From sexuality to star signs, Gen Z self-identifies in more ways than older consumers. Here’s what brands need to know to activate on the many ways America’s youngest consumers self-identify.
Gen Z has grown up in an increasingly diverse and polarized America. At the same time, social media continues to generate new universes of micro-communities, each creating new ways to self-identify. As a result, these young consumers embrace more and more what makes them different, as individuals, rather than what makes them the same as everyone around them.
Given the vast landscape of identities open to Gen Z, it is essential for brands to understand what, if anything, these young consumers do hold in common. Here are some key insights to get you started:
1. Gen Z is the most self-aware of its status as a “generation”.
All individuals born from 1997 through 2012 can claim membership in Generation Z. which follows Generation Y, or the “Millennial” Generation. While there is not yet final consensus on whether Gen Z will receive such a title, we see tremendous interest within the generation in using whatever words are available for self-identification. Almost half of Gen Z consumers use their generational identity to describe themselves to others, with statistically significant differences from each of the other generational segments. With phrases like “ok boomer” and “zoomer humor” ever-present in the Gen Z lexicon, generational identity is very real for these youngest of adult consumers.
2. Gen Z is most likely to think sexuality is important to identity.
Today’s young consumers live in a world which not only accepts sexual identity, but also encourages individuals to celebrate and explore their own sexuality. Gen Z is the most likely generation to identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. And 1 in 5 Gen Z consumers say that sexuality is one of the most important aspects of their identities for self-description, with statistically significant differences from each of the other generational segments. Understanding the LGBTQ+ segment will only increase in importance for brands hoping to earn market share with this segment.
3. Gen Z continues the Millennial trend of embracing “alternative” sources of identity – astrology included!
While they’re not likely to be checking the morning papers for their daily horoscopes, roughly 2 in 5 Gen Z and Millennial consumers leverage the Western zodiac as a tool for self-identification. Apps and online resources allow consumers to gain hyper-personalized “insight” into their astrological identities through star charts and compatibility analysis with contacts who also use the same platforms. Additionally, the Gen Z meme ecosystem provides (often humorous) content which reinforces associations between star signs and individual personality. These webs of association also offer plenty of space for brands to make connections with their product offerings.