Are we really keeping up with Gen Z and Alpha?

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

Rebecca Roberts

Thread & Fable

As I prepare for my Pecha Kucha session at ADAN20 next week, I’ve realised it’s a really good job I talk pretty quickly as there’s so much to get through when it comes to the research around children and young people’s lives – not least the questions that lockdown now poses for their future.

I’m a true believer that you can engage audiences and do right by them by thinking about their whole picture – i.e. not just defining them by a single piece of data, common trait or trend, and thus, the volume of research and data around young people can be really helpful as you build a campaign or even start thinking about your tone of voice on social media.

Over the past few years, I’ve put out updates to clients, which turned into a report, essentially summarising some of the insights each year and key themes to consider – some of the correlations and causations that this data overload throw up – in a sort of one-stop-spew-up of relevant information. Sounds disgusting, but it has started some useful conversations!

My passion for doing all this (and disclaimer – I do this stuff and share it for free) is because, like most people I think, I’m not a fan of stereotypes and I’ve sat in too many meetings where the common approach for younger audiences is reflecting back to when most people in the room were that age. And let me tell you, there’s nothing more depressing than a room full of Millennials talking about what was cool in 2005 as a route to creating a great student campaign for 2020. Ok wait, maybe a room of Boomers and Millennials arguing over what would work, yep that wins.

I’m going to focus on some of the data that’s starting to emerge from the past few months and link it into some of the trends over the past year because for me, that gives us the best chance of considering some of the challenges and opportunities there are as we go into the coming (and I’m sorry I’ve got to use THAT word) UNPRESEDENTED year ahead.

Screen time has absolutely soared for all ages over the past few months and in fact, all ‘typical’ behaviour and usage of apps has been somewhat disrupted by the joys of lockdown. There is certainly space to be creative, but against a backdrop of uncertainty and economic and political unrest… it’s complicated.

As Gen Z’s battle with the decision of whether to embark on University at all and the growing pressures on other aspects of their decision making – money, family circumstances, graduate prospects – perhaps there’s never been a more important time to really think about how to support their decision making process and engage them in the right way. No pressure then.

My session at ADAN20 will walk through some of the main themes and issues specific to data on children and young people in the UK, with a focus on what lockdown has changed or perhaps accelerated over the past few months. You can download my Engaging Youth 2020 report here, which has a stack of sources from much smarter people and organisations doing the deep research which I touch upon in brief. I hope it helps.


Rebecca will be speaking at All Day All Night. View her session overview here.

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