“It’s so hard to see the future right now,” says Maddy, a teenager from New Jersey. “I worry that the world is going to end. I worry because of climate change. I worry about my family’s safety.”
Nancy, 17, is from Boise, Idaho. She rates how excited she is for the future a solid 1 (not at all) on a scale going up to 10. Why? “There’s too much wrong with the world.”
Gen Z’s purported nihilism has become widespread enough. Research studies have looked at a variety of factors, such as the fact that this is the post 9/11 generation that’s been saddled with plenty of student debt, combined with trading information at the speed of light. It’s even commonplace in culture: the theme of “we’re going to die and life is meaningless” can be seen throughout music, in TV and in Internet culture. It’s just one of a growing number of what seems like darkly observed characteristics about this young age cohort, who marketers have dubbed Gen Z.
This mindset has a profound impact on culture, communities and corporations. Generation Z also doesn’t trust easily — and certainly doesn’t trust brands, or governments. It’s the kind of mindset that makes millennials, who want to buy from brands with purpose, seem more like eager consumers. It’s also impacting entertainment, bringing to the forefront artists specializing in emo rap and popularizing dark comedies like “Rick & Morty.” Gen Z brings new challenges for marketing, leading to approaches like Doritos’ “unbranded” ad campaign, tailored, so the company says, for a generation growing up in an era of ad-free content…”