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Opinion and Insight

New Gen Z Research Explains 'Pivotal' Generation for Marketers

Barkley conducted a cross-generational study of more than 2000 respondents, and found an entirely new type of consumer that they’ve deemed the 'Pivotal' generation

New Gen Z Research Explains 'Pivotal' Generation for Marketers

Marketers are shifting their focus from millennials to the generation that follows them, but they’re already making a crucial mistake in how they perceive Gen Z—they’re treating them as if they’re just another form of Gen Y. 

A new study from advertising agency Barkley looked at the behavior of teens under the age of 18 and found that Gen Z, which is driving $44 billion of discretionary spending each year, combines the social values of the millennials with the work ethic of baby boomers. 

Barkley conducted a cross-generational study of more than 2000 respondents, and found an entirely new type of consumer that they’ve deemed the “Pivotal” generation. Earnest, hardworking and driven by traditional views of success (money, education, career) they resemble boomers in their attitudes. But this generation is writing new rules that favor liberal – almost radical – viewpoints on things like race, gender, identity and sexuality. 

Whereas Millennials dreamed of changing the world, Pivotals are actually follow a much more practical approach. 


Barkley interviewed people about things such as views on self, society and planet; brand expectations; media habits; shopping habits; and information access. 

This is what they told us: 


We want to work for our success, not be discovered 

69% of Pivotals believe that success is a matter of hard work and has little or nothing to do with luck compared to 63% of Millennials, 58% of Gen X and 55% of Boomers 

53% of Pivotals agree success is the most important thing in life compares to 46% of Millennials, 35% of Gen X and 31% of Boomers 

85% of Pivotals believe “grades in school” are the most important thing (more important than time relaxing and hanging out with friends)


We believe that equality is non-negotiable 

72% of Pivotals consider racial equality to be the most important issue today, 64% say gender equality and 48% say sexual orientation equality 

60% of Pivotals will support brands that take a stand on issues they believe in regarding human rights, race and sexual orientation 

Environmentalism is not as big of a concerning issues among Pivotals. They trail all other generations when asked about what areas of environmental policy are most important. 


We want brands to be real so we can be unique 

31% of Pivotals would rather be considered “unique” than “real”

58% of Pivotals prefer to create their own fashion statement 

49% of Pivotals would pay extra for a product that is consistent with the image they want to present 

77% of Pivotals like ads that show real people in real situations 


We have our own system of rules and etiquette for how we use social media—unlike millennials, Pivotals tend to undershare on social media

Facebook – information hub 

Twitter – real-time engagement 

Instagram – aspirational platform 

Snapchat – real life 

You can check out the results in more detail below:

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Genre: PR , Strategy/Insight