Just as the Great Recession created an indelible mark on millennials, so, too, has the effect of the pandemic had on Gen Z (born between 1996 and 2010). That’s the observation of some experts and it’s important because these folks are the largest generation in our history and make up 27% of our population. In addition, Gen Z is our youngest and most ethnically diverse generation.

What’s New

78% of respondents to a Morning Consult survey said COVID-19 had more impact on them than 9/11 or even the mass shootings at Parkland, Sandy Hook or Las Vegas. The data intelligence and market research firm recently launched the first in a series of multiyear surveys to better understand this generation. Like this survey, they expect to poll about a thousand Gen Zers ages 13 to 23 and 2,000 Gen Zers over 23.

On the Other Hand

Despite the impact of the pandemic, 77% of Gen Zers told Morning Consult that they’re optimistic about their future well-being. Another 88% went so far as to say that their future will be determined by the choices they make.

However, the shadow and memory of COVID-19 lingers, especially over education. 63% expressed concern that COVID-19 will affect their future education, while another 59% said they’re apprehensive over how it will impact potential career choices. 

Another interesting discovery from the survey is that COVID-19’s impact on family and national health ranked higher than the economy. 73% of respondents cited family and national health as most important over their own personal health at 61%. The economy reported in at 71%.

Marketing Highlights

What’s likely to grab the attention of marketers is that only 7% said they put a lot of trust in people in positions of power while another 43% reported having some trust. Similarly, just 6% strongly agreed that the world is a fair place, while only 13% kind of agreed.

What these results reveal to CMOs is a reason to reassess the kind and quality of communication coming from a brand. Gen Zers’ most important value in brands is honesty. 71% ranked it very important, while 57% said it was more important considering COVID-19.

And for about half the Gen Zers surveyed, COVID-19 has not only affected their opinion about some companies, but also altered their spending habits. 52% said they changed their opinion about a company because of their response to COVID-19, while 45% said they will now buy from certain companies for the same reason.

Morning Consult’s findings also confirmed earlier studies showing Gen Z’s concern for employees at companies whose brand they purchase. 62% rated this higher than price or quality. The way brands treated their employees during the pandemic also meant a lot to respondents. 74% said that alone would affect their future brand loyalty.

Loyalty was at the heart of two other major findings. 60% of Gen Zers said the way the brand communicated with them during the pandemic will affect their loyalty. 70% reported that the manner in which a brand helped others during the pandemic would also increase their loyalty.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.