For our first post in this new series on Gen Z, we unveiled new research on shopping habits in the beauty, personal care, and food and beverage categories. In our second update, we presented our research on social media usage, with cues on what to say to this generation. Now we turn to the future—connecting you directly with Gen Zers as they describe their outlook in their own words.
MOOD OR TIMING?
As we have said each time in this series, it’s important to remember how young Gen Z still is—12-25*. Many are obviously not financially independent, and only 32% work full time. This certainly explains why 65% wish they had more control over their life circumstances—they are in a life stage when much is decided for them.
They are also in a formative yet impressionable period—with plenty of time, as we have reviewed, for media usage: 35% report spending more than three hours a day with YouTube, while 31% spend more than three hours a day on TikTok. A lot of time with media, paired with a tumultuous, trying period in world history, proves a difficult mix: 60% of Gen Zers are optimistic about their future overall, compared to 72% of all adults. Sentiment worsens when looking at the world’s future—only 45% feel positive about that. And our study found that only 48% feel optimistic about their future job opportunities.
Millennials—oft-mentioned as a generation that has undergone financial setbacks—are now, interestingly, the most optimistic generation, with 75% reporting they are optimistic about their futures. Mintel attributes this to simple daily routines—like meditations and gradually adding to savings accounts—essentially confirming that action beats anxiety. Millennials, through time and life experience, have added to their sense of control and optimism. We hope that as Gen Z grows up and gains greater life control—while continuing important work for the environment, mental health, and diversity—that they find a stronger sense of optimism too.
LEARNING TO TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES
What actions are Gen Zers taking to invest in their self-care? While there is much discussion around this generation fighting stigmas of mental health, our research found they are taking a holistic, balanced approach to feeling better:
51% get outside
48% spend time on their beauty routine
46% take vitamins or supplements
45% eat healthily
36% meditate or practice mindfulness
35% engage in mental health assistance, such as therapy
When it comes to exercise specifically, outdoor walking or running is the most popular method, at 44%.
THE FUTURE IS…MIXED
When we asked Gen Z how they feel about the future, the overwhelming response followed this theme:
“As a whole, I am scared for the future of our country and planet, but personally for myself I am excited to see what the future has in store for me.”
“I'm feeling okay about my personal future, but not feeling great about the country or the planet's future.”
“I think the future looks really scary at the moment with global warming and COVID. I'm feeling good about my personal future currently.”
A small but significant segment felt more dire about the future…
“We are all going to die soon because of the effects of global warming, I'll probably get to be 30.”
“Globally a bleak future unless we dramatically reduce our global carbon footprint.”
While a few were more optimistic…
“I feel hopeful. I am currently in nursing school, so I am excited to make a difference and see some change happen soon.”
“I'm positive minded and very hopeful that the future will be better and stronger.”
Gen Z clearly feels a huge sense of concern, anxiety, and an inability to effect change when it comes to the planet. Yes, this generation fights for diversity and advocates for mental health. And yes, Gen Z can be contradictory with TikTok feeds filled with fast fashion hauls. But brands—listen up! Climate change tops the list of this generation’s greatest fears; they will prioritize and reward action and sustainability as they grow up and gain wallet share. Gen Z could also benefit from messaging that is at once hopeful and realistic, a tone many climate change advocates have yet to strike. An example that works, from Craig Mathews, co-founder of 1% for the Planet: “I remain optimistic. To say it’s too late and bury our head in the sand and say, ‘Now what are we going to do?’ That’s kind of betrayal. We’ve got to work so hard right now. It’s now or never.”
Like all of us, Gen Z wants to feel good about themselves, their purchases, and their actions. Brands can help them in that journey.
More from Stella Rising on Gen Z:
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Notes and Sources:
Our Glimmer research includes those 18 and over
Glimmer Survey 2022, Mintel: "Marketing to Gen Z, U.S.,” July 2022, "Marketing to Millennials, U.S.," July 2022