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Zeno London
| 14TH MAR 2023

Zeno Thinks: Gen Z Report

If, by a quirk of fate, you were born after 1997, then the world is yours. Don’t just take our word for it: scholars, thought leaders and the self-appointed experts of LinkedIn are united in their admiration. According to these big brains, Gen Z constitutes the single most important demographic in the world today. And all of them – to a man, woman (and the 72 genders in between) – are resolutely committed to “diversity”, “authenticity” and the overwhelming force of social media. Yeah, right. Sure they are.

Are we really supposed to believe that two billion people, from all the far-flung corners of the world, can be summed up in a few pithy buzzwords? That they all march to the same drum?

Of course they don’t. That’s why we at Zeno have been taking a closer, dare we say more realistic, look at Gen Z. And here is the news: they really aren’t all that different to the generations that preceded them.

Yes, they do certain things differently to Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers, but that is a product of their environment, not some new breed of super-human. It’s a given that the first generation to grow up as digital natives will have their own perspective on the world. But they have far more in common with past generations than the “experts” would have you believe.

They’re no more laid back than their parents. No more ambitious or opportunistic. No more vulnerable, apathetic or desperate to feel at home than any of us. Think about it in terms of nature versus nurture. All humans share 99% of their genome, regardless of age. And we all know better than to underestimate the power of DNA. As for the characteristics that supposedly separate Gen Z from their forebears, is the mood of rebellion we see today any different to that of the brylcreemed rebels of the 1950s?

The “Great Resignation” exploded from a Gen Z TikTok account criticising the traditional working day. But Gen Xers made the same point three decades ago with the “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” mantra. Funnily enough, the majority of ‘Quiet Quitters’ since the pandemic have been Millennial men. Here’s the point: Gen Z are not a monolith. Labelling them as a dramatic break from the past assumes they are one amorphous blob, which they decidedly are not.

So don’t waste time trying to solve mythical universal problems or understand them as a homogenous entity.

In a world of continuous distraction – current estimates put the connected human at 5,000 points of contact a day – smart people (and brands) put their efforts into creating quality interactions.

It’s okay not to know everything. Embrace the uncertainty and celebrate the blissful ignorance of youth.

Don’t hate Gen Z because they’re not you.

Be curious, consistently, and work harder to understand what sets them apart from each other, rather than the false assumption that they are somehow a different breed of human.

Wondering where to start? Our Gen Z Report is below for you to whet your whistle.

Gen Z Report