Gen Z is often considered to be the most engaged, interested and politically aware generation yet – according to our US Youth Trends Report 2021, 74% of Gen Z would describe themselves as activists, 66% as caring and 62% as ethical. According to Eleshea, a member of the Voxburner Academy, “Gen Z is a generation that is very considerate and empathetic and it’s really engaged in social causes.”
But what causes are important to them? Whilst it’s impossible to name them all – after all, this is the most diverse generation yet – we’ve picked a few that are relevant right now, whether that be because of recent socio-political events or based on insights from our Voxburner Academy.
The student experience is a massive part of many young people’s lives, and with that comes a number of issues in relation to their education and overall student experience. In our special edition of our Youth Trends Report, in which we focus on Student Life, our insights revealed that the number one issue for students was the affordability and accessibility of education, with 32% stating it as their priority. 25% said that their safety on campus was their biggest issue, and 18% said reducing student loan debt was their biggest concern.
The safety of students and young people is at an all-time threat, and with an increase in spiking rates and a shortage of Ubers and night tubes, it’s no wonder that young people are crying out for support and reassurance, so much so that young people have taken matters into their own hands and are forming support networks as a way of aiming to guarantee their safety.
Rachel, a student at Edinburgh University, is Head Angel for Urban Angels Edinburgh, an online community that promotes the safety of non-binary people and those who identify as women around the UK. This issue is one that is particularly important to her, and forming these networks is something that she feels strongly about: “At school I was a very outspoken feminist because at the time it wasn’t really recognised, but as the years have gone on, people have realised that equality is the way forward. Working with an organisation to make streets a safer place, doing grassroots work and making changes so that women can feel safe to just be… that’s what I’m most passionate about.”
According to a survey by Bath University, 45% of young people said that their feelings about the climate crisis affect their daily lives, and 56% think humanity is ‘doomed’. It’s no surprise that this generation is so concerned about protecting the planet due to accessibility of information and circulating statistics, and with many brands facing accusations of greenwashing, it often feels like a lost cause to this generation – two-thirds reportedly feeling scared, anxious and afraid. But one of the best things about this generation? They won’t give up on fighting for what they believe in.
Representation and inclusivity
We all know that Gen Z is the most diverse generation yet, and they demand (and deserve) to see this represented in everything that they consume, including the brands they love and the campaigns they see. Eleshea, who spoke on our VXB+ Youth Trends panel, says that one of the most important things we can do is to “[improve] access for spaces to minority groups and ensuring that everyone has fair access and is represented in places that they might not traditionally see themselves in.” And it doesn’t just benefit your consumers – according to our UK Youth Trends Report 2021, 87% of Gen Z said they’d take positive action to support a brand if they felt represented in their marketing.
Meanwhile, Phoebe, a student at Edinburgh University, argues that we need to reach a point where inclusivity isn’t forced, it just is: “It’s really important to make queer people feel comfortable, and representation really is key. Getting to the point where representation feels normal – sometimes it can feel a bit clunky – we just need to push that as much as possible.”
Want some examples of brands/individuals who are doing great work on promoting inclusivity and raising awareness? Check out VSCO, ASOS and Black At…
Health and wellbeing
Gen Z is determined to make their mental and physical health a priority. From drinking less (according to our insights, 29% of students never go to a pub or nightclub and only 8% go several times a week) to getting up early in order to have a productive day (check out the #thatgirl trend on TikTok), this generation really cares about their wellbeing.
Ella, a young person who spoke on our Youth Trends panel, says that Gen Z understands the impact that your mental health can have on the rest of your life: “Growing up it was more about physical health, but I think how our wellbeing can affect our work and stuff has come to the forefront a lot more with me over the past year or so.”
Want more insights on Gen Z? Download our latest reports here.