Research conducted by Rian Weinstein, Steph Strickland, Gretta Kissell, Zineb Jaoudat, and Kate Graham 

  1. Gen Z’s Love-Hate Relationship with Social Media 

2023 has brought an unsurprising underscore of Gen Z’s massive media appetite. We found 94% of Gen Z respondents engage on social media daily; 80% of these respondents consume social media more often than they consume food. 

Gen Z is starting to feel the negative impacts of this time online. 80% of respondents say they feel neutral or negative in their experience, with 30% of these respondents referencing social media’s impact on their mental health and well-being for this sentiment. 

Will social media become our lifelong lover or toxic ex? Read the full study to get our take. 

  1. How Gen Z Embraces Circular Economies 

Everyday items that decorate our lives used to be separated by cultures and continents. Now, everything is mass produced, cheap, and disposable. Our relationship with products has been historically linear, but the future is circular. 

We found roughly half of our respondents were familiar with the term ‘circularity,’ but 97% had engaged with activities like thrifting, recycling, and repairing items that fall under the circular model. 

“Instead of constantly buying new clothes, most of my clothes are thrifted. If an [item] isn’t any good (torn, or just not good anymore), I cut it into pieces, and it is turned into a rag that can be used around the house instead of buying cleaning cloths.” – Gen Z Respondent

Take a look at our well-rounded take on the circular economy. 

  1. How Is Gen Z Disrupting Corporate Social Responsibility?

In 2023, brands made a lot of promises. 

Promises for carbon neutrality, promises to set net-zero goals, and promises that you shouldn’t feel bad buying their products. With so much noise about being green, Gen Z has been approaching brands embracing the S-word (a.k.a. sustainability) with confusion and skepticism. 

Only 1.9% of respondents find that brands claiming to be sustainable are ‘very trustworthy,’ compared to 52.4% of respondents that find it to be ‘somewhat trustworthy.’ Very few of us are putting all of our trust in brands making these claims. The majority of us approach these claims with some trust and some skepticism. 

Now, COP28 is officially underway, and young people are demanding a seat at the table. A study by KPMG found 95% of Gen Z respondents (between 18-24) wanted to be more involved in sustainability-related decisions. Yet, only 28% felt they were being heard by leadership on net zero and sustainability issues.

To learn more about how to navigate this skepticism with effectiveness, check out our take. 

  1. What’s the Tea with ChatGPT? 

When AI pioneer Geoff Hinton quit Google this May to express concerns about AI growth, it felt like a scene straight out of a supervillain movie. But, in this case, we still have to decide who’s the bad guy. 

We know young people are using this technology. When we checked in with The Receipt, our global network of 9,000+ Gen Zers, we found that 72% of respondents have used ChatGPT — with nearly 1 in 5 in this group using it at least daily. 

Those using the service go to it most commonly for work tasks (38%), for getting questions answered (20%), or just for fun (13%). 

To get all the gossip on ChatGPT, check out our (human-generated) piece. 

  1. Does College Still Feel Worth It to Gen Z? 

A couple of months ago, we all started back up on paying off our student loans after the COVID-19 pause, without the help of Biden’s proposed student loan forgiveness that was struck down by SCOTUS. 

Nearly 80% of our Gen Z respondents are currently in or planning to attend college, with a focus on career development and networking opportunities. Gen Z is really leaning into the “who you know” of the professional world and see college as the pathway to building their network. 

Yet, 24% of adults nationally say student debt is their biggest financial regret (Bankrate). TLDR: We are going to college but are stressed about the cost to make it through. 

Read more about our take on whether college is worth it to Gen Z here

  1. Co-Creating the Future of Work with Gen Z 

By 2025, Gen Z will make up nearly a third of the workforce, and companies are reckoning with how to prepare for the next generation of employees. 

In a collaboration between JUV Consulting and Marketers That Matter, a group of top CMOs and marketing leaders from American Eagle Outfitters, Autodesk, Cadillac, Chime, Chipotle Mexican Grill, DoorDash, e.l.f. Beauty, HP Inc., Kellogg’s, Nike, PepsiCo, Pinterest, and Spotify were brought together to discuss just that. We also tapped into our Receipt network of over 9,000 global Gen Z’ers to share their story. 

We found that Gen Z’ers are feeling insecure in their careers and are lacking the mentorship and coaching needed to make them more confident. Gen Z’ers also want to feel connected to their work, both in values and in working culture. 

Download the full report here.

They say Yes — But are Stressed About Affording It

School’s not the only thing back in session — student loan payments will start back up in October, and a study by Bankrate found that 24% of Americans with student loan debt say it’s their biggest financial regret (Source).

Waves of mass layoffs have Gen Zers anxious about their futures and puts the value of a college degree in flux. That’s not even including the typical stresses of school, the rising cost of housing, and the general inflation of products that can especially impact students strapped for cash. 

With all the growing expenses of growing up, we asked The Receipt, our Gen Z community of 9k+, whether college feels worth it anymore. Not only were tuition costs and financial aid one of the top two factors influencing their decisions around pursuing higher education (28%), but it was also the #1 potential barrier to pursuing higher education – making 46% of respondents hesitant to get a college degree (Source: The Receipt Network).

While money may be a concern, the majority of Receipt members are still pursuing higher ed, specifically college, with 77%  either in college or planning to attend.  So, what’s drawing them in? 

When deciding on which school to attend, courses or reputation are drivers but not deal breakers: while courses and programs offered (29%) and reputation and ranking (25%) are among the top three most influential factors when deciding on a University or trade school, very few Receipt members viewed them as deterring (8%). 

The real draw for respondents is career development and networking opportunities. Respondents find that college is a career launchpad, given the professional development and networking opportunities offered by their schools. As one respondent put it, “I think college is valuable if you take advantage of the services offered. For example, using the school for resume help or for getting internships.”

College is also where they are able to meet like-minded peers and make new friends. Another respondent explained that the “friendships [made], alongside the amazing journey of discovering your career path with extra resources [and] support, it’s what makes the college experience so worth it.”

Lastly, respondents associate college with being a pivotal moment in their lives; it is the transitional period between adolescence and adulthood. At college, they learn about themselves, their interests, and passions but also skills — either for their chosen career path or soft skills like time management.

So, while Gen Zers are feeling the stress of college, they’re still hopeful about the opportunities that higher education can unlock — as long as they can afford it.  

The data collected from the Receipt Network featured 87 respondents. These results are not generalizable to all of Gen Z, but help contextualize findings from other studies. Data collection was open from 9/15-9/18/2023 as part of JUV’s Weekly Ztat, where we gather quick-pulse data from our Receipt Network of over 5,000+ global Gen Z’ers. 

It’s October 3rd … AKA, time to fixate on our favorite early-2000s movie. With all things baby tee, hot pink, and bedazzled back in vogue, what is it about the ‘85-to’05 period that makes it so attractive to Gen Zers? 

“What I see and engage with is a cause [of anxiety]. It can be negative or upsetting news articles, FOMO if I’m seeing friends having fun, or a feeling of inadequacy if I see a happy and successful influencer’s post.” In a January 2023 study by The Receipt, one member described their social media experience as such. The rapid increase in technology over the past 20 years is to an extreme detriment to the health of young people. With 98% of Gen Z visiting social media daily, and 54% spending four or more hours a day on it, our generation is inextricably linked with being “chronically online.” Our social media apps run on misinformation, mine negative emotions like anger and envy, and showcase endless “perfect” lifestyles made possible by paid partnerships. Thus, it’s no surprise that only 32% of Gen Z feel positive about socials. 

The apps Gen Z grew up on — Minecraft, Temple Run, Animal Jam, Fruit Ninja, Club Penguin, and, to name a few — were related to much more positive emotions compared to the current digital media. Playing “Fireboy and Watergirl” with friends is leagues different than watching TikToks together, and that stark contrast drives our needs for bygone social media. A video trend of Mr. Bean or “Interstellar”’s Matthew McConaughey looking longingly has circulated online, with users pairing melancholy audios with the songs, games, smells, and shows that ran our childhoods. 50% of Gen Z feel nostalgic, and these references bring us back to a time that felt undoubtedly better. 

Another large driver of this obsession is the trend cycle. With fashion, music, and culture finding its way back into the mainstream every 20 years, this period is relevant again. Social media has also increased thrifting culture, the distribution of media from the ‘85-’05 period, and the use of nostalgia as a distraction from current affairs. 

Songs and artists pushed back into the mainstream by TikTok and other short-form video include Kate Bush, ABBA, Fleetwood Mac, “Teenage Dirtbag,” “Half On a Sack,” “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This),” and “Mayonaka no Door / Stay With Me.” This period feels close enough to be relevant, but far enough to be distanced from present time. 

The use of sequels by television and movie companies has also increased our shift toward the past. Some of the follow-ups released in the past couple years include “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power,” “Top Gun: Maverick,” “That ‘90s Show,” “And Just Like That …” and “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” We’ve also had shows like “Stranger Things” and “Derry Girls” that tactfully reference the semi-recent past. 

48% of Gen Z is worried about life moving too fast. Nostalgia — from Y2K fashion, to Polaroid cameras, to record players, to flip phones — is driving our culture, and it’s crucial for brands to keep an eye on the next wave of trends, rooted in the past, that Gen Z will disrupt.