Members Gen WE (aged 14-20) and Gen Z (21-25) are masters of platform, more self-aware, success-driven, socially-responsible and more globally-minded than any generation before them, according to The Human Project, conducted by Zeno Group in partnership with CEB Iconoculture Consumer Insights.

The international survey included 5,000 individuals in the United States, Canada, China, India, Australia and the United Kingdom, and according to Therese Caruso, managing director of global strategy and insights for Zeno, the findings provide insights into how youth think, act and behave.

 “There has never been a youth generation that looks and acts like this one, and that wields more influence,” says Caruso. “They are shaping the global conversation and workplace of the future. The only way for brands to connect is to act like a best friend—the values young people assign to their deepest relationships are the same values they want to see in brands.”

This year’s
The Human Project uncovered seven global truths which uniquely characterize the Global Youth generation and how they are shaping the world.

  1. Youth Wield Powerful Influence. There has never been a generation with more influence both inside and outside the family and this has changed the dynamic of the modern family. Seventy-eight percent of parents with children in this group feel that their kids are more involved in their family’s decisions than they themselves were as children. 
  2. The New Leadership Paradigm. Global Youth do not view leadership by the traditional, top-down mode. Rather, they prefer a lead-by-example, collaborative model – “leaders bring people together to get things done.” On a scale of 92 values, leadership is ranked extremely low at 65 or high, while equality is ranked number two by the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Australia. 
  3. Friendship Built on Values vs. Shared Interests.  Global Youth build friendships not on proximity or convenience, but on shared values, like morals, ethics and beliefs, and priorities. Thanks to this group’s strong sense of identity, peer pressure is also starting to fade. 
  4. Technology + The Love/Hate Paradox. Global Youth work to maintain a balanced relationship – not a dependency – on technology. They are keenly aware that technology can support their larger goals, but also know it can work against them. 
  5. Youth Are Health Aware, Guided by Balance. Global Youth research and educate themselves on all-around health and wellness, and they aren’t interested in “traditional diets.” Out of 92 values, health was ranked number one among Chinese youth – differing greatly from the values of their parents. 
  6. Happiness Re-Defined: The New WE/Z Happiness Equation. Global Youth view “happiness” as equal-parts balance, success and purpose. Success tops the list as the highest-ranking value among Global Youth in the U.S., Canada, U.K., India and Australia.  Purpose is overall a high-ranking value among Global Youth with parents in Canada, Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. ranking purpose significantly lower than youth. 
  7. A Brand Called “Me”: Youth vs. Brand as Status Symbol. Global Youth are passionate about brands that help to enhance and build upon their own, personal brand. In order to earn this group’s trust and loyalty, brands must understand their mindset and personal goals.

“It’s urgent that marketers understand today’s global youth,” says Kate Muhl, research director, CEB Iconoculture Consumer Insights. “Not just because they’re important consumers in their own right, but because youth are reshaping the culture in which brands are operating. It’s time for brands to take the level of research focus and priority they’ve given to Millennials and apply it to this new generation of consumers.”