Gen Z: they’re the hot new demo, but they remain somewhat misunderstood. Bustle showed up at our Aria Sky Suite on Day Three of CES 2019 to shed a little more light on this vital demographic, thanks to a study of 1,000 kids 18-34 (broadened out beyond the demo to distinguish Gen Z from Millennials). And though the correlation to CES may not have been super-high, this is a cohort that will come into its own very comfortable with the future-leaning tech that’s being talked about today.

Bustle, which drew headlines last year with its purchase of Gawker (it will relaunch this year), wants to build a modern version of Hearst or Condé Nast, explained CRO Jason Wagenheim, who introduced the research. Senior director of research and consumer insights Jessie Tarlov then provided us with a first-ever peek at the insights. Because it hasn’t been formally announced, we’ll talk about it here in broad strokes.

First off, Gen Z’s been described as “digital natives”—but it’s unclear what that means besides growing up with devices. The bottom line, noted Tarlov, is they define themselves as “commonly uncommon.”

Tarlov ID’ed four groups that Gen Z generally falls into:

  • Most traditional, with a strong sense of family values, who want to do better than their parents. They’re more likely to get married, are fundamentally liberal, and are truth-seekers. Marketers need to be serious and encourage them to take action.
  • Politically engaged, entrepreneurial, who aren’t looking for mentors but still will listen to leaders who can pave the way for them. They’re more likely to be influencers than to follow influencers. Marketers willing to rally around social justice messages will appeal them.
  • Most upwardly mobile group that’s politically active and concerned about leaving the world a better place for future generations. Marketers need to show them messages about beating the odds.
  • Independent artists and creatives, influenced by movies like The Breakfast Club. Nothing shocks them anymore. Marketers should break the mold of traditional messaging to reach them.

The bottom line is, Gen Z is dramatically different than any generation before it. You can’t just treat them like millennials on steroids. They may be more worldly wise (thanks, Internet!) at young ages, but they’re also more inclusive and interdependent. Get your message wrong to them, and you’re likely to lose their attention.

More details to come. Now go hug your kids if you’ve got them.

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