Stories about the way Gen Z makes members of older generations feel confused, out-of-touch and cheugy have grabbed headlines over the past few years.
What Gen Z likes and dislikes doesn’t have to be some elusive truth that is always slightly out of reach. Though it’s impossible to capture all the nuanced opinions and feelings that shape the way all young people age 9 to 24 see the world in a few short sentences, a handful of helpful young folks are eager to answer all your questions about what’s going on in their specific worlds, and how growing up in the past few decades shaped their view of trends.
Day One Agency (D1A), a creative communications agency that has worked with beloved brands like Chipotle and Nike, launched a project called AskGenZ.com, which serves as a hub for brands (and individual people) interested in how Gen Z works.
Victoria Gates-Fleming, VP of Digital Strategy and Creative Insights at Day One Agency, told In The Know there’s a rush to understand Gen Z for a number of reasons. The generation isn’t just the newest one on the block — they’re also the first batch of “digital natives,” many of whom grew up with constant internet access.
“They are so connected. It kind of scares me how much access they have to things versus what [Millennials] did when we were younger … with AOL and MySpace,” she explained. “It’s really positioned Gen Z as the forefront of what’s trending and what’s happening in culture. I think it’s kind of scary to some people.”
She said Gen Z craves transparency, for one. When coupled with the staunch realism that comes from easy access to information about the world (and the experience of missing out on formative life events due to the COVID-19 pandemic) as well a remarkable drive to learn and hustle and hack things, they can be a bit intimidating.
That doesn’t mean they don’t want to be understood.
“I think Gen Z really wants to be understood more. There’s a lot of words that are just emblazoned on them … people like to bucket things. I think it all boils down to the shock of the new,” Gates-Fleming said. “The comparison from having to watch this generation grow up so publicly can breed insecurity.”
She noted that a lot of our current understanding of Gen Z comes from whether or not they have declared something uncool and loses track of the fact that when Millennials, Gen X-ers and other generations were younger, they did the same thing — now we’re just seeing that manifest with skinny jeans and the crying-laughing emoji.
“I think what it boils down to is the shock of the new. Millennials are realizing their own age … and a lot of content creators, especially on TikTok, are Gen Z while Millennials are lurkers,” she said. “That can be a rude awakening,” she added.
And those Gen Z experts answering your questions about the ins and outs of culture? They’re real employees at Day One.
“We couldn’t really be experts in Gen Z if we didn’t have a ton of Gen Z [employees],” she said. “We’re extremely interested in Gen Z employees because they’re obviously the experts … I even hired through TikTok as well.”
So, how does the website work? Simply head to the website, submit your question and wait up to 24 hours for a respondent (or a few) to share their “wisdom” with you via email.
All questions and answers also live on the site for reference, so you can dig through the archive and immerse yourself in Gen Z trends.
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If you enjoyed this story, decode and demystify Gen Z’s latest online slang terms with In The Know’s new glossary.
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