The saga continues…
A Special Being 20® Series Release
As the pandemic continues, Consumer Truth® also continues to tap into Gen Z’s world, gaining insight into how this defining issue has impacted this important demo and how they are emotionally processing the second wave of Covid-19.
How do their responses compare to our findings back in April 2020?
What’s it like for them? What aspects of their lives continue to be impacted most? What is their outlook for the next 6 months? If you have any burning Gen Z questions, let us know – contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are many negatives about the pandemic for those in their early 20s, including the interesting dichotomy of a period in their lives that is both “scary” and “boring” – no doubt related to the unpredictability of the virus’ end combined with all the virus-preventing restrictions to living life normally. Other common one-word descriptions shared by respondents point to the psychological impact of living in this time – “stressful” , “horrible”, “hard”, “lonely” and “sucks.”
In the beginning… they were SCARED AND ANXIOUS
Gen Z’s were mixed in their initial reactions to the pandemic. While they were mostly scared, worried and anxious, likely due to so many unknowns, many also felt it was “no big deal”— they were in denial or altogether indifferent.
Since then, they’ve become SADDER, MORE DEPRESSED and still worried.
Six months later, sadness and depression has set in for many, with worry, anxiety and stress levels still high. This is accompanied by fatigue and cynicism caused by constantly hearing about the virus, with many saying they’ve become indifferent, exhausted and frustrated with the topic.
Many also report feeling bored, doubtless by the omnipresence of the coronavirus news, as well as the corresponding restrictions in their everyday life activities.
Key life areas of school, family and career have been broadly impacted
What part of your life has been most impacted by the Coronavirus?
- School has been the most dramatically affected part of life for many in their early 20s who are in college or vocational programs. Closed campuses in the fall resulted in the seismic shift to online learning.
- Family life continues to sustain key blows with the absence of holiday and special occasion gatherings.
- Careers/jobs continue to be affected in the wake of further cutbacks and shutdowns.
But still, they view the future optimistically, and their reliance on technology has kept social relationships intact.
- Despite the dire state of the world right now, Gen Z remains optimistic in the belief that this too shall pass and actually not affect their lives in the long term.
- This may also hold true for their life experiences – on hold for now but still with plenty of time ahead in which to engage.
- And because this generation relies so much on technology to communicate, many of their social relationships likely sustained less impact.
How have your activities changed over the past six months?
Key life changes involve school, socializing and employment – and some growth in personal development (e.g., learning something new and reading more).
- Student Gen Z-ers report they are back in school again, but mostly virtually. And all report doing less family/friend socializing in person but have ramped up their time on social media.
- While some have gone back to work, more are working from home and many are still not working at all.
We asked what they’ve learned over the course of the virus, about people, friends/family and the media
They’ve developed a rather jaded view of their fellow human.
Of those who answered the question this round, sentiments about people’s behavior during the pandemic continue to reflect a dim view, describing them as being “stupid,” “selfish,” “stubborn,” “uncaring,” and “rude”.
Relationships have proven to be both important and a source of frustration.
For many (37%), family and friends have proven to be “important”, “good” and “supportive” during the pandemic struggle. However, for some (27%) they have become “annoying/ stupid/crazy/lazy,” “don’t get along,” “not who I thought/fake/rude.” This is likely exacerbated by the increased confinement caused by the pandemic.
And the media are viewed with both distrust and disdain.
- Only 5% of Gen Z-ers find the media to have been “informative” over the course of/about the pandemic.
- The rest claim:
- They are stupid, biased, they suck, are crazy, politically driven, fearmongering, annoying, toxic, fake or rude (37%)
- They lie, mislead or exaggerate (25%)
- To have learned nothing from them (24%).
Despite the challenges, there is optimism.
What’s your crystal ball prediction? What will life be like in March 2021?
- In our first survey conducted, in April of 2020, we asked Gen Z-ers to predict what life would be like one year out – to March 2021.
- Most felt life would be “back to normal” or “how it was before the virus”; “business as usual.”
- In our follow-up survey six months later (October-November), we again asked for predictions one year out to March 2021 – one year after the onset of the pandemic, but from a close-in viewpoint – having lived through a first and second wave, with a vaccine on the horizon and amid a politically-charged climate.
- Turns out, predictions – even from a closer-in lens – are basically the same. This reflects the prevailing sense of optimism/hope for the future that we’ve found has characterized this generation.
- Nearly a third (32%) of Gen Z-ers predict that life will be “the same” or “back to normal.” Another 8% predict it will be “better/great.”
- Conversely, only a combined 17% say they are “uncertain“ or that things will be “hard/worse.”
What does all this mean for marketers?
Like all of us, Gen Z-ers have and will continue to be deeply affected by the pandemic in ways physical, emotional, and psychological. Understanding the very real emotional ebb and flow of this generation’s world – that what is true for them one day can change quickly and that as a group they have a ton of diametric viewpoints. And as they hold tightly to an optimistic future, we are reminded of what we continue to hear from this demo – that even amid a global pandemic, they will not be corralled into a single definition or a box of any kind.
Because the pandemic predicament is a moving target, it is challenging to make plans in the present. The key learning may be how we as marketers move forward and how we address Gen Z’s when we get to the other side – whenever that may be and whatever it may look like. We do know that speaking to them will be different and that even as they continue to hope for a bright future, they are forever colored by events that have shaped the rest of their lives.
What’s next in our Being 20® series?
In our next “Being 20®” Series, Gen Z’s give us their perspective on mobile apps. In a world where virtual has increasingly supplanted physical, how do they decide what apps are most critical and why? What kinds of apps are “must haves” and what kinds have become more/less relevant over the past year? What gets an app on or off their phone? What keeps it on?
This COVID-19 Part 2 survey was conducted by Consumer Truth® Ltd., among 259 respondents between the ages of 20-24, over the weeks of October 26-November 2, 2020.