New York, NY — BuzzFeed, the world’s leading digital media company, today released new insights about Gen Z that reveal how to connect with this valuable generation, which BuzzFeed has coined “Generation E.T.C.” per their shared values of Empathy, Truth, and Creation. From a global study including more than 7,000 participants that focused on Gen Z attitudes, values, and consumption habits, BuzzFeed found that difference is this generation’s strongest similarity.
Gen Z, currently those between 8-22 years old, is the largest generation ever, comprising almost 30% of the world’s population, which presents a massive opportunity for brands that can connect with this group effectively. The study found that Gen Z is not simply a more extreme version of Millennials, but rather a distinctly new generation that needs to be understood in its own right and requires new marketing strategies.
The defining trait of Gen Z is their dissimilarity from other generations and from each other. Gen Zs consider themselves to be commonly uncommon, and take pride in their differences: 60% have a passion or interest that is considered niche or alternative by others. They also prioritize individuality. 65% of Gen Zs think that gender, race, and sexuality all exist on a spectrum.
With a generation composed of individuals who all believe themselves to be unique, it poses a new challenge for brands who want to reach the collective generation. BuzzFeed also conducted recent research that explores Gen Z behavior and attitudes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Brands can play a key role during this time: the research found that nearly 56% appreciate brands supporting coverage of COVID-19, with two-thirds thinking brands should step up and do something extra to give back and 65% are more likely to buy from a brand that is helping in some way.
In addition, in the holistic study spanning over 6 months and multiple methodologies, BuzzFeed has found that the key to engaging Gen Z is to cater to the qualities that connect them all: Empathy, Truth, and Creation (E.T.C.).
Empathy, Truth, and Creation are the three fundamental connection points that bring together a generation of “others.” This overarching finding from BuzzFeed’s Gen Z study is also supported by the recent BuzzFeed Gen Z COVID-19 research.
EMPATHY: After a decade dominated by Instagram ideals, Gen Zs prioritize emotional connections and their mental and emotional wellbeing. Gen Zs listed mental health as their top issue, and 55% of Gen Zs agree that everyone should go to therapy.
Gen Z’s need for human connection is further reflected in the age of COVID-19. One third of Gen Zs report that seeing their friends is the first thing they will do once quarantine measures are lifted, which is significantly higher than Millennials and Gen X.
TRUTH: Having grown up in an era of fake news and institutional breakdown, Gen Zs look for what’s “really real” – in culture and in themselves. 75% of Gen Zs agree that they never trust things at face value and instead do their own research, and 70% agree that their generation is taking bigger steps to uncovering the truth.
BuzzFeed’s COVID-19 research affirms Gen Z’s distrust in the information they consume. 40% of Gen Zs think it’s hard to tell what is true and what is false in COVID-19 news reporting, and want to see more content related to the biggest lies and myths around COVID-19, another significantly higher proportion than Millennials and Gen X. Notably, one of the top-performing BuzzFeed News articles among our Gen Z audience debunks hoaxes and misinformation about the coronavirus.
CREATION: Gen Zs are not just creatives—they are creators, who are rebuilding culture from the ground up. Not only are they using digital tools to create and share in new and social ways, but they are also rethinking and recreating social institutions. 90% of Gen Zs say at least one major social institution that was important to previous generations like gender roles or educational status no longer applies, and 55% agree that everything their generation does is outside the box.
BuzzFeed’s latest research finds that amid new COVID-19 circumstances, Gen Zs are spending more time taking self improvement courses online and making art.
BuzzFeed reaches approximately 170 million Gen Zs globally a month and 44% of the Gen Z digital audience in the US. BuzzFeed produces content that super-serves specific identities and sub-identities, which makes it uniquely positioned to cater to this new generation of “others” and connect with different niche audiences through popular formats like quizzes, challenges, long-form interactive shows, animation, and content from relatable Creators. BuzzFeed reaches Gen Z across all social platforms and caters its content to fit how they use each platform. Gen Z makes up 3/4 of BuzzFeed’s Snap audience, half of BuzzFeed’s YouTube audience, and more than 1/3 of BuzzFeed’s Facebook and Instagram audience.
BuzzFeed is the world’s leading tech-powered media company, with a cross-platform news and entertainment network that reaches hundreds of millions of people globally. The company produces articles, lists, quizzes, videos, original series; lifestyle content through brands including Tasty, the world’s largest social food network; original reporting and investigative journalism through BuzzFeed News; strategic partnerships, licensing and product development through BuzzFeed Marketing; and original productions across broadcast, cable, SVOD, film and digital platforms for BuzzFeed Studios.
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