Six Trends Among Generation Z In 2016

Generation Z: getting the attention they deserve.

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Looking ahead to 2016, Generation Z is finally going to get the attention they deserve. With tech-ingenious Gen Z teens coming of age, and revealing their exceptional potential, our slow but steady ascending interest in Gen Z is going to accelerate in 2016. 

2016 Trends

2016 Trends

Ranging in age from 6 to 20 in 2016, Gen Z is evolving into every educator’s dream and every marketer’s challenge. Our global society, particularly marketers in this case, need to fully understand Generation Z not as tech-head kids, but as worthy consumers and worldly contributors.

Gen Z should be a top trend for every marketer in 2016. Now that Millennials are finally making room for Gen Z, this powerful cohort is ready to have its own set of trends. Here are 6 trends for Gen Z in 2016 – trends based on observations, insights, events – that you’ll want to know.

  1. Approaching Adulthood
 (in Mind and Body)
    Tech-ingenious, confident and ambitious, many convincing Gen Zees already act like adults at age 10! Living with them is like having our very own Technology Wizard who acts more like 30 than 15. But the facts reveal shocking statistics, that Gen Z is growing up in body and entering adulthood. Born between 1996-2010, some of the 23 million in the US, and 1.9 billion globally, will turn 20 years old in 2016. Soon they’ll be spending some of the $44 billion they’ve saved.
    Working or nearly graduating from college, teens are about to become your intern, co-worker, consumer, employee or maybe even your boss! Get ready because Gen Z operates 100% digitally.

2. Filtering at the Speed of Light
Getting the attention of a Gen Z gets harder each month. The 8 second attention spans evolved into the 8 second filters. For 2016 and beyond, I predict Gen Z filtering speeds will ramp up to be 4 second filters, taking a Gen Z only 4 seconds to filter or process a piece of content.  Over time, continuous screen usage refines their processing engines, giving them the ability to “get the point” in 4 seconds. Gen Z will become more efficient with their eyeballs and thus, their time, which is worth more than ever.

To optimize engagements, brands need to sharpen their images, tighten their slogans and strive to be everywhere a Gen Z is.

3. Self-diagnosing PSA – Phone Separation Anxietyemoji-2016-Img5
Let’s face it, wired Gen Z is completely obsessed with their phones and screens. They’ve grown up together, experience everything in life together since birth, all through the eyes & lens of their shiny little gadgets. In 2016, this obsession could evolve into an emotional addiction, a connection so deep it could feel like an unrequited love.
As Gen Z enters college and the workforce, the phone’s presence will explode from a gadget to the “elephant in the room”. One recent UMD study revealed that 79% display symptoms of emotional distress when kept away from their smartphones. This is causing irreparable consequences like declining grades in college classes.

The highly addicted Gen Z who can’t live without their phone, will diagnose themselves with what I call PSA, Phone Separation Anxiety, which isn’t real but it sounds real enough for them to hold onto their phones anytime. Bottom line – it’s a choice:  Gen Z can blame PSA for their falling grades or take control and work on detaching without distress.  While not all Gen Zees suffer from PSA yet, I’m sure there will be a drug to prevent it and another drug to cure it.

4. Power of Voting, Voting with Powerimages
The upcoming election in 2016 will be the first time a Gen Z over 18 can vote in a Presidential Election. Gen Z voters are eager to make their strong political opinions officially count. Gen Z is deeply concerned and involved with global issues and social equality, witnessing the historical event of the first African-American President to be elected in 2008. With live streaming media, they’ve been exposed to the memorable political and global events that affect their viewpoints today, making them altruistic and quite liberal politically.  Plus, Gen Z is an influential group who is highly progressive when it comes to social change.

The mantra, “don’t discuss politics” doesn’t apply to them. They are very outspoken about their liberal political views online and offline, and do the research to support their candidates. They encourage a debate, showing way less fear of conflict than Gen X or Gen Y. And if candidates want their vote, they need to address the interests of Generation Z.

5. Becoming a ZEO, not CEO
One sure thing is that Gen Z is very entrepreneurial, with 72% wanting to start their own business. Online and offline, Gen Z is learning how to create, promote, review and transact making the leap from online wizard to entrepreneur a natural progression.

Well look out – highly enterprising Gen Zees are getting a head start by launching their own small business – a business not led by a Chief, but led by a Z, a Gen Z. They are leading their own small organizations – LLCs or Inc.’s – where the “shareholders” like the needy or homeless get the share of the benefits from the business acumen of a compassionate Gen Z.

Pragmatic ZEO’s are applying their leadership skills by turning their passions into donations for non-profits, their hobbies into meaningful careers, all while creating and customizing their futures.Not only does this shine on the college resume, it’s the perfect entrée into future C-suite jobs. 

6. Waiting for the Name Fairy
Through 2015, Generation Z is the most frequently used term but in 2016, Gen Z is ready to be awarded a new name that symbolizes their personality in one word. Born after Boomers, Gen X (“X” was perfect for Gen X), and Millennials (Gen Y), the letter “Z” is the default letter for this generation. But it’s a completely inaccurate name for these ambitious leaders who are hardly last in anything.

There’s a buzz about contests for new names, similar to the way Millennials were named by USA Today. Some of the names in the running include “iGen” or “Post-Millennials”, “Homelanders”, “Digital Natives”, “Selfie Generation” and “Generation Zed”.  I prefer terms that give credit and make them stand apart. For example, the “Generation Firsts” have seen many firsts and plan to achieve even more firsts in their futures. “Generation iCan” is working hard to be entrepreneurs, game-changers, leaders, altruists and innovators because technology has enabled them to believe they can do anything.  Let’s hope the name fairy comes to visit in 2016. – – – 

These six trends are just a few of many trends emerging among Generation Z in 2016. Gen Z is facing intense academic and social pressure to succeed, to attend top universities or find themselves high paying jobs. In 2016, I also foresee Gen Z experimenting in unplugged recreations (drugs, alcohol, romance), the ones that don’t come with an app.

Generation Z should be on everyone’s list of emerging trends for 2016. If you’d like to learn more about Gen Z, contact Nancy at

About the author

Nancy Nessel

Nancy has keen behavioral insight and generational foresight, fueling her interest in different generations and their unique preferences. She is a progressive thought-leader and intelligent blogger about Generation Z, the next generation following Gen Y. Managing a career in consumer marketing plus two Gen Z kids of her own, Nancy is one of the premiere marketers to study and promote this "digital generation" of future talent.

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