How to Understand Gen Z: A Design Guide

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Trying to understand Gen-Z is like trying to find a four-leaf clover. Hard, but not impossible. 

Lucky for you, we have made the ultimate Gen Z-er design guide. 

Background

First, let’s start with the basics. Gen-Zers, or as they are more recently known, “zoomers,” are the children of Gen-X. They succeed Millennials and precede Gen Alpha. Gen-Zers are born in the mid-to-late 1990s through the early 2010s and overwhelmingly come from urban and suburban environments (only 13% live in rural America). Gen-Zers are the most ethnically and racially diverse generation and the most open to gender identities. They are also more open to pursuing college than other generations.

In total, there are about 67.1 million members of Gen-Z. It is also important to remember that members of Gen-Z are digital natives, meaning they have grown up with technology and have a pretty advanced understanding of social media

Medium.com reported:

“Our research into this audience supports other industry findings that they have a strong level of self-direction. Having held the answer to almost any question in the palm of their hands from the day they were born, they’re able to find whatever they want without the help of intermediaries. Self-reliant and innovators — they’re fuelled by their experiences (good or bad) and able to affect change through the digital spaces they occupy. Design is ‘empowering’ for this audience [Gen Z]; and design presented in such a way, as to encourage personal growth and the capacity to shape their surroundings, clearly resonates with them.”

COLOR PALETTE

The older end of Gen-Z tends to follow millennial trends closely. This includes the muted colors and pastels like “spearmint,” green, and blush pink. Also, like millennial colors, Gen-Zers rely heavily on the 80s and 90s trends; bright and bold colors are typical (including neon).

On the other hand, younger members of Gen-Z are taking almost the opposite approach as millennial 80s/90s nostalgia: retro-classic palettes from the 50s and 60s are coming back alongside fashions from that time. This includes colors like olive greens, magentas, maroon, orange, and various purples. Gen-Z yellow (a bright and sunny color) is already being labeled as the next trend that will rival millennial pink. 

FONTS

As it relates to fonts, “Designing for Gen Z is not just about making things look appealing — it must be about how a brand allows them to live their lives with efficiency. Digital design that delivers a slick online experience is the only way to engender their loyalty. Design needs to be as digitally intuitive as they are. Similarly, design without function does not cut it with this audience” (medium.com). Essentially, fonts need to be sharp and digestible and should use legible typefaces that work across all forms of media. 

DESIGN

Stereotypical design elements and imagery do not resonate with this audience; because they are digital natives, they have an online presence and consumer pattern that is more mature than their age. Don’t make the design feel younger than the target audience, as they won’t engage with it. Images and language can help to create an instant emotional connection.

Gen-Zers wants content that feels real, personal, casual, and informative. In order to cut through the noise, use short videos, image sequences, images with text overlays, and quotes. This will result in more engagement and purchase decisions. Most importantly, make everything instantly shareable. Going viral across different platforms and becoming a trending and influential brand or product is a huge sales factor for members of Gen-Z.

MOOD BOARD

If a picture is worth a thousand words, these must be worth a million.

Female

Male

Non-binary

It’s hard to pinpoint an overarching Gen-Z aesthetic because part of the beauty of being a Gen-Zer is that everyone is different, and that is accepted and appreciated.

You made it through the design guide. Here’s the four-leaf clover. It was hard to find, but not impossible. Lucky you! 

If you’re interested in reaching your audience of Gen-Zers, feel free to contact us. Open Influence is a global influencer agency full of creative thinkers and social media gurus. Drop us an email at social@openinfluence.com or message us on any of our social media channels.

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