Communications Officer
At 2.5 billion, Gen Z overtook Millennials in 2019 to become the largest generation on earth. Lizzie Nolan, EVP Strategy and Intelligence, Havas Media Group, and Lindsey Partos, Strategy & Editorial Director, Havas Media Group, recently released a White Paper entitled Gen Z. Not Dazed. Not Confused to help us understand our world’s newest players. From describing 11 key traits attributed to modern youth to delving into why media matters, the paper explores how this nuanced, connected and extraordinary generation is literally shaping the future of media.

Can you talk about why it’s so important to understand Gen Z?

A break from previous generations, Generation Z are ripping up the playbook for everyone. They are the most progressive, and responsible, generation yet. They have the tools, tenacity and self-awareness to drive the change they feel is so badly needed.

Plugged into culture and purpose, their playground to nurture this change is everywhere media is, from the beat of a note to the word of a social media post. We believe meeting them there, where they play, through meaningful media experiences, will unlock massive opportunities for business and brands to reach the largest cohort on the planet today.

As researchers at Havas and content creators at Vivendi, we have closely studied Gen Z for several years with the mission to understand and harness the incredible potential of Gen Z. At a population of 2.5 billion, Generation Z are our present – and future – consumer.

Our new White Paper shares vital insights, including eleven key traits, on how this nuanced, connected and extraordinary generation is influencing ad spend and – literally – shaping the future of media.

How do you define Gen Z and their impact on the market?

Born between 1997-2012, Gen Z are aged between 10 to 26 years old. They’re humanity’s first generation born into the digital age – the youngest of the cohort were born the year Facebook announced it was a mobile-first firm. Being digital natives and connected is fundamental to who they are. The virtual and In Real Life (IRL) co-exist seamlessly, fluidly, without borders. They pride themselves on being ‘phygital’ (physical-digital) natives.

The older Gen Z are entering the workplace, ramping up their ability to earn money and leaning into consumer spending. With increased financial firepower this cohort is set to really influence the contour of meaningful media experiences.

Understanding the right way to connect with modern youth – from their digital journey to IRL experiences – in the right context, with the right content is fundamental for brands to create meaningful media experiences for effective engagement.

What are some of the key takeaways of this White Paper?

Our White Paper essentially has two parts. The first part seeks to understand the context in which Generation Z lives. For example, we identified ‘6C’s’ – Conflict, Credit Crises, Covid, Climate Change, Collaboration and Connection – which have collectively played a role in shaping modern youth. We also dig down into their ‘mamas and papas’, exploring the massive influence the parents of Generation Z – called Generation X (born between 1965-1985) – have had on their children. From media explosion to paths to tolerance, we were fascinated to uncover a host of similarities, in the context and media experiences, between the two generations.

We also identified eleven key traits which we believe contribute to shaping today’s Gen Z. Understanding how the traits knit together in any one context is fundamental to track their digital journey and touchpoints to forge meaningful connections and create media experiences which engage to win attention.

What was the most surprising insight from your research?

Their ability to multi-task and multi-screen effectively really shapes communications to this generation! They’re whip smart at accessing media and assimilating content rapidly – they’re amazing! Due to these skills, they have a seamless ability to diagnose a problem and create the solution. Gen Z’s ability to ‘self-teach’ for every aspect of their life is also surprising and impressive in equal measure.

How can communications’ professionals engage with this demographic most effectively?

The digital layer in which Gen Z has been raised is fundamental to how they experience life. Gen Z’s coming of age is against the backdrop of relentless technological innovation with round-the-clock internet access and 24/7 connectivity. From the natural assimilation of gaming into their daily lives to music as this generation’s number one passion and social media as the portal for media experiences, media really IS their life.

For this highly nuanced generation, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach but a multifaceted one which embraces the subtleties of Gen Z. Understanding how to meet them in the media spaces which matter to them, including around ‘digital campfires’, will deliver real opportunities for business and brands to connect with this complex generation.

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Find the full report here.

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