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How Could Gen Z and Millennials Impact the 2020 Election?

Aug 10, 2020

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The months leading up to the 2020 election have been unprecedented and have upended every aspect of our lives. “For two generations in particular — Gen Z and Millennials — this is their defining moment,” says Jason Dorsey, president of The Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK). “One that is shaping and cementing their values, and determining what role they want to play as well as how they want to relate to others in society.”

Gen Z and Millennials make up 37% of the electorate, according to Pew Research. Join us on August 27 with CGK to unpack the outsized influence that these powerful generations are already having on the 2020 election and related issues — from the environment to the role they want their brands to play in the society they’ve inherited and want to help reshape.

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Our goal for the conversation is to understand these generations beyond clicks, scrolls, or shopping cart behavior. We want to know what they care about, how they talk about those things, what they are influenced by, and susceptible to. Knowing this will not only help us understand the impact Gen Z and Millennials will have on the election, but also understand how they develop their ideologies and the ways in which they are engaging with this moment.

Although Gen Z and Millennials are critically different, research by CGK reveals three important takeaways about these generations:

  • They believe in the power of the internet. 
  • They are loyal and true to themselves.
  • They join movements online.

They believe in the power of the internet. 

Gen Z and Millennials are digital natives. “Gen Z are very open toward the web because they believe the internet can be a force of good in the world,” said Dorsey. “While Millennials are more skeptical given security and privacy concerns, both generations create, consume, create, and share content online.” Though they embrace this to different extents, both generations see value in predictive technologies and personalized experiences. A report by CGK and WP Engine found 41% of Gen Z will leave a website if it doesn’t predict what they like, want, or need. 66% believe all websites will soon “talk” to one another and deliver personalized experience across every site, application, and appliance.

A word of caution… an environment where users believe in content shared online is created by others like them, and where there is trust in the algorithms that power websites is an ideal environment for misinformation to spread. This is something we’re paying attention to more than ever with the 2020 election around the corner.

When a generation is willing to put their data, content, in the hands of brands and organizations… there is a responsibility to handle that with authenticity and utmost care. A breach of trust would sever our relationship with these generations. And, we have seen that once that happens, making amends is an uphill battle to say the least. 

They are loyal and true to themselves.

Gen Z and Millennials are fleetingly loyal. CGK and WP Engine found these generations know they have choices. 

How could you make loyal consumers out of Gen Z and Millennials? Research shows they are more likely to buy products from a company that contributes to social causes. They are also more likely to listen to others online — 69% of Gen Z are more likely to buy a product if they know others like it, and 33% of Gen Z believe the opinions of online influencers more than their family or friends.

For these generations whose online and offline worlds are separated by very blurry lines, influence matters. In fact, 56% of Gen Z is friends with someone they only know online and have never met in person, and stunningly, 23% of them say they trust someone they meet online more than someone they meet in person. 

We will be paying attention to how conversations in the 2020 election start and spread across online communities — looking for fingerprints of authenticity and common tactics used by online power groups to score political points and make things trend.

They join movements online.

Gen Z is more racially and ethnically diverse than any previous generation, and they are on track to be the most well-educated generation yet. When it comes to their views on key social and policy issues, they look like Millennials. According to Pew Research, both generations are “progressive and pro-government, most see the country’s growing racial and ethnic diversity as a good thing, and they’re less likely than older generations to see the United States as superior to other nations.”

These generations are activators and they want to be and feel involved. We’ve seen this several times now — Tik Tokkers have coordinated online to troll presidential rallies, jam police department apps, and overwhelm shopping carts. In fact, 72% of Gen Z believe they can be part of a social movement even if they only participate through social media. 

While Millennials grew up during the Great Recession, Gen Z was in line to inherit a strong economy with record-low unemployment… 2020 completely changed that. The months leading up to the election have already shown these generations’ ability to make themselves known and heard, but make no mistake… they’re not going to wait before they see action.