them be brand advocates,” said Caruso. “Let them speak for the brand and let them in. Give them a job to do. And be kind and considerate to them and their friends.”