Apr 27, 2021

Connecting with Gen Z 101


In the midst of a cloudy, unpredictable year, emerging values and behaviors among Gen Z can offer clarity and direction for brands looking to build lasting relationships with a young, passionate, and dynamic audience


Last month we hosted our latest Nextatlas webinar: The Z Factor where we shared the trends illustrating Gen Z’s evolution as well as a number of “Insights to Action” to guide brands toward deep consumer connections.

As Gen Z continues to step into a more central role on both the market and cultural stage, it’s becoming increasingly vital for brands to understand and empathize with the youth. In addition to being a massive consumer segment, Gen Z have positioned themselves as powerful cultural drivers, evidenced in their propulsion of massive campaigns to address everything from social justice to climate change.

The full report, filled with even more data, case studies, and detail, is now available on Nextatlas.

Allowing Gen Z to find their own place & position within each of those movements is an increasingly sophisticated sense of self. This focus on identity has become a core tenet of Gen Z’s evolution; with more maturity and time for introspection, the youth are not only reckoning with their values and interests, but also elevating and redefining the qualities to strive towards. According to our AI, there’s been serious growth among Gen Z about a number of identity-centric tags such as Authenticity (+46%), Personality (+110%), Imperfections (+63%), and Genderless (+70%) over the last 18 months.

Conversations about “Authenticity” among Gen Z audiences are predicted to continue growing +25% over the next 6 months

Now, this added level of confidence in their identities and voices is leading to more nuanced pursuits and concerns. For example, consider one of the emerging macrotrends identified in our report: Gen Z’s precipitous embrace of “Creative Entrepreneurship.” Echoed in the growth of our Profitable Passion trend (as well as its relevance to a young audience), we’re seeing Gen Z, at large, find their lanes in the passion economy through a range of platforms from newcomers like Substack & Clubhouse to titans like YouTube & TikTok. Through these outlets, young creators are able to further explore their personalities, skills, and interests and leverage them into legitimate lifestyles.

The Profitable Passion Trend is predicted to grow +20% over the next 6 months

Brand Applications & Imperatives

For brands looking to court Gen Z, these are profound entry points to connect with the youth. Among some particularly promising strategic actions (the totality of which you’ll find in the report!), the notion to“Empower Teentrepreneurs” is especially relevant to Gen Z’s arrival in the passion economy. Of a handful of innovative brands launching campaigns aimed at this community, the resale app Depop recently launched a range of brick-and-mortar locations to function as hubs for sellers to showcase their collections live and build their individual brands. By taking a hands-off approach and allowing the creators to curate and display their own collections through their own visions, the brand is successfully pushing creators to think bigger while further ingratiating themselves with a passionate community.

Empowering “teentreprenuers” needs to go beyond simply stamping a brand name on an outreach campaign. Instead, these strategies require thoughtfully designed projects that can not only offer the financial backing and publicity of a brand name, but can also maintain a sense of autonomy for its community of creators. More than anything, brands will need to walk the line between building their own recognition and keeping Gen Z in the driver’s seat.

One of Depop’s community hubs in Silver Lake, California

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Trend lines, data, and information described in this article emerge from the ongoing analysis performed by Nextatlas on its global observation pool made of innovators, early adopters, industry insiders expressing their views on Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit.

To learn more about our AI, discover Nextatlas Methodology here

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