Get to Know: Gen Z



Mystified by the young people in your life?

Do you adore the teens and young adults in your life—but sometimes find them hard to understand? Do you want to communicate and connect meaningfully with a Gen Zer, but find yourself stumped by the world of TikTok & Snapchat? Are the young people in your life, well, kind of a mystery?

If so, you’re definitely not alone.

Every generation has its own unique take on the world, and of course its own challenges relating to the generations that come before and after. Shifts in cultural norms, emerging social movements, communications, and warp speed advancements in technology have further widened this gap in recent decades. It might seem like older and younger generations have never been further apart from each other.

 And then, there’s the holiday season: often filled with joy, but also a sense of pressure, right? It can be such a puzzle, during this time of giving, to figure out the perfect gesture for each of our loved ones—especially the younger people in our lives.

Not to worry; we’ve got you.

Imagine this: What if the holiday season, rather than being yet another stumbling block, offered a doorway? What if the gift-giving tradition were a unique opportunity to understand the young people in your life more deeply, to help them to understand you, and to connect with each other in a meaningful way?

 That’s what we’re here for. TisBest has done the research, scoped out the landscape, and is here to help you understand a little bit more about what it is that Generation Z wants and how to connect with them.

 So, who is Gen Z?

Let’s start with the basics. Generation Z (Gen Z) spans young people born between 1995 and 2010 (in other words, everyone in your life currently between the ages of 10 and 25 years old). Just like every generation, this is a group that’s comprised of unique individuals who in general share a unique set of perspectives and characteristics that influence how they perceive and interact with the world.

 According to data by McKinsey Research, Gen Zers share several defining behaviors in common. They:

  • value individual expression over labels.
  • mobilize for causes.
  • believe in the power of dialogue to bridge differences and make the world a better place.
  • are analytical and pragmatic in how they relate to institutions.

In other words, the Gen Zers in your life are likely looking for ways to express themselves as individuals and support the causes that they’re passionate about—perhaps even to support those causes as a way to express themselves. They also value understanding what other people care about, and look to meaningful conversation as a way of bridging the gap with people who hold perspectives different from their own.

How Gen Z Consumes

According to the research, Gen Zers are also likely to want their buying choices to line up with their values. Consumption, for them, is a means of self-expression and individual identity. This includes their ethical concerns. Therefore they align with companies that stand for the causes that they themselves believe in, and they expect companies to take stands on specific issues. Their tendency to be highly pragmatic and analytical when it comes to consumption means that they analyze not only what they consume, but the very act of consumption: in other words, asking “What does my consumption say about me as an individual, and how does my consumption impact the world around me?”

Another defining feature of Gen Z is that they are the first-ever generation of “true digital natives,” having been exposed to modern digital technology, social networks, and mobile devices from youth. This means that they’re WAY more comfortable with digital platforms and currency than many of the rest of us. Consumption no longer necessarily means physical currency and product. It can also mean ideas, values, individuality, and access.

What does all this mean? How do I relate to my Gen Zer?

What does this all add up to—especially for those of us who love our Gen Zers and want to connect with them? Well, it might just mean that there are more opportunities to meaningfully relate to one another than appear on the surface.

Start by asking yourself: Do you care about service? Do you volunteer in your community, or help your neighbors? Are there causes that you’re passionate about now, or were when you were younger? How have these causes helped to shape your identity? 

It’s likely that the young people in your life hold causes close to their hearts, too. 

Try connecting using curiosity-driven dialogue.

We know from the research that dialogue is valued by Gen Z—so, let’s try relating to one another by sharing our unique purposes through open-hearted conversation.

The next time you’re spending time with one of the young people you love, you might try starting a conversation with something like “I’d love to learn more about what you’re passionate about. What are you working toward these days?” Then, listen, with curiosity, as well as an open mind and heart. You may not share the same causes—but you’ll likely find commonalities in how passionate you each are about making the world a better place.

Link that dialogue to action!

An even more powerful gesture: pair that conversation starter with the gift of purposeful action. When you give a charity gift card, you’re opening the door to meaningful action and dialogue—an opportunity to empower your loved one to act on what’s meaningful to them, to share what’s important to each other, and perhaps even to come to understand one another in a deeper way. We hear consistently about conversations with children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews relating to treasured causes ranging from “helping the turtles” to “supporting human rights.”

With a TisBest charity gift card, remember that you’re also giving your recipient the opportunity to choose their causes, rather than you choosing their causes for them. Remember how much Gen Z values crafting their individual identities? What better way to encourage a young person to express their individuality than by helping them to support the causes they care about? They’ll also have direct access to their social media communities to share the news of their charitable giving.

Work together for a brighter future.

Now, more than ever, it’s so important to find what unites us in the midst of what seems to divide us. Let’s use this opportunity to learn from each other—to listen to what the young people in our lives have to say, to share with each other what we hope for the future of the world, and to honor how we’re working in our own ways toward that bright future.

This season of giving, ask your young people what they care about, what they’re working toward, and what their hopes are. Then, equip them to make the differences that they’re passionate about! Give them the currency they need and open the door to a shared, meaningful experience—an experience that might just bridge the gap between generations.