The research primarily focuses on Gen Z women ages 18 – 20, both those with children and without, to examine their attitudes compared with Millennial moms (Gen Z moms defined as those born 1997-1999; Millennial moms from 1980 and 1996). "Futurecasting Families" also includes the opinions of younger Gen Z teens, ages 13 – 17, to ensure that the study encapsulates a wider generational perspective on everything from ideals and values to technology and social media, and more. The results uncover important differences between Gen Z and their Millennial predecessors – differences that don't necessarily fit with previously held assumptions. These distinctions will require brands and retailers to adjust their thinking and approach to successfully reach the next generation of parents.
The report uncovers six key takeaways:
- The new traditionalists: Gen Z moms are carving a unique path to adulthood, emphasizing "success" as a key measure of the ideal life. But even with this younger set, some traditional values, such as marriage and teaching responsibility, still hold weight – even more so than with their Millennial mom counterparts. For example, no matter age and whether a parent, approximately one-third of Gen Z females say that "success" is a top ideal, while just one-fifth of Millennial moms say the same. On the traditional side, when asked if as children they pictured themselves getting married, more than 6 in 10 Gen Z females said that they envisioned the walk down the aisle.
- Social media is an ever-present tool: Gen Z has a very realistic, almost jaded view of social media. While they live much of their lives on these platforms, they don't necessarily love them, and being connected all the time leads to a deep fear of missing out. More than 70 percent of Gen Z girls and Gen Z women without children report that they regularly experience "FOMO." Interestingly, becoming a parent seems to soften some of that pressure – with that figure tumbling to 36 percent with Gen Z moms and dropping to 31 percent for Millennial moms.
- Higher reports of loneliness and anxiety: Likely due to the timing of the recession, and growing up in the aftermath of 9/11, Gen Zers have a more imperiled perspective than Millennials. Their own parents, Gen X, instilled a worry-filled mindset. Gen Z females, no matter age and parenthood status, are more apt to admit to being more anxious than most people (Gen Z girls: 57 percent; Gen Z women: 58 percent; Gen Z moms: 56 percent). This is in direct contrast with the emotional state of today's Millennial moms, with just 44 percent reporting similar feelings of anxiety. In addition, Gen Zers have only known a life that places pressure on them to present outwardly exciting personas on social media.
- A high value on spontaneity: Most Gen Z females idealize the notion of cutting loose on the spur of the moment, with 60 percent of 18- to 20-year-old Gen Z women – whether a parent or not – agreeing that the best things in life are spontaneous. The younger Gen Z set feel similarly, at 59 percent. With their deep engagement on social media, and their need to share these moments, it points to an opportunity for brands and retailers to engage through "surprise and delight."
- Less trust in the wisdom of the crowd: Gen Z moms trust professional reviews in line with Millennial moms (Gen Z moms: 27 percent; Millennial moms: 25 percent). However, when comparing Gen Z moms to Millennial moms, there is a precipitous decline in trust of consumer reviews on Amazon, Yelp, and the like – highlighting the need for marketers to understand the value of content in context. New Gen Z moms need help and advice on the products they buy, but they won't turn to sources that they don't know and trust.
- Open to digital advertising: No matter age or parenthood status, Gen Z females are more likely to appreciate targeted ads that are relevant to their interests than Millennial moms (Gen Z girls: 42 percent; Gen Z women: 41 percent; Gen Z moms: 46 percent; Millennial moms: 29 percent). Having grown up in an era when digital screens are the norm is a potential cause – Gen Z is simply used to these types of ad experiences. In addition, it is likely that Gen Zers have a better understanding of the value exchange between data for free content or services than their Millennial counterparts.
"In just four years, 2 out of 5 new parents in the United States will be Gen Z, so it is important that marketers begin to focus on this new generation," says Julie Michaelson, head of Global Sales for BabyCenter. "We have already heard a great deal about this up-and-coming generation – young people for whom technology is like oxygen. Facebook was created in 2004 and the iPhone hit the market just three years later, which means this generation came of age in an era when social media, apps, and other tech were readily available, if not ubiquitous. This study's results confirm some of our assumptions and busts others wide open, providing invaluable early guidance for reaching tomorrow's moms."
"We know Gen Z is the future, but exactly what that future entails is hard to figure out," says Andrew Rouse, senior director at Collage Group. "Our approach distinguishes characteristics that make Gen Z unique from those that are merely life-stage dependent. Our joint work with BabyCenter breaks new ground, providing insight into who Gen Z mothers are today, while giving a glimpse into the unique attitudes, behaviors, and values they will retain well into the future. The findings help companies avoid the myths and support more resonant engagement."