Guide to Understanding Gen Z, The Generation of Digital Native

Last update: March 25, 2021

If you are working out of a cafe, posting about every moment with too much detail, and think that the tear face emoji is so in, we have news for you. You are ancient on the Internet.

With the advent of Gen Z, the first generation of digital natives, traditional and digital marketers are in for a surprise. Unlike the millennials – who came of age during the Great Recession and have witnessed the post-liberalization period– Gen Z has inherited a stable economy, a crumbling socio-political environment and degrading ecosystem.


Born between 1995-2012, Gen Z is the most educated, ethnically diverse, and truly mobile generation that has outnumbered millennials and constitutes 32% of the global population. The oldest of this generation is ready to join the workforce and quality as potential customers for many luxury and utility brands alike.

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What makes catering to this new generation so challenging is their innate ability to collect, cross-reference, and analyze data from multiple sources to make a sound choice. Unlike their predecessor, Gen Z is not idealists and dreamy; they are thrifty, woke, less emotional, more analytical, and most importantly, individualistic. So, the old tricks of marketing that dazzled boomers, persuaded millennials, might not work on them.

In this article, we will learn more about this up-and-coming generation? How are they different from the others? What motivates them and what ticks them off in life? How do they connect with the media and how can you tailor your brand to cater to their taste?

But First, Who Really Is Gen Z?

Similar to the 90’s kids who have witnessed the market change, technology evolve and culture shift, Gen Z is the product of their time, however, with one key difference – unlimited access to information. Gen Z has grown up in a fractured society filled with data breaching, an overload of information, fake news, #MeToo, #BalckLivesMatter, police brutality, and the changing climate.

Along with the cons, they have also inherited a world that is more fluid in its approach to gender, and identity. Although they witnessed the horrors of fake news and data breach, they understand the importance of privacy and demand transparency.

Being the first generation of social natives, they are vocal, connected, and unafraid of being political. They are the first generation that aggressively forced society to face the environmental crisis, created pressure, and pushed them to work for the better.

In terms of brands, Gen Z is not phased by famous logos, they gravitate towards products that align with their value systems. A brand purpose is a driving factor for decision making and values like sustainability, cruelty-free and ethical business practices are popular among them.

What Is Their Relationship With The Media?

Mobile Holds A Key To Their World

The last two decades have completely reshaped the digital landscape of UAE and KSA. The upcoming policies and Vision 2030 in the case of KSA aim to create a conducive environment for digital technologies and innovation.

According to Global Media Insight 2020, the Emiratis population spends an average of 2.57 hours on social media daily. Out of the total population of 9.83 million, 9.73 are active social media users. The three most popular platforms are Youtube with 8.65 million users, Facebook with 7.77 million users, and Instagram with 6.68 million users.

In regards to KSA, the number of internet users increased by 4.3 million between 2019-2020. Today, Saudi Arabia has the largest social media presence in the world with Saudi youth making up to 75% of the total UAE population. Although millennials take 44.3% share of the pie, Gen Z closely follows them with a solid 39.5%. (Source: Talkwalker)

This data sheds light on important points like the boom of mobile social media usage and 9.7 million users access social media through their mobile devices. Also, Gen Z is closely competing with millennials and marketers can no longer afford to ignore them.

A Close But Private Relationship With Social Media

It is no secret that Gen Z lives and breathes on the Internet. They spend an average of 3 hours scrolling through social media but that doesn’t mean that they share every movement and passing thought on the platform. One of the major powers this group holds is their uncanny ability to filter, compartmentalize and distance themselves from social media images.

For example Platforms like tik-tok are used to fun dances, art, bizarre food trends but also create a snappy 15-sec video of their opinion on social/ political issues. On the other hand, Facebook, though hardly used, is seen as more appropriate for sharing with larger networks of friends and family.

The most interesting of the lot is the trend of Finsta’s, or fake Instagram accounts, set up to share raw, unfiltered moments with a select group of friends with content.

Influencer’s Influence Is Big

The upcoming trend of influencers is not out of the blue, it is created out of necessity and borderline desire. Rather than following mainstream actors and popstars, Gen Z prefers more authentic and relatable role models that align with their set of values. When the values align, Gen Z develops a sense of affection, appreciation, and a strong relationship with influencers, which is more powerful than you may think.

To put in context, what cinema and Tv were to 90s kids, influencers are to Gen Z. These influencers help empower fans through beliefs, self-expression and give them a purpose to care about, but also influence their purchasing decisions. Hence, even luxury brands like Dior and Marc & Jacobs are collaborating with YouTubers and Instagram celebrities to persuade the ever-elusive Gen Z.

Omnichannel Experience Is The Way To Go

Although Gen Z relies on the Internet for everything, it is important to understand that there is a method to their madness.

  • They follow influencers for empowerment and inspiration.
  • Instagram, youtube, and tik-tok are great platforms to discover brands and products that are up their alley.
  • Their purchasing decisions heavily rely on feedback, word-of-mouth from a trusted source, and recommendations from friends and family.

Compared to other generations, they might be less likely to shop in physical stores but that doesn’t mean you underestimate the power of motor and brick stores. One of the key traits of Gen Z’s personality is thriftiness, they are careful with their money and are likely to cross-reference the product on different sources. They appreciate the good experience, so consistency in both online and offline channels is the way to go.

Digital Platform They Heart

Social media has become a lifeline for Gen Z and Millennials alike. Especially in these times when you are stuck at home, quarantining and social distancing to connect, distract, and comfort. While several platforms are popular among the sub-groups of Gen Z including clubhouse, Spotify, Twitch, and Tumblr. There are 4 platforms almost everyone loves.

Youtube is their platform of choice for either knowledge or entertainment. Since the influencer trend is big with this generation, the youtube format helps them gain deeper insight into their idol’s life and connect with them.

Instagram operates as a platform catching up with pop culture, daily updates on friends, and all things lifestyle. Unlike the millennials who are big on oversharing, Gen Z uses this platform to find something new and interesting.

Snapchat: In 2020, Snapchat, in partnership with Kantar, shared that it reaches some 90% of 13-24 year-olds, essentially gen z, across the US, more than Facebook, Instagram and Messenger combined. Gen Z uses Snapchat to connect with friends, fun filters, immersive content, nuggets of content, and transparency between users and the platform.

Tik Tok: Tik-Tok, is immensely popular among the gen z. They can solely be credited for the platform’s initial success. Long gone are the days we used to ridicule tik-tok dances and skits. Today they are all the rage, and in the lockdown, even the celebrities joined in.

Tips To Connect With Gen Z Better:

  1. Talk about your brand values and purpose, not just your product and brand. Gen Z wishes to invest and promote brands with meaningful stories or missions.
  1. Representation and diversity are important to them in a brand but stray away from the trap of tokenism. They are digital natives; they know a facade when they see one.
  1. One of the best strategies in this complex, and polarised is to be positive. Gen Z might not have faced recession but they are the generation grappling with unemployment, climate change, and mental health crisis. Acknowledge the challenges but focus on celebrating as a community.
  1. Be real. The younger generation is okay with imperfection and even relates better to brands that have the strength to be vulnerable. Growing up in a hyper-commercialized world brimming with ads and branded content, they appreciate originality, realness, and especially – individualism.


To be honest, most companies aspire to cater to the younger generation but aren’t ready to market to do so. The generation divide is huge and ‘winging as you go’ won’t work in this case. So, it’s time you get in touch with people who actually understand them and help you guide the way to the future.

Vowels Branding Design Agency Dubai with its team of expert strategists and designers, will help you with customer persona to help you target and strategize better. Along with that, the agency can help you create unique and original visual and verbal brand identity to stand out among the competition.

Some of our other services are logo design, and a complete brand makeover. We specialize in brand consultancy, strategy, brand guidelines, CI manual, brand presentation, and corporate branding.

Extended across multiple countries like the Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain, we believe in providing exclusive solutions to all your brand problems.


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Geet B.
Branding Expert

I'm a business strategist and brand consultant who helps brand solve their business problems through developing competent experiences driven by insights from diagnosing leadership mindset. Need help with your brand? — Get in touch

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