RPA Releases Findings from Yearlong Study of Gen Z: The Identity Shifters

October 11, 2018


Santa Monica, Calif., Oct. 11, 2018 — Leading independent ad agency RPA has released findings from a yearlong qualitative exploration of Gen Z conducted by Gen Z researchers. The study, titled "The Identify Shifters: A Gen Z Exploration," aims to help marketers understand how to reach and engage with this influential generation of customers, and yields insight into virtually every aspect of their lives, including social-media habits, social activism and politics, relationships, diversity, and education and careers. It presents an inside perspective on a generation that is reinterpreting and reshaping the world and their place within it.

According to the study, for Gen Z, those born between the late '90s and mid-2000s, having one static "self" does not make sense for the ever-altering, instantaneous, and always connected world in which they live. They defy labels and fixed identities, shifting between contradictory behaviors and attitudes, expectations and reality. This generation is redefining authenticity and renegotiating the meaning of reality and truth.

The study, led by Mia von Sadovszky, RPA's SVP, group strategic planning director, and Jess Watts, associate strategic planning director, consisted of a number of research methodologies such as social-media identity research, a national mobile appnography, a national Tinder analysis, Gen Z focus groups led by Gen Zers, creative outputs from Gen Z filmmakers, interviews with 17 front-line experts across the country (teachers, coaches, Bible-study instructors, therapists, etc.) and insight from Gen Z's favorite brands about this generation of customers.

Acknowledging Gen Z's ability to play back the "right" answers to survey questions, the study intentionally went beyond statistics and focused on qualitative exploration, heavily emphasizing behavioral data and insights.

"For Gen Z, defining their identity or 'brand' is an ongoing editing process requiring them to publicly try on different sets of selves. While not always 'politically correct,' they strive to be 'situationally correct,'" said Mia von Sadovszky. ???Gen Z has been born into such radically different times, their unique way of passing through their current life stage serves as our peephole into predicting their worldview moving forward. Today we are all living in the world that shaped them. By understanding Gen Z, we can understand the forces shaping all of us."

When it comes to building a brand that matters to Gen Z, the study reveals that companies will have to rethink the concept of brand identity. Its findings show that Gen Z recognizes the complexity of self and sees nothing wrong in projecting an audience-tailored image. As Gen Z enters the marketplace, getting brand messaging right with these 23 million potential customers will rely heavily on companies' understanding of the fluid nature of Gen Z identities.

An in-depth look at the research is available here: http://identityshifters.com. The website is an interactive digital experience designed to share ongoing insights into the ever-changing nature of Gen Z in a dynamic way, reflecting the essence of this generation of identity shifters.

About RPA RPA, headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., is a leading independent full-service advertising agency whose mission is to create ideas and experiences that put "People First" within a culture that empowers individuals and teams. RPA has a proven track record of building brands while building businesses into positions of category leadership, and has been rewarded with many long-term client relationships because of it. RPA's client list includes American Honda, ampm, Apartments.com, ARCO, CoStar Group, Farmers Insurance Group, La-Z-Boy and Southwest Airlines. For more information, visit http://www.rpa.com.