Fluidity and Honesty: Gen Z and Identity in 2025
As a millennial, I’ve never thought much about Gen Z. Unfortunately for marketers, many brands haven’t thought much about Gen Z either, and Jaclyn Suzuki, Creative Director at Ziba Design thinks that’s a grave mistake.
Gen Z today includes 5 to 20-year-olds, born between 1995 and 2010. 83 million people in the US are Gen Z and they have a unique experience and completely different profile compared to millennials. It is the most ethnically diverse generation in US history and many of these kids are growing up in non-traditional households with dual working parents, older parents and gay parents. What’s more, over 3/4 of teens today feel comfortable having multiple online personas.
“I’m really excited because it’s not just about race or one issue, there are all of these unique things. This has got to be the largest identity departure that we’ve seen from past generations,” Suzuki said.
Suzuki’s talk, Fluidity and Honesty: Gen Z and Identity in 2025,
emphasized that brands and marketers need to get a firmer grasp on Gen Z’s relationship with identity.
“In the past we’ve seen a lot of tension and conflict and pain around identity. I think that has a lot to do with the friction and tension between the individual’s idea of self and society’s idea of self. In contrast, Gen Z is going through a non-identity crisis,” Suzuki said.
Gen Z kids are establishing a more fluid identity structure and it’s affecting how they interact with products and brands. In the 90’s and 2000’s brand relationships skewed more toward the “defines me” side of the spectrum. This was an era of “brand as signal, badge or status.” Today, Suzuki sees a trend toward a concentration of successful brand relationships on the “fits me” side of the spectrum. Brands and products will exist almost as tools and will support the creation of consumers’ own sense of identity. By 2025, Suzuki predicts that both ends of the spectrum will be relevant.
“We will see concentration moving to two extreme ends of the spectrum,” Suzuki said. “We’re going to see brands that are kind of universals on the fits me side and specialties on the defines me side. In this fluid identity era, there’s going to be more interest in differentiating yourself in new ways.”
As Gen Z grows up, the 15-year-olds of today will be the 25-year-olds of 2025, and they will begin thinking about confidence and influence. Their lives will be a little more curated, but product doesn’t define Gen Z as it did past generations. Gen Z will search for simplicity and minimalism in their most commonly used products, and will especially look for products that play nicely with others visually.
“I want us to treat products as ingredients,” Suzuki said. “This will mean putting the logo under the hood, or inside a product.”
Suzuki’s biggest advice for brands to better connect with Gen Z today and tomorrow is “know thyself.” Brands need to really be aware of what they’re offering and how they are adding value to the consumer’s life as a part of their curated identity and culture. This is especially true with tech. By 2025 Gen Z will “curate their own capabilities” via the tech they engage with. Tech will be an avenue to augment their diversity and Gen Z will treat tech as tattoos – as tech as extensions of the self.
— Becca Silvas (@beccasilvas) March 11, 2016