Generation Z is better than any other generation at detecting what is real and authentic, and what is just an ad or product placement. Gen Z choses UGC (user generated content) over celebrity content. Furthermore, there is a misunderstanding that Gen Z has a short attention span – since they grew up on social media like Instagram and Snapchat – but in reality it’s down to how good the content is.

Authentic content is key

Content needs to be authentic, timely and specific to the end-consumer. Brands need to redefine what is good content. Before, high quality production was important. Today real-time, authentic and timely content relate better to the end-consumer. It is even better to have a low production cost in for example Snapchat, as you will swipe through it if it looks too good, because then you will assume it is an ad. Authenticity is really important. Even partnering with the right influencers will raise skepticism. Authentic content is produced with diversity, you need to be able to speak to different people. You also need diversity in your team – to make it genuine and without making things up.

One example is the Instagram account at National Geographic, where photographers choose their own photos and write their own texts.

Young people has always had a voice, but the difference now is that Gen Z have a megaphone behind their voice, and we will need to listen.

- Kyle Wong, CEO and Co-founder of Pixlee

Real influencers have no followers

When it comes to influencers, it has historically been all about the number of followers. Today it’s also about expertise area and competence, as well as closeness/proximity to the listener. An influencer for Gen Z is relatable and aspirational – the influencer should seem as your friend. Someone with a very similar (but of course more fun and interesting) life to yours. More behind the scene looks in their lives.

All about values 

Gen Z cares a lot about personal growth and well-being. Managers will need to develop new skills on how to manage the younger generation, and the importance of offering mentorship, development and growth is rising. Gen Z cares a lot about values and mission driven companies – both when it comes to brands and companies they join. Young people today optimize flexibility, they want to do whatever they want, with whom they want, when they want. Technology has allowed people to scale their time and finding different ways of finding income, which will help shape the next generation of jobs. The desire for financial independence is not new but there are more tools for that today.



At the age of 18, Tiffany Zhong dropped out of UC Berkeley to pursue a full-time job as an analyst and associate at the VC firm Binary Capital. She also founded Zebra Intelligence which is a platform that connects brands to teens for research, user acquisition and brand affinity purposes.

Tiffany Zhong, founder of Zebra Intelligence.  Photo: Joshua Chang


Remote work is the New American Dream 

Gen Z not only wants to make sure they share their values with their future employer. They want more freedom and they want to choose how to plan their days. They prefer remote work to spending every day in an office. Working 9-5 is not an option.

The side hustle generation

Gen Z are ambitious, but either to reach individual success or to save the world. Gen Z are sceptical towards traditional companies. They have a strong voice and they are not afraid to hustle. Gen Z knows how to talk with a megaphone and make a lot of noise if they are up to something.


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SXSW is one of the biggest digital conferences in the world, and a global meeting place for the world’s most innovative technology companies and people interested in how disruption can transform their business and everyday lives. The event takes place during during 10 days each year and this year Cartina had the chance to be part of it.

This series consists of 8 global mega trends that business leaders, experts, innovators and disruptors talked about during the days in Austin. If you want to read the full report, click the button above and we will email it to you.

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