This year Gen Z—people aged 16-22—becomes the largest generation globally, surpassing even millennials. To celebrate this milestone, Snap, Inc. partnered with GlobalWebIndex to explore what makes Gen Z tick.

The study surveyed a sample of over 79,000 internet users between the ages of 16-22 in 45 markets to help debunk stereotypes about Gen Z and uncover trends in digital behavior for these digital natives.

Getting to know Gen Z

Let’s get dig right into what characterizes and differentiates this group of young people.

Generation Z is more ethnically diverse than past generations. They’re less likely to consume alcohol when compared with millennials and baby boomers and they are interested in keeping healthy. When asked if they drink alcohol once a week, about 15% of Gen Z respondents indicated they did versus 28% of millennials and 36% of baby boomers. Fully 24% of respondents aged 18-22 said they never drink alcohol at all.

people who drink alcohol at least once a week in gen z, millennials, baby boomers
Data Source: Snap/GlobalWebIndex

Health is a big priority for Gen Z, with over half of survey respondents indicating that they run or jog every week and over a third indicating they purchased a health-related food product in the last month.

Like millennials before them, Gen Z are entrepreneurial, with 29% indicating they’re interested in entrepreneurship versus 13% of Baby Boomers and 23% of Gen X.

interest in entrepreneurship between generations, gen z, millennials, baby boomers, gen x
Image Source: Snap/GlobalWebIndex

Cable’s not dead yet, with Gen Z watching a bit less than 1.5 hours of network TV a day (30 minutes below the global average).

Their outlook on the environment is somewhat worse than millennials, with 27% Gen Z disagreeing with the statement, “I feel positive about the future of the environment” versus 22% of millennials. Of course, that means that 73% of Gen Z agrees with that statement so I guess it’s not all doom (Read more...) gloom (ah, the optimism of youth).

Growing commercial importance

While the majority of Gen Z (63%) still live with their parents and just over 60% are students (including those studying for an undergraduate degree), they do have buying power and this continues to grow.

More than half of Gen Z indicated they have some type of savings and 37% are working either full-time, part-time or are self-employed.

work status between generations
Image Source: Snap/GlobalWebIndex

Certain Gen Z characteristics vary based on geographic location. While the majority (60%) of Gen Z lives in urban areas, Australian and U.S. Gen Z’ers are more likely to live in suburban areas—an important distinction depending on what market you’re targeting.


living context, urban, suburban, or rural, of Gen Z
Image Source: Snap/GlobalWebIndex

It’s important for brands who want to connect with this generation to understand what motivates them. They are ambitious, idealistic, and opportunistic. Having grown up in a perpetually connected environment, Gen Z is accustomed to having all the knowledge they could ever want at their fingertips.

As such, 77% of respondents indicated it was important to be well informed about things and nearly 80% indicated that it’s important to develop new skills throughout life.

Here are some key statistics from the Snap/GlobalWebIndex report that helps clarify what Gen Z truly cares about.

  • 77% value taking advantage of opportunities when they arise
  • 74% believe we should all strive for equality
  • 74% indicated that family is the most important thing in their lives (I love these kids!)

Like most young people, Gen Z places a high value on the opinions of their peers, with 73% of those surveyed indicating they feel it’s important to be respected by peers.

About 2 in 5 respondents indicated they’re easily influenced by other people’s opinions (17% higher than the global average). How can they achieve this? By standing out in a crowd, with nearly half of respondents indicating they are risk takers and over 60% saying they want to pursue challenges, novelty and change throughout their lives.

Even so, Gen Z likes a certain level of conformity—with 47% of respondents indicating they like to keep up with fashion trends and 41% admitting they are easily swayed by other people’s opinions.

The always-on generation

64% of Gen Z respondents say they’re constantly online and more than half are more insecure without their phone versus their wallet (my teenage daughter doesn’t even carry a wallet; she tucks her credit card into her phone case).

Gen Z loves their media, with music, films, and gaming all featuring into their top five interests. At the top of this list is music, with 69% of respondents indicating this is a top interest. Depending on the region, the percentage is even greater (82% of respondents in Latin America indicated music was their top interest).

top five interests of gen Z: music, films, food and drink, gaming, technology
Top 5 interests of Gen Z—Image Source: Snap/GlobalWebIndex

As a whole, Gen Z is more interested in “experiential” activities than millennials, with 30% of respondents indicating they are more likely to be interested in urban/modern art versus 25% of millennials and 28% more interested in adventure/extreme sports versus 25% of millennials.

Interestingly, while Gen Z is accustomed to being online all the time, they’re slightly less enthusiastic about technology then their millennial peers. When asked if it was critical that they be accessible at all times, 59% of Gen Z respondents said yes versus 63% of millennials.

Half of Gen Z respondents indicated that having the latest technology was important to them versus 55% of millennials.

The issue of choice fatigue—too much choice online—is growing with this Gen Z, with 67% of respondents indicating there is too much choice in things like subscription and streaming services.

The smartphone generation

Almost all (97%) of the nearly 80,000 respondents in this survey indicated they own a smartphone.

Take a moment to let that sink in.

This is a generation that is always tethered to the world at large by their devices—and that is truly what differentiates them from past generations. It’s not just phones either, nearly 70% of respondents indicated they own a laptop or PC and 30% own tablets. Other devices this generation owns include: gaming consoles, feature phones, TV streaming sticks, smartwatches, e-readers, smart wristbands, and VR devices.

Given the widespread ownership of smartphones in this demographic, it makes sense that the importance of this device has increased from 47% in 2015 to 78% in 2018. Gen Z spends an average of 4 hours and 15 minutes on their phones each day, but multi-device usage is the norm—Gen Z accesses the internet using multiple screens.

Key takeaways for marketers

Marketers who want to reach this generation must optimize their approach to digital media so that they can reach Gen Z across devices and screen types. Authenticity and originality really matter with this group of digital-savvy natives. Finally, expectations are high with Gen Z in terms of having a seamless online experience from brands—it’s extremely important that you get your digital act together.

This study is incredibly data heavy with many statistics that provide marketers with insight into what motivates and inspires Gen Z and this post only covers a portion of it.

In part two, we’ll review device ownership and usage in more detail, cover specific online activities important to this population, delve into Gen Z’s privacy behaviors and unpack more details about media consumption, content patterns, and purchasing behaviors.

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