The oldest members of the generation that follows Millennials are college age.
Let that sink in for a moment.
They follow the peer group that Americans love to bash for being entitled and instant-gratification-seeking. Some are legal to drink in the U.S. A good number of them are old enough to vote. The vanguard of this group just got a job at your company and one day may be your boss, if they didn’t start the company themselves.
Yet this cohort is largely an enigma to most people. Some call them GenZ or post-Millennials. There isn’t even a nickname that everyone agrees on for them. That’s about to change.
Ipsos calls them iGen and defines them as people born in 1996 and later. There are several hallmarks of this generation that are critical for brands to employers to understand. From U.S. and global studies conducted by Ipsos, here are a few highlights:
Less cynical than Millennials
iGens have broken a pattern of declining trust by GenX-ers and Millennials, according to an Ipsos Mori reanalysis of the General Social Survey. About a quarter (26%) say most people can be trusted. Although that figure is lower than other age groups now, it’s higher than Millennials at the same age.
“I remember that GenX distrusted officials and politicians because they saw their parents who worked for a long period of time and then they got get laid off,” says Janet Oak, senior vice president-deputy head of media development at Ipsos. This oldest of this cohort came of age in the dawn of the Gig Economy, where more people freelance across job opportunities or start their own businesses. “They don’t have the same distrust of corporations because there isn’t the same feeling that you’ll be in a job for 30 years or so,” says Oak.
For brands, trust relates to authenticity and quality. She says kids are behind the comeback of the Patagonia brand because it is from nature and it supports nature. They’ll avoid spending on brands that work against causes they believe in, according to Ipsos Corporate Generations Research. “GenZ individuals are socially conscious and want products that are for them and can connect in a very real way,” says Oak.
News doesn’t equal news media
iGens don’t have a good opinion of the news media. Two in five youth between ages 13 and 24 have an unfavorable view of the press, according to an Ipsos poll on behalf of USA Today. Oak thinks it’s less about accusations about fake news and more about indifference.
“They define news differently than we do,” she says. “What is news is information. They get their news from Twitter, from memes, from friends who text and group chat.”
Mobile first for better or worse
Since this is the mobile-first generation, it’s natural that iGens live on their phones. Getting a phone is one of the biggest moments in their lives behind graduating from school and getting their driver’s license, according to Ipsos research on behalf of Google. And they’re getting phones as early as age 12. Most spend more than three hours a day on their phones watching mobile video. Two of three shop online and more than half are doing so on their phones. They also prefer to connect with others by text, then mobile apps, then in person. That doesn’t prevent them from getting bullied, though. Two-thirds of young people are cyber-bullied by classmates, say parents in an Ipsos Global Advisor survey.
Young people also aren’t drinking alcohol, smoking, using drugs or having sex as much as the generations before them. Nor do they stress about it. In the U.K., seven in 10 teens think smoking pot is very risky, compared to 84% of Millennial teens in 2004, according to data in the Ipsos Mori Young People Omnibus. There are similar patterns with adolescent views on unprotected sex, walking alone at night and smoking.
This may be because iGen is more socially reclusive, says Oak. “Because they’re on social media they’re not in face-to-face situations as much.” But it also comes from more pragmatic parenting. “iGen see their parents more as friends, they have closer relationships and they have more discussions about repercussions around risky behavior,” says Oak. “It’s more of an exchange about it and less of a thrill with going behind your parents back.”