Willow Smith

Willow SmithWillow Smith

We've only just gotten our head around the fact that we (all those born between 1982 and 2004) are the millennial generation and everything that that encompasses. But are millennials already has-beens? A new generation is coming up through the ranks and they're headed straight for us. 

They are known as Generation Z. Aged 13-24 (yes really!), Gen Z are way more woke, politically active and engaged, comfortable with their sexuality and the fluidness of it, more likely to talk about mental health, healthier and less likely to drink and smoke than you. Cool, so basically us 2.0 then.  

A think tank run by this generation (see, we told you they were socially active) has produced a 400-page document called 'The Irregular Report' which covers everything you didn't know about young people these days. Side note - Can we just take a minute to appreciate the fact that they are involved in think tanks already? We were (read: still are) barely functioning humans at that age and were way more concerned with our weekend outfits for Wezz and Coppers. In fact, we're exhausted just thinking about it.  

5 Things You Can Learn from The Irregular Report

1 Gen Z's impact on everything from politics, to music, advertising, retail and religion should not be underestimated. They are leading the trends and brands look to them for guidance, rather than the other way round. Millennials have a similar influence currently but Gen Z are way ahead and are shaping future cultural trends.

2 They are actively (that word again) seeking the things that they find interesting and engaging and are not blindsided by gloss, branding or marketing. In fact, the buzzword for Gen Z is 'authenticity'...and yes, they'll know if you're being #fakewoke to get them on side. 

3 Speaking of authenticity, Gen Z are curating their on and offline lives. Sure, they're invested in their social media personalities but unlike millennials, it's more about what you do and believe, rather than about how you look. Using your online presence to garner awareness for the causes you believe in is the way forward. We can see this from young activists like 18-year-old Emma Gonzalez in regards to gun control in the US and on a national level in Ireland, movements like the #Ibelieveher, post the Belfast trial. The sincerity and efficacy of this activism should not be underestimated just because it is online. People of this age have grown up with the internet and it is how they share information and also how they initiate change. it can be hard to comprehend for those of us who remember a time before Google, but it's immediacy and engagement does not make it any less real, than if it were reported in the newspapers. 

4 A result of this quick and constant access to information though means that news and trends, travel faster than ever. The shelf life of a movement or brand has the potential to burn bright and die, all before it reaches mainstream media. In relation to retail or brands, longevity and establishment is something that needs to be earned, not just accepted as status quo. In one way they are the most ruthless generation yet and aren't afraid of entering into business without going down the usual route. We can only applaud 18-year-old magazine editor Elsie when she compares the relationship between her peers and the typical business models, "We have to be double agents, speaking Gen Z and corporation. We need money to run things, so we need to milk the cow." Oh how we envy the confidence of youth. 

5 They are not here for your narrative. Gen Z want to see people, stories and brands that they can relate to and that they know to be true. That means a less Westernised version of events on tv, movies, ads and other forms of media. They welcome all cultures, ethnicities, religions, shapes and sizes and want to see that melting pot approach mirrored in the media. Big commercial entities like Nike, Starbucks and Facebook don't hold much pull for them, while smaller niche brands will undoubtedly be lauded. 

And if you're still wearing millennial pink? Awkward. Gen Z yellow is where it's at. Yes really, they even have a new colour palette you're not yet aware of. Why do we suddenly feel like we're never going to be 'down with the kids' again?