Gen Zs have mixed feelings when it comes to what lies ahead—both for themselves and the world. We explore what this means for brands in a two-part series.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again when the topic of Gen Z comes up: this generation might just help save the planet from self-implosion.
For brands that want to appeal to Gen Z, it’s important to know what’s important to them. Sure, that’s marketing 101 and you’re probably well past that if you’re reading this. However, there’s a key, perhaps surprising thing to note: ask Gen Z how they feel about the current state of affairs and the future, and you’ll hear them describe an odd, intersecting emotional state of hope and uncertainty.
Gen Zs have concrete thoughts and definite plans for impacting the future—whether it’s improving our treatment of the environment or of one another.
In a two-part series, I spoke to several Gen Zers about the future and how they view their role in it; what brands they see taking with them for the long haul of life, and what personal legacy they plan on leaving behind. Here's what they said.
What is the first word that comes to mind when Gen Zs think about their personal futures?
“Limitless. There are a lot of opportunities in the world and I don’t want to squander any of them.”
“Growth. All I want and expect is to grow and learn. I ask the same for the world and America too.”
What is the first word that comes to mind when Gen Zs think about the future of the world?
“Scary. Climate is a huge issue that people acknowledge but don’t care to act to protect. I’m also equally scared for people of countries that have terrible leadership.”
“It's hard to maintain a positive outlook for the future when one considers all the bad. My hope is that my generation and millennials will begin to replace older generations in Congress.”
What impact do Gen Zs plan on making in the world?
"Gen Z will impact the world because we are diverse thinkers; we want the best for our families, ourselves, and the environment and we will work hard to get it.”
“My generation can make leaps in improving the production industry to promote manufacturing that is good for the environment.”
“I feel my generation can make a huge difference with understanding cultural humility.”
“I think my generation has a real responsibility to tackle long-term, urgent implementation strategies to combat climate change. I don’t see any way around it.”
“My generation will change things because we are active and are “woke” when it comes to society and being the best we can be to be the change we want to see in this world.”
What do Gen Zers hope to have achieved when they look back on their lives?
“Changing at least one thing—the life of a person, a community, a state or the world—in a positive way.”
“I hope that I can look back on my life and see that my biggest accomplishments have involved giving my life to help serve others.”
“Since middle school, my biggest dream has been to change another person’s life by just being there for them when they have no one.”
“I hope as an 80-year old, I’m looking back on a lifetime spent loving people deeply, through the friendships I fostered, the communities I served, and the family I nurtured.”
What does Gen Z’s outlook on the future mean for brands?
If Gen Zs feel any ambiguity about the future, it’s not from a lack of emotional investment. Zs feel hopeful for their own futures, yet uncertain about their ability to impact the issues playing out on the world stage. Brands that hope to win Gen Z must understand these complex dynamics and adapt their marketing accordingly.
In my next post, I’ll explore how Gen Z’s unique view of the future is shaping the products they buy and the brands they love.