The edge of seventeen

20 Dec 2016|Added Value

After we’ve just about got to grips with Millennials, a new group is on the horizon; Generation Z. Those born around the millennium are coming of age in 2017. More diverse, complicated and nuanced than ever, this group is already affecting seismic shifts in culture, and as brand consultants we think that these are the people brands need to be marketing to right now.

Teen Vogue’s December op-ed piece ‘Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America’ caught the attention of Twitter and mainstream media recently. Commentators were surprised that such an intellectual article on the danger of trusting the new US president-elect could come from a teen girls fashion magazine. Perhaps they were unaware that Generation Z, the target audience for Teen Vogue today are more attuned than any other generation to the events and machinations of politics and global news today.
Globally minded, Generation Z have defined themselves in opposition to the disorder they see in the world; they are overwhelmingly positive but are pragmatically forward focused. Politically active and hyper aware, they are holding the world to account on issues from homophobia, to gender, to racism, to inequality. They are the drivers of change in our current world.

Powerful and influential, Gen Z are not only globally aware, they are incredibly diverse, if Gen Y were multicultural then Gen Z are completely blended, and they expect to see this reflected in the media they consume and the worlds they inhabit. This expectation of diversity is forcing the generations around them to change their perceptions and ideas.

Intimately connected with technology, this group has never known a life ‘pre-internet’, they are constantly social connected and have an innate understanding of technology and how to use it for their own advantage. These are the first ‘visible teenagers’, we have watched their lives played out on the digital stage, from Facebook to Instagram.

Gen Z are often the early adopters of apps that will later become major global players such as Vine, and Snapchat. Superstars are now made on these apps, there are 13 year olds with 2.5 million followers on; when many of us have only just heard of this platform, Gen Z-ers are ahead of us creating huge cultural and social trends online.

Here in the Cultural Strategy team at Kantar Added Value we are constantly tracking culture, to see where it will turn next, and as the power shifts in the favour of Generation Z, we have a new cohort of cultural transformers to work with.

So who are the Gen Z-ers to keep an eye out for?

1- The Creative Set: Evita Nuh, Troye Sivan, Alessia Cara, Hailee Steinfeld

This group of talented Gen Z-ers range from singers and songwriters to actresses and performers.
Spotlight on: 17 year old fashion blogger Evita Nuh has been hailed as the Jakartan Tavi Gevinson; by age 12 she had already launched her own fashion brand and is a clear example of the independent business minded nature of Gen Z, that when combined with their creativity makes them a force to be reckoned with.


2- The ambitious activists: Amandla Stenberg, Malala Yousafzei, Yara Shahidi, Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh

These young activists are challenging and pushing our political and cultural norms.
Spotlight on: 16 year old indigenous climate change activist Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh is the youth director of Earth Guardians, a group of young activists from across the globe who are stepping up as leaders to create positive change to address climate issues. Admired by the likes of Barack Obama, he exemplifies the global minded nature of all of Gen Z.


3- The tech disrupters: Shubham Banerjee, Ben Pasternak, Mihir Garimella

These tech thinkers are solving problems that innovators 3 times their age can’t solve.
Spotlight on: Inventor Shubham Banerjee is the creator of ‘Braigo’, a Braille printer design that uses commonly available Lego in its components. At the age of 15 he is the youngest person to have received venture capital funding for a start-up. Ingenious and gifted, he demonstrates the inner confidence all Gen Z-ers aspire to have to believe in themselves.


4- The cultural provocateurs: Zendaya, Jaden Smith, Kylie Jenner, James Charles.

A group of talented Gen Z-ers who provoke controversy and push our limits of cultural sensitivity.
Spotlight on: The youngest of the Kardashian clan, 19 year old Kylie Jenner has courted controversy for most of her teenage life. Demonised as the purveyor of selfie culture, her vanity has been seen as emblematic of the shallow nature of Gen Z. She continues to celebrate her look on Instagram, despite the criticism, and symbolises the inner confidence that all Gen Z-ers desire to be their genuine selves.


Written by our UK Cultural Insight team.

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