Youth marketing

Youth trends and the future of Gen Z marketing: Key tips and insights

a Gen Z woman with long hair smiling into the camera
Published on
June 5, 2024
Last updated
June 5, 2024

What this article covers

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to receive the latest blog posts to your inbox every week.


By subscribing you agree to with our Privacy Policy.

Pion kicked off YMS London for the 13th time on the 5th of June.

With a record number of attendees, hundreds of incredible sessions from some of the best in the industries and an energy that could only be described as electric, day one was one for the books.

Richard Jackson, Head of Insights and Events, and Alexandra Haider, Content Executive, kicked off the first session of the morning, opening with a deep dive into Pion’s 2024 Youth Trends Report.

Here’s what you missed…

Look forwards: What's in store for Gen Z and the youth marketing industry?

Gen Z are the most technologically driven generation yet. When it comes to AI, they’re not living in the world of it: they’re actively shaping it.

They’re also worried about the future of AI when it comes to creative processes – 40% of Gen Z think that AI is a threat to creativity.

However, they’re harnessing AI as a productivity tool, with 21% already using artificial intelligence to secure their future careers.

One important takeaway (and hopefully one that brings marketers a bit of peace!): AI won’t be taking over humans anytime soon

This is good news! A lot of fear mongering exists around AI – as is the case with anything new. However, Gen Z are uncomfortable with AI as a replacement for humans. 1 in 3 of Gen Z feel uncomfortable about virtual influencers.

Travel, IRL & the experience economy

Young people have grown up during a global pandemic. They’ve grown up with a narrow view on what it means to be social – and now they want to experience life. They are digitally native, yes, but they’re gaining inspiration online, but experiences IRL. TikTok has seen a 410% increase in searches for travel-based content in the last year.

What about when it comes to putting these experiences into the real life world?

According to Pion data, 43% of Gen Z want to travel solo. 72% of Gen Z want to travel in general this year. They’re a generation who want to see the world: and they’re not afraid to do this alone.

The experience economy reigns supreme

In a post-pandemic world, experiences are back with a greater vivacity than ever. And, despite economic turmoil and a global cost-of-living crisis, young consumers are willing to part with their pennies if an experience will be unforgettable.

54% of Gen Z would spend outside their budget if the experience was a once in a lifetime one.

63% of Gen Z say that being present in the moment is more important than the cost. 

However, they’re also searching for value: 54% have shared that they want an experience to be good value for money.

When times are tough, the youth get nostalgic 

Gen Z are shooting on film, vinyl records have reached their highest level of sales since 1990, and flip phones are back in vogue. What does this mean? Why, as a generation, have Gen Z fallen into the grips of stagnation?

Well, this craving for nostalgia is a product of their circumstances. As Rick and Alex touched upon during their talk, these are really tough times young consumers are living through. War is raging across the world, there’s a global cost-of-living crisis and concern about the future of technology. As a result, Gen Z are anxious. 

87% of Gen Z shared that they commonly face feelings of anxiety. To counter this, they’re turning back the clock.

Nostalgia is manifesting in a couple of key ways. The first is through fashion and aesthetics: 94% of Gen Z are interested in 90s and Y2K fashion.

The second is through their purchasing power and spending habits. 43% of Gen Z would shop with a brand if they find that brand comforting.

Finally, it’s translating into their hobbies. Arts and crafts are now just as popular a past time for Gen Z as clubbing and bar nights. 

Constant screen time and digital connection means they’re overstimulated – nostalgia takes Gen Z back to simple times.

Gen Activist and the cancel culture debate

Brands and people can be cancelled overnight. We live in a world faced with enhanced scrutiny – where marketers fear making the wrong move. 

But is cancel culture as stringent as we make out? Well – according to Pion data, it appears not. 

34% of Gen Z don’t care if a brand doesn’t share their belief on social issues. Almost half of Gen Z (46%) would consider “uncancelling” a brand if that brand took steps to rectify their mishap. Finally, 48% of Gen Z would not consider themselves as ‘woke’.

This data might be surprising: it is often assumed that young people are activists. However, only 32% of US and 25% of UK respondents said that LGBTQIA+ issues are important to them. A shocking 27% of US Gen Zers and 24% in the UK said sustainability was important, whilst only 26% in the US and 21% in the UK are interested in supporting disability rights.

As marketers, we're quick to label. Labels help us make sense of the world – they tell us what is what. They bring us peace of mind and a sense of certainty – and in a world built on consumerism, they help marketers to target, and ultimately, to sell.

However, in this case, labelling Gen Z as activists and the most socially conscious consumers yet would be a misapprehension. Gen Z is not as woke as they’re made out to be – they’ll hold brands accountable, but one misdemeanour won’t lose your brand the purchasing power of an entire generation.

Ultimately, brands can bounce back, but not without actions as part of the clean-up. 

Ready to learn more?

The full report is officially live. Snap your digital copy up now.

3,500+ brands trust Pion

Ready to see how Pion can supercharge your sales targets?