February 27, 2020  |  Jamie Matusek

The Scrolling Generation: What Communications Professionals Should Know About Gen Z

A new generation has emerged impacting marketing, communications, brand loyalty, and purchasing power across the globe. Generation Z (Gen Z) represents the largest group of consumers on the planet with 93 percent of household purchases being influenced by them.1  

So who are they and why is it important for brands to understand the key differences in this generation compared to their predecessors? (Millennials, GenX, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation)  

We’re here to help uncover the mysteries to strengthen your public relations and marketing strategies for a new decade. Whether you lead an emerging or established nonprofit, a healthcare practice, or are launching the latest in tech, this generation will impact your business.

Who are they? 

Gen Z are those born between 1996 and 2010. There are defining differences that are driving new communications approaches from brands. Understanding a bit about their history helps to shape important shifts in communications. 

  • Diverse: Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation, growing up with key changes in culture.2
  • Connected: the first generation to be born with smart devices “in hand.” This is the first generation that does not remember a time before smartphones or social media.  
  • Conflict: this generation has witnessed terrorist attacks on American soil, school shootings, and other catastrophic events impacting their age group – and leading to a desire for cultural support and changes.

The Center for Generational Kinetics specializes in generational research and highlights this generation was parented differently to ensure they didn’t end up like “entitled millennials.” Also of note, finances are important with many interested in entrepreneurship and building successful careers with multiple streams of income to ensure they are debt-free and able to funnel funds to social causes that are important to them. 

Gen Z uses social media as a main source of news. To them, it is just “media” as they didn’t grow up watching news on other channels. In the study by The Center for Generational Kinetics, titled The State of Gen Z, this audience group uses social media platforms based on specific situations and interactions: Gen Z uses Instagram to follow brands, Snapchat to post or send a video or a photo, and Facebook to create or check a group event. 

This generation is always online, providing a great way for organizations to connect with them. It is important for companies to be authentic in their communications and ads. Using stories to create an emotional appeal is imperative to catch the eye of this “scrolling” generation.  

Gen Zers read ratings and reviews prior to making purchases and also leave reviews to share their experiences. They trust their peers more than marketers, which offers organizations a great opportunity to establish a marketing strategy that aligns with Gen Z members through authentic messaging. 

Multiple studies indicate that this generation has a desire to give back, which is key for nonprofit organizations desiring to attract attention from the younger audience base.3 They are interested in working for and giving to organizations that are creating change and making an impact on a local and global basis. Volunteering is also important to this audience group, as well as supporting select causes that they feel a personal connection to. 

Gen Z is an audience to follow. New research will continue to surface on how to understand where they are online and how to connect. As a business leader, ensuring you are outlining key strategies targeting this audience group on social media, and their mobile devices, will continue to be a driving force for success. 


1. June 2017. EN GARDE, Introducing Generation Z, von Mariana Jörg. https://www.engarde.net/introducing-generation-z/#.XkRNAlNKiu4

2. November 15, 2018. PewInternet. Early Benchmarks Show ‘Post-Millennials’ on Track to Be Most Diverse, Best-Educated Generation Yet. Richard Fry and Kim Parker. https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/11/15/early-benchmarks-show-post-millennials-on-track-to-be-most-diverse-best-educated-generation-yet/ 

3. March 11, 2019. Philanthropy Journal. Why GenZ is compelled to do good. Krystin Gollihue. https://pj.news.chass.ncsu.edu/2019/03/11/why-gen-z-is-compelled-to-do-good/

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