Gen Z During the Pandemic: One Generation, Four Different Experiences

Six Gen Z together hugging smiling and laughing together with Business Insider logo on bottom right

What I shared with Business Insider about what our Gen Z data is showing and why it matters

  • Gen Z are experiencing the pandemic differently depending on their age
  • Lack of a school environment negatively impacts children
  • In the workforce, Gen Z are taking a heavy economic impact

As a Gen Z researcher and author of the forthcoming book Zconomy, I shared several research-based insights about the pandemic’s impact on Gen Z with Business Insider recently. Those impacts are felt socially and economically; and will have a profound effect on how Gen Z develop in their coming of age. As I talk about frequently in my virtual keynotes and executive strategy briefings, the pandemic is a Generation Defining Moment for Gen Z, aka iGen.

Already, we’re seeing some very important Gen Z trends. As I shared with Business Insider, “It’s likely Gen Z will become even more financially risk-averse than they already are and that the pandemic will change how they view work and learning [but] there’s a big difference between the seven-year-old and the 21-year-old.”

Online Networks are no Substitution for Gen Z’s IRL Social Experience at School

Public health experts continue to stress the importance of social distancing and other preventive measures during the pandemic. This new normal for social interaction has had an impact on all of us, especially for younger kids.

As I shared with Business Insider, “[Kids] already living at home with their parents [are telling us] they now have to see their parents all the time during quarantine life. They’ve also said that they miss school and their friends.”

Expectations for the Future Are Rapidly Changing for High School Seniors and College Students

Young adults who have or are about to graduate high school and those currently in college are seeing the same issues compounded with a realization that their futures have been affected as well.

As I noted in the interview, “[High school seniors’] graduations and proms have been canceled, and this is their last year to drive academic and sports achievements. But seniors aren’t just disappointed they’re missing out on their last year of high school. They’re also unsure what will happen after graduation.”

It is not much better for college students. Leaning on our latest research, I also noted, “Some are unsure if their classmates whose parents were laid off will return to school, because they may no longer be able to afford tuition […] There’s also the fact that some on-campus requirements like science labs can’t be [replicated] at home.”

Economic Uncertainty for Gen Z Workers

America has now seen over 35 million workers file for unemployment in the last two months. Our studies have shown that Gen Z has seen the worst of these economic impacts. It isn’t just about losing their job, either.

As I explained in the interview, “They’ve already been trying to become self-reliant and to build a foundation into adulthood and that’s completely gone. They don’t have finances to fall back on, and they can’t count on parents. They’re really in desperate straits because they lost their job or income and don’t have backstops to help them right now. They also don’t have a retirement account to pull money out of.”

Gen Z is experiencing many challenges now. However, there are many opportunities for them to find their silver lining in this Generation Defining Moment, especially younger members of Gen Z, many of whom are reshaping their relationship with learning, technology, and more. Along with my co-author, Dr. Denise Villa, we write about Gen Z’s strengths and more in our forthcoming book, Zconomy: How Gen Z Will Change the Future of Business—and What to Do About It.

How to Engage Your Gen Z Customers and Employees Now

There are many challenges with the uncertainty happening around us. In spite of this, leaders, marketers, and managers must ensure that their business can engage Gen Z now and emerge from this time period stronger. In fact, this has never been more important, for employers and marketers as well as for Gen Z’s own future.

At CGK, we are heavily researching how Gen Z and all generations are thinking about spending, work, brands, family, the economy, and much more throughout the pandemic. My team and I are providing these insights to you as executive briefings, webinars, and virtual keynote presentations to help leaders at all levels be accurately informed with missing data and solutions to drive results at this incredibly important time.

Contact our friendly team here to learn how our custom research and generational strategies can help your team and organization lead and solve challenges through this time of uncertainty. We are all in this together.


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