Wunderman Thompson Intelligence presents “Generation Z: Building a Better Normal,” a new trend report that explores how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting generation Z’s aspirations, expectations and mindsets.

Download the full “Generation Z: Building a Better Normal” report:

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Image courtesy of Anya Dillard

Over the past five years, generation Z have come into their own. They’ve graduated high school, earned college degrees, started their own businesses, planned marches, confronted international leaders, and taken the global sociopolitical stage by storm—all while setting the pace of popular culture. But as they’ve aged, the precocious awareness and dogged drive that set them apart from their millennial predecessors has evolved from a cool pragmatism into a seething anger at the world they’re inheriting.

And now, they are stepping into adulthood amid a global pandemic.

Equipped with an endless catalogue of digital tools, a formal education—they’re on track to become the most educated generation in history—a seasoned worldview and a stoked fury, the members of generation Z are no longer content to sit back and watch as mistakes are repeated and injustices perpetuated.

So what comes next? “Generation Z: Building a Better Normal” explores how generation Z are rewriting traditional identity narratives, molding new metrics for success and reshaping the boundaries of consumption—all in the pursuit of building a better normal.

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Yasukuni Nobutani, 21, Tokyo
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Anya Dillard, 17, New Jersey

The report covers generation Z’s shifting approach to key topics including careers, identity, community, activism and brands. For a deep dive into generation Z’s perspective, the report features 13 bespoke interviews with members of this outspoken cohort from around the world, ranging from a 21-year-old student-cum-entrepreneur in Tokyo, to an 18-year-old Argentinian student reconsidering her plan of study, to a 17-year-old activist and non-profit founder in New Jersey.

To better understand generation Z’s attitudes and outlooks in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the report analyzes original data commissioned by Wunderman Thompson Data, collected from 1,000 16-24 year-olds across the United States from October 16-26, 2020.

Key findings include:

  • 85% of gen Zers believe brands should be about something more than profit
  • 60% agree that their choice in brands is an expression of who they are
  • 73% want a brand that understands them
  • 77% don’t want to be put in a box
  • 70% would rather do something meaningful than make a lot of money
  • 83% have a newfound appreciation for in-person interactions as a result of the pandemic
  • 65% consider themselves to be savers rather than spenders
  • 75% believe that their generation will change the world
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The Fandangoe Kid, London Design Festival

For a generation that has grown up habituated to finding its footing on uneven ground, the pandemic is serving as a lightning rod rather than an agitator, accelerating the cultural metamorphosis that generation Z is so urgently pursuing. This adaptive, innovative, and impassioned generation that is constantly reinventing itself now has the chance to reinvent the world in its image—and gen Zers are calling on brands, governments, and leaders to help them build a better normal.

Download the full “Generation Z: Building a Better Normal” report:

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