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Asia’s Gen Z: How they are different

The Gen Z are the next big market. The cohort born between 1997 and 2012 is expected to make up a quarter of Asia-Pacific’s population by 2025. And with the oldest of the generation turning 24 this year, they will increasingly make their presence felt in the workforce and consumer markets.

Here in this article, we take a look at what sets the Gen Z in Asia-Pacific apart from other generations and what those differences mean for businesses and employers.

They are true digital natives

Having mostly grown up with the internet and smartphones, the Zoomers as they are also called, are true digital natives. Hyperconnected, they spend a great amount of time on digital devices.

In Southeast Asia, those 16 to 24 years of age spend about 60% of their waking lives online. Based on data from GWI, people in the age group use internet-connected devices 10 hours a day on average or nearly three days of every week. The amount of time is four times more than what they spend on television, including watching Netflix. 

Social media activities are the number one online activity of the group, even ahead of search. Youtube, Facebook and Instagram are their favorite platforms.

There are differences across markets in Asia-Pacific. In Japan, Line is the most used social media platform followed by Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. In terms of general online activity, young people in Japan spend the most time on video-sharing websites (60% of respondents) and play a lot of games (51%). 

In Vietnam, 99% of respondents have a Facebook account and 77% have the local social networking app Zalo.

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They believe they can influence brands 

According to the ‘Truth About Generation Z’ study by McCann Worldgroup, Asia-Pacific youth value creativity and brand empathy.

Globally, 74% of Gen Zs believe they have the power to influence a brands’ actions for the better. In Asia-Pacific, this is held by 89% of respondents. Singapore and Indonesia top the list at 91% and 95%, respectively.

While half of Gen Z respondents worldwide believe social media gives people a voice, in most Asian markets, the view is more strongly held. For example, in Singapore, 74% believe this. 

Also, 77% of the region’s Zoomers agree that they have a responsibility to make a positive contribution to their community.

The belief that they can influence brands is also much higher in Asia-Pacific markets — at least 80% in China, Indonesia and South Korea — than the global average of 69%.

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Videos influence their decisions

Compared to other cohorts, Gen Zers consume significantly more video media on YouTube, TikTok or other platforms. This influences how they choose brands and products, according to a report by McKinnsey on what makes Asia-Pacific’s Gen Z different. 

Based on its survey of the Gen Z in six countries – Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and Thailand, majorities of the zoomers, and 70% overall, said they learned about new brands from video-based social media at least once a month. In contrast, the overall shares of millennials and the Gen X were lower at 58% and 46%, respectively.

This means that brands aiming to reach Generation Z should ensure they have video as part of their marketing strategy.

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They are open to the gig economy, remote work

Many Gen Z don’t hold the same views on the ways of working as older generations do, so companies hiring from this cohort should consider more flexible ways of working.

In Singapore, 54% of Gen Z workers would choose to work in full-time traditional employment over part-time or contract roles, compared to a national average of 76%, according to the ADP Research Institute’s People at Work 2021: A Global Workforce View report. 

On why they would care for part-time or contract employment, a third (32 percent) cited concerns about the job security offered by traditional employment as compared to gig work or freelancing. 

Gen Z workers are also less likely to want a return to the office than older workers. Just 26% of Gen Z workers want a complete return to the office, while 36% of ages 45-54 and 45 percent of ages over 55 years choose this option.

In general, younger workers seek to increase their efforts to network and develop their contacts within their organizations, with three in 10 (30%) Generation Z workers and four in 10 (40%) of younger Millennials (aged 25-34).

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They need a little more care

Also, employers of Gen Z may need to pay extra attention to the group as they are coming into the workforce at a stressful time.

A survey of 1,226 Gen Zs (aged 18 to 24 years) across Australia, China, Hong Kong and Singapore shows 73% of Gen Zs across those markets are experiencing elevated stress levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, 57% say their mental health has worsened. 

Additionally, nearly four in five (79%) face overwhelming stress monthly or more frequently, with 28% experiencing this weekly and 11% daily.

When looking at the sources of overwhelming stress for Gen Z across Asia-Pacific, family pressures (65%) followed by career pressures (48%) and relationships with friends (41%) rank highest.

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