For generations, brands have relied on their target demographic to keep coming back for more. Relationships between brands and their customers have historically been strong, which means that Gen Z threw quite the curveball when it became clear that brand loyalty wasn’t something they valued with the same allegiance as their predecessors.
“I don’t really focus on brands for clothes. I just look for good looking clothes that fits me well and will last,” said a member of our youth panel, Generation Wattpad. This sentiment was repeatedly echoed by other members. So how does a brand earn an evergreen stamp of approval from Gen Z in 2020?
Being constantly attached to the online world may be a stressful thing for many, but for Gen Z it’s just life as they know it. While older generations may find that constantly being attached to the digital world is exhausting, Gen Z has grown up alongside new and emerging technology -- to the point where being ‘unplugged’ isn’t a reality. The idea of always being reachable may be horrifying for many of us, but while Gen Z do consider themselves stressed, they don’t blame their phones.
But here’s the silver lining: Gen Z already knows they’re stressed out. And now, they’re actively trying to do something about it.
Gen Z is experiencing stress symptoms
According to the American Psychological Association (APA) 91% of Gen Z between the ages of 18 and 21 say that they have experienced at least one physical or emotional symptom due to stress.
So, what exactly is stressing Gen Z out? Well... just about everything.
Generation Wattpad (our voluntary youth panel of 2,000+ Wattpad users) findings state that 89% of Gen Z find themselves stressed out by school / homework, 53% are stressed out by family, 38% are stressed by friends, and 20% are stressed by money and health.
Not a phase but potentially a “lifestyle”
While we all would like to think of stress as a tiny part of our lives, for Gen Z this may not be the case. 68% of Gen Z reported to the APA that they felt significant stress about their future. In America, this has lead to college students being diagnosed with depression and anxiety, which are mental health issues no one just “grows out of.”
What exactly are they doing about it?
The good news is, 75% of Gen Z feel hopeful about their future and 37% are willing to seek professional help in order to improve their mental health. Research from the APA also suggests that creating a strong social network can mitigate the effects of stress and improve overall mental health. These social networks can be online and / or offline. Realistically, they are a mixture of both.
Gen Z knows when it’s time to de-stress.
Almost 90% of Gen Z find themselves de-stressing by reading or writing and 73% indulge in quiet / alone time when they’re feeling overwhelmed. But they aren’t leaving their phones to do it. While Gen Z is looking for ways to de-stress, getting off of their phones isn’t a reality for these digital natives. Their online world offers up plenty of options in which they can escape without putting their phones down. Unsurprisingly, one of those escapes happens to be Wattpad. Our platform gives our users a safe place where they can escape from daily stress by indulging in creative expression or diving into a great story. We call this the ‘positive side’ of social media; wherein an online platform can offer fulfilling and positive experiences - rather than leaving them feeling depressed or anxious.
This is an important trend to note when it comes to Gen Z, as Millennials have a tendency to sort of run themselves into the ground without taking a break. The stress of life can take its toll, which only highlights the importance of knowing when you need a break and why.
How do we know all this?
We asked Generation Wattpad how they feel about stress, what they’re doing to combat it, and how marketers can get on the right side of their online world. Capitalizing on trends, impressions, and popularity may bring about short bursts of engagement but it isn’t effective in creating long-term relationships. Gen Z’s smart approach to their digital engagement should encourage marketers to join the positive side of the online world in order to build a long lasting relationship with these digital natives.
To learn more about our findings, read our latest report “The Joy Of Missing Out - How Gen Z Is Finding Balance In An Upside Down World.”