Understanding Gen Z: The Definitive Guide to the Next Generation

A superlative generation in many regards, Generation Z is on track to be the largest, most ethnically diverse, and financially-powerful generation ever. In the coming years, their distinctive habits will play an outsized role in shaping American culture and commerce. A new Morning Consult report digs into their values, habits, aspirations, politics, and concerns, offering a detailed overview of the ideas that are shaping Gen Z, and the ways they differ from the generations that came before them.The report uses data from nearly 1,000 interviews with Gen Z adults 18-21 year-olds and explores how Gen Z adults view American culture and commerce. In addition to the latest report, Morning Consult is conducting more than 250,000 interviews on adult Gen Z adults every year, providing deep, measurable insights into the emerging, influential generation.

Key takeaways:


Gen Z’s are more likely to define themselves by what they do, have aspirations to be famous: By and large, Gen Z adults hold similar values to older Americans, placing a premium on honesty, reliability, and commitment. However, the places where Gen Z adults differ from older generations have a clear trend: they are more likely to put stock in individualistic values, and less likely to say hierarchical values are important.

  •     Making money and having a successful career are the two most universally important life goals for Gen Z adults – more than pursuing friends, family, or hobbies. They are also notably more likely than older generations to value doing what it takes to get ahead in life
  •     A quarter of Gen Z adults have aspirations to be famous: 23% say being famous is important to them – eight points higher than millennials and 15 points higher than Gen X


Gen Z are skeptical about American power and institutions: Gen Z adults are politically disengaged and widely distrustful of institutions and powerful interests:

  •     78% say there is a lot of corruption in America
  •     8% have a lot of trust in people in power to do the right thing
  •     53% agree that people who work hard and play by the rules generally get ahead – 8 points lower than all adults
  •     44% say they have strong political opinions, 20 points lower than all older adults
  •     Capitalism vs. Socialism: Reversing a trend of declining generational trust, Gen Z adults put slightly more faith in capitalism than millennials. They have an equally rosy view of socialism
  •     Gen Z adults are far less America-centric than older Americans. They are less likely to say that being an American is important to their identity, and more skeptical that the U.S. sets a good example for the rest of the world


Gen Z is more liberal and invested in social justice: Compared to older generations, Gen Z adults are the most liberal and are particularly invested in social justice issues. Gen Z adults are 20 points less likely to be conservative than other generations.

  •     Health care, civil rights, and the cost of education are the most important issues for Gen Z adults
  •     Just 20% of Gen Z adults have a favorable opinion of President Trump while 64% have an unfavorable one

Gen Z worldview shaped by mass shootings, Trump, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement: #BlackLivesMatter, mass shootings and the election of President Trump have shaped Gen Z adults’ worldview the most:

  •     The Potency of #BlackLivesMatter: No recent political event has registered more with Gen Z adults, relative to older generations, than the #BlackLivesMatter movement. 52% say the #BlackLivesMatter movement had a major impact on their worldview, and another 27% say it has had a minor impact
  •         For certain Gen Z adults demographics, it’s even higher: 62% of women, 64% of Democrats, and 64% of African-Americans say the movement had a major impact


Gen Z adults have a news diet entirely unlike any other generation: Roughly half of Gen Z adults (49%) get most of their news from social media, compared to 17% for all other adults. Twelve percent of Gen Z gets most of their news on television, compared to 42% of all other adults.

  •     TV news consumption lower for Gen Z adults than older generations: For example, Gen Z adults are over 10 points less likely to watch traditional broadcast networks (CBS, NBC, ABC) than older generations
  •     Digital-first publications are popular: Gen Z adults are most likely to use digital-first news publications such as Buzzfeed, Daily Mail, Vox, and NY Magazine on a weekly basis, relative to older Americans


Jeffree Star, Kardashians, Tati Westbrook are among the most influential celebrity endorsements: Jeffree Star, the Kardashians family, Beyonce, Lebron James, Rihanna and Tati Westbrook are among the most influential celebrities for Gen Z adults when it comes to product endorsements.

  •     Gen Z adults shopping habits: In-store shopping is still the most popular option for the youngest consumers (48%), particularly women (55%)
  •     Over half of Gen Z adults (53%) say there are brands they are loyal to, compared to 61% of all other adults
  •     Price and quality and the most important factors driving brand loyalty
  •     Beware the memes: More than a third of Gen Z adults say they’ve mocked brands online in the past year for political reasons
  •         Liberals are more likely to boycott: Thirty-nine percent of self-described Gen Z liberals say they’ve stopped paying for a company’s products because of a political stance in the past year, compared to 20 percent of moderates and 22 percent of conservatives


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