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For Gen Z, it’s sun’s out, mask’s off. Kind of. In mid-May, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated Americans could resume pre-pandemic activities. As such, they officially gave Gen Z the thumbs up to remove masks outdoors and in most indoor settings along with ending social distancing.
This doesn’t mean everywhere is a no-mask zone. The CDC says masks are still required on planes, buses, trains and other public transportation, but ultimately, it’s state and local governments that get to determine what’s right for their citizens. So yes, the rules are still a little squishy on what’s kosher state by state, city by city, but the good news it seems (fingers crossed), is that the world might be slowly reopening for Gen Z, a generation asked to sacrifice much during the pandemic.
For brands looking to connect with Gen Z, it’s important to know where their heads are at. As Zers slide into summer—and one that’s shaping up to be much different (in a good way) than 2020—how are they feeling about life post-vax? How might the easing restrictions impact and shape Gen Z’s spending? Gen Z Insights queried 3,500 UNiDAYS members to find out.
After a year that started with sheltering in place followed by social distancing and a surreal school year, Gen Z is eager to recover their social lives. In our most recent survey, we asked Gen Z, “What did you miss most this past year?” Their responses indicate what we expect of this generation: they miss each other, community and a sense of normalcy.
It’s safe to say that Gen Z will be out and about, creating memories and having the experiences they were woefully shortchanged of in the past year. Food and beverage brands, fashion and apparel, beauty and healthcare can likely expect a surge in business now that Gen Z can go out to restaurants and bars both in- and outdoors.
It’s interesting to note that not an insignificant percentage of Gen Z (17%) rather liked the quiet and solitude the pandemic forced upon them. Brands would be wise to acknowledge this group and be careful not to overlook their introverted tendencies. They still consume your goods, services and food, but perhaps not in the same way as the greater Gen Z population. Efforts made to be inclusive to both will go a long way—with both.
"Gen Z are a hyper-informed, hyper-connected consumer, who expect customised personalised products, services and value, across every device, every platform. Their real world and digital presence are basically one of the same. Brands must urgently connect with this unfamiliar, digital-native consumer who is defining social commerce. Many marketers find this new world order daunting, but it represents great possibility." Josh Rathour, CEO UNiDAYS
When spring break 2021 came around this year, vaccines were just beginning to roll out. Gen Z didn’t have time on their side for planning fun trips to the beach or Europe, or let’s be honest, really anywhere. But for those Gen Z that have been fully vaccinated (the CDC defines fully vaccinated as 2 weeks after a second dose in a 2-dose series, or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine), most of the world is their oyster.
The CDC also recently stated that there’s no need to get tested before or after travel in the US or to self quarantine upon returning home. And unless the destination requires it, there’s no longer any need to get a COVID test before international travel. Not all countries are open but all signs point to the EU opening their borders to vaccinated Americans by summer.
This is great news for the hard-hit travel industry as that’s what Gen Z longs to do—travel, and as indicated by our poll, more than half the Zers we surveyed don’t much care where they go, they just want to go.
Pre-pandemic, Gen Z traveled upwards of 50 miles every one to three months, according to a UNiDAYS survey. With the world reopening, there’s no indication that this desire to see new places will diminish—in fact, we predict it will only grow.
When asked what their summer plans are now that restrictions are easing, our Gen Z members were united. Wanderlust lives on with travel mightily beating out seeing family and friends. This summer and in the following months, the travel industry can look forward to a resurgence of Gen Z hitting the road, rails and airlines at pre-pandemic levels.
While seeing friends was not as popular as travel, it would be remiss for any brand targeting Gen Z to not provide offers and messages around reuniting with friends and a return to socializing with one another. As one of our members put it,
“I missed seeing my friends and normalcy the most. Now that I am vaccinated, I feel optimistic and am so glad I get to hang out with my friends again.”
As Gen Z re-enters the world and begins to enjoy some of the freedoms they missed out on during the past year, brands would be wise to acknowledge the sacrifices this generation was forced to make for the greater good, and encourage them to return to living their best, authentic lives.
When it comes to developing an effective Gen Z strategy, there are many different ways to connect with Gen Z and engage your brand. From impactful storytelling to affinity marketing, we can help. Contact us to learn more.
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