For all the time spent trying to understand stable truths about Generation Z, a new report suggests that a shifting identity is fundamental to understanding the cohort.

Adaptation is core to understanding Gen-Z according to the L.A-based agency RPA in a new report, Identity shifters: A Gen Z exploration, which WARC readers can access. Based on the responses of more than 1000 people, through social media identity research, a mobile ethnography, and Tinder analysis, alongside focus groups, the research provides a portrait of a generation that sees traditional milestones as flexible. Here are the 10 key takeaways.

  1. They shift their identities depending on the situation. Brands should too.
    Brands ought to enable more a more flexible identity than the culture of strict rules has allowed. “A static brand will miss out on opportunities to personalize, dimensionalize and create new connection points with a generation that does not want to be tied down.”
  2. Leverage the power of group dynamics.
    According to the report, situational correctness, the alteration of behaviours according to empathy, is a fundamental part of Gen-Z’s social fabric. Social cues are crucial. Brands have to understand that the group direction, as indicated by certain influencers, is a useful way into the dynamic.
  3. Gen-Z appreciates diversity but doesn’t want to be different.
    Diversity is a core value to the cohort, but difference is to be avoided. Marketing communications should portray diverse groups. Too much difference is uncomfortable for them. There is an opportunity for brands here to present messages to rally around.
  4. Risk standing for something so they don’t have to.
    Despite strong beliefs, sticking your neck on the line risks criticism and rejection. The study suggests Gen-Z is more comfortable when others take a lead. “Brands provide a way to align with various values but with a safe wall between them and personal criticism.” Tolerant and conflict averse, Gen-Z admires messages of personal freedom and choice. “Be for something. Not against.”
  5. Validation: let them know they matter.
    “Brands should recognize Gen-Z on an individual basis. Be intent about showing appreciation and reward them as customers. Give them control over how and when they interact with your brand. Pick up signals to be responsive to individual circumstance. Find ways to show you see and hear them.
  6. Don’t just market your brand. Help Gen-Z market themselves
    Identity is a resource to be monetized. Brands that give Gen-Z a platform to express their personality, humour and interests on a large scale will earn gratitude. Help them gain new followers – they will thank you.
  7. Gen-Z rejects labels – let them be themselves.
    When it comes to personalization, allow for self-selection. Ask how they want to interact with you and let them do it.
  8. Truth matters and so does fiction.
    Fiction can communicate fundamental truths.
  9. Gen-Z is a generation of believers. Help them be doers.
    This generation is rooted in belief but is not great at doing – they are only kids to be fair. Provide content, memes, and ideas they can use to participate in conversations, and give them a sense that their beliefs can lead to action.
  10. Don’t market to who they are, market to who they want to be.
    Aid their aspirations to self-improvement by thinking about where the audience wants to be and how it wants to be seen, not what it currently is.

Sourced from RPA