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Generation Z: Kind, tolerant and distrustful of authority

Media & Entertainment Strategies recently conducted a series of in-depth interviews with members of its Generation Z Qualitative Panel. The interviews with 13-21 year-old US residents covered a broad array of fascinating topics. Here are a few quotes and headlines.

“We’re very quick to hear things and then act on them. We don’t think about them as much and we’re quick to share it with everyone we know. If we hear something, we’re not going to keep it to ourselves. We’re gonna go onto social media and post it.”


“I feel like older people that I’ve talked to have a very difficult time understanding what it means to have a fluid gender, to have different gender identities. When it comes to sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, country of origin, I feel like all those things matter a whole lot less to us than it did to your generation.”


“With any political person, they try to cater to their group: it’s not for the people. I don’t think right now anyone really trusts a political party.”


“The girl from the Florida shooting who has a shaved head, I think that she is amazing just because she is speaking out no matter what kind of hate she’s getting from anybody, and I admire anybody who’s able to do that.”


“I didn’t actually watch it but I heard about this documentary about the founding of [BRAND REDACTED] and this greedy slimy organization. I don’t know a whole lot about it but I would never eat at [BRAND REDACTED], ever.”


“Netflix do a really good job, especially for our generation. 13 Reasons Why and these different TV shows are based on us, and they know how we feel and they kind of capture what we want to watch.”

Generation Z teens and young adults are defined by their connection to technology and each other. Their phones are not just valued and useful accessories, but are extensions of themselves. Enabled by these devices, they communicate and share with each other continually.

They perceive themselves as more open and tolerant than previous generations, particularly with regards to sexual preference and sexual identity. Related to this, kindness defines Generation Z. Being kind is a point of distinction and pride across all ages within the panel.

Generation Z does not trust those in power.

In many cases, their “heroes” are regular people who stand up for what they believe in. They are less likely to perceive celebrities and / or noteworthy elites on the national or world stage as role models, although many have a real respect for top athletes.

Generation Z is very responsive to the political and social actions of major brands. Specifically, they share this knowledge with their friends, and their brand behavior can be influenced by these corporate activities. In some cases, this acquired “knowledge” is actually based on little more than social media conversations.

When it comes to leisure time, this generation particularly those aged 18 and under, spends significantly more time with YouTube than with any other video source. Among providers of “traditional” TV and movie programming, Netflix is king. Many seem to perceive Netflix as something other than “TV.” They believe that the content they can find on Netflix is superior to that found on traditional TV networks.

They have a language that is entirely their own. Some of our favorite words and phrases include:

Our Generation Z Panel is always available for clients’ custom qualitative research projects. If you are interested in a cost-effective approach to connecting with this rising generation, please contact Rob Hunt ( or Suzanne Stinson McNeil (

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