The content for the report features:
- Online identity research, such as social media profile analysis, instas/finstas comparison interviews, and Pinterest identity boards gave us a less-filtered look at proclaimed online identities.
- Learnings from a national mobile appnography allowed us to get an intimate, in-the-moment diary of Gen Z when they were alone with their devices, including a small quantitative study (n=388).
- National Tinder analysis gave us a deeper look at the romantic lives of Gen Z: how they position their identity in pursuit of emotional and physical connections, and what they’re seeking from others.
- Reimagined Gen Z focus groups were led by Gen Z student researchers, among young adults aged 18-22. This allowed us to better see Gen Z research hang-ups in action, relationship to research, and their posturing to peers. Focus groups were conducted in Norman, Okla., (n= 76), among Gen Z kids aged 11-22, and in Fullerton, Calif. (n=17).
- Gen Z creative thinkers/film-makers were tapped to show us who Gen Z is through their eyes. This enabled us to see thoughts and feelings, which are sometimes hard to articulate, as they come to life.
- Interviews with 17 first-line experts across the country, including teachers, coaches, Bible-study instructors, therapists, school counselors, match specialists from at-risk youth programs, pediatricians and more, gave perspective from those who interact with Gen Z in the real world rather than in a research setting.
- Insight on Gen Z consumers from their favorite brands and companies, including how everyone from Disney to BuzzFeed understands this generation, and how they see this new cohort changing their industries.
The scope of our research went well beyond wealthy, urban Caucasian respondents to include members of often-ignored groups across gender, orientation, income and ethnic lines. Although we spoke to those with insight into Latinx, LGBT, Native American, at-risk and first-generation communities, we recognize that this research should be used directionally, as it is still only-somewhat representative of this generation at-large.
Gen Z shifts their identity between the realness of Snapchat to the feigned perfection of Instagram, aiming to show the side of themselves they want to highlight at that moment. Their identity shifts into a position of power online. They’ve taken note of the keys to success from start-up brands and influencers; social media is a place to start your empire by building your personal brand. While juggling the imperfect self and the personal brand of You isn’t easy, they’re convinced there is a reward to it—status and power and more await.
It's less of a blatant contradiction and more of a massaging of who they are ...these kids are very savvy in manipulating how they present different fronts on different platforms ...they're expert curators in how they present an identity where and who your audience is and what they see.
— Digital media anthropologist, Los Angeles, on this generation's behaviors and attitudes
Social media makes me feel superior.
— High school respondent, Oklahoma