Gen Z: Driving Diversity Revolution

Christian Ward.png

We're delighted to present a guest blog post from Youth Marketing Strategy media partner Stylus. In this piece we hear from Christian Ward, Senior Editor of Media & Marketing. Read on for his insights: 

As the CEO of AwesomenessTV commented at the MIPTV conference last year, Gen Z may be “the most influential audience ever, more so than millennials”. The first generation to be ‘born on the web’, they’re busy building an entirely new cultural landscape, creating perhaps the first global generation gap since the Sixties (having a Twitch channel is as incomprehensible to grown-ups now as being into the Stones was back then).

The consequences for brands are many and profound, but I’m going to concentrate on one particularly important trend. More so than millennials, Gen Z are curators. They are interested in creating a compelling and expressive persona online, and are actively seeking diversity of thought and perspectives to fuel this act of digital self-definition.

If you’re not projecting an image of inclusivity, diversity and transparency, your business won’t resonate with this age group.

As a result, they don’t think of themselves in demographic terms (even as we label them Gen Z!) They curate themselves using influences from all cultures, age groups, eras and genders – revealing a “no normal” mindset, as Marketing Magazine described it last year. As such, they respond to brands with a similar approach to media and marketing. If you’re not projecting an image of inclusivity, diversity and transparency, your business won’t resonate with this age group.

We’re seeing the impact of this attitudinal shift across industries – from entertainment and advertising to fashion and retail. The second highest-grossing movie of 2015 was Furious 7, a film with a hugely diverse cast: 75% of its North American audience was non-Caucasian. Alongside the more diverse casting of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mad Max: Fury Road and the forthcoming all-female Ghostbusters, Furious 7 proves Hollywood has woken up to film-goers’ desire to see themselves more realistically reflected on screen.

Jaden Smith's latest campaign for Louis Vuitton's womenswear marks the beginning of a 'sexually fluid revolution'. 

Jaden Smith's latest campaign for Louis Vuitton's womenswear marks the beginning of a 'sexually fluid revolution'. 

But this is really the tip of the iceberg. The ‘no normal’ generation is a fluid one, reflecting the fact that their daily environment is one where digital and real are increasingly blurred. In fashion, for example, we’re seeing the impact of a group of Gen Z influencers rejecting binary gender labels, including 17-year-old Jaden Smith, who features as a model for Louis Vuitton’s latest womenswear collection. We’re in the midst of what Dazed recently dubbed a “sexually fluid revolution”: half of young people in the UK don’t identify as straight, according to a recent YouGov poll.

Similarly, as Gen Z enter the workforce, we’ll see an acceleration of millennial desire for more diverse work environments. A recent Deloitte report stated: "Millennials yearn for acceptance of their thoughts and opinions, but compared to older generations, they feel it’s unnecessary to downplay their differences in order to get ahead."

As with Gen Z, millennials are comfortable connecting across people and platforms. "Millennials are refusing to check their identities at the doors of organisations today, and they strongly believe these characteristics bring value to business outcomes and impact,” the Deloitte report concludes.

If that’s the case with millennials, it’s even more so with the generation following them into work in the next few years. Gen Z will be even less tolerant of organisations where diversity of attitudes, ideas and personalities is not embraced.

These attitudes will have a big impact on how your business engages with the next generation of consumers. The ‘born on the web’ generation are rewriting the rules and driving some provocative changes in social and cultural attitudes. It’s time to join the ‘no normal’ revolution.

Stylus is a media partner for Voxburner's latest event, Youth Marketing Strategy London 2016.

To find out more about Stylus, head over to the Stylus website.

Haven't gotten your tickets for YMS LDN 2016 yet? Head on over to our event page for more information on the biggest youth marketing conference in Europe.

Use the code STYLUS15 and get 15% off your ticket