Generation Z: Socratic more than Meta

Posted by Mary McIlrath on Thu, Nov 16, 2017 @ 11:23 AM

At the Share.Like.Buy Conference this fall, we were honored to share findings from our YouthBeat® Global studies. And, we were struck by the portrait of Generation Z painted by the cumulative insights garnered from both days of the conference.

YouthBeat® concluded that Generation Z is not just a “meta” (i.e., self-referential) generation, but a Socratic one (i.e., truth-seeking by reflecting on others). 

For example, Generation Z has moved past the “Talk Soup” TV summaries of pop culture content of the ‘90s, to ‘Afterbuzz’ online. They call themselves the “ESPN of Talk TV” and include multiple hosts in varied studio locations espousing everyman analysis on the entertainment programs of the day. They cover 300+ shows a week in 100+ broadcasts, including calls from “real-life” viewers as well as chats among their hosts.

In another vein, “access over ownership” companies like Uber, Lyft, Zipcar, Airbnb, and the like, rely on user reviews to determine what constitutes a “good” company or individual provider with whom to do business. On a similar tack, Tugg offers teens the ability to choose the movie at their local theater—as long as they can crowdsource enough friends to sell out that theater. 

Even cause-related activities can become viral for Generation Z.  DoSomething.org, started way back in 1993, offers modern youth avenues to give back in ways that fit their social and lifestyle needs. From promoting “Teens for Jeans” drives, to encouraging youth to flag elephant ivory sellers on Ebay, to suggesting period product collections for local women’s shelters, DoSomething.org connects young people with a drive to give to in tangible ways they see can make a difference. 

In a similar way, the new app Dlyted, (pronounced “Delighted”), gives users of any age the opportunity to mash up their usual spending with myriad ways to flex their prosocial muscle.  Through the app, shoppers can purchase a wide variety of digital gift cards (think everything from Amazon to Texas Roadhouse), earning points that can be accumulated and donated to the user’s favorite cause. Plus, savvy philanthropists can double-dip—by buying an Amazon gift card and spending it on AmazonSmile, shoppers can designate further contributions to their causes of choice.

Our POV is that brands that matter to Generation Z engage them not just on an individual basis, but also embrace the shared experience and feedback loop they value so highly.

Tags: youth research, Youth, kids tweens teens, Gen Z, generation research