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Gen Z

A word from Gen Z

To run a successful Marketing consultancy, a team with a mix of professional qualifications and years of experience are needed. The drawback to this is our age. Most of the team, except for Charlie, are in our late thirties and forties, so we will always have a generationally skewed view on life. Part of our ambition for 2020, is to strive to see more clearly and widen our perspective.

Prior to the restrictions imposed by lockdown, we were due to welcome A-level student Sophie Emeny from St Bede’s Sixth Form into the team for a work experience placement. This has now been postponed to a later date when we can welcome her into the office. In the meantime, we asked her if she would like to contribute to this month’s Insights. She has given us an honest and refreshing account of life in lockdown from a Gen Z perspective.

Thank you Sophie, we look forward to having you in the team when normality returns!

How I adapted in lockdown: A Gen Z perspective by Sophie Emeny

As I compose this, I should have just completed my week of work experience at Your Marketing Team. Instead, I’ve spent the last 11 weeks plodding through continuous A-Level work, stuck in my computer cave of a dining room. So, why bother reading an article authored by a 17-year-old? I think I can offer a contrasting perspective on lockdown to your own: a Generation Z view (my age group, born between 1996 and 2010).

In the first week of lockdown, I took a Joe Wicks fitness class. I then nearly fainted and couldn’t walk for two days. In those two days, I was immobile and could have given up and sunk back into my desk chair - which I inhabit for 9 hours a day, studying. Instead, I forced myself to reconsider my exercise routine and started the NHS Couch to 5K. Although this was a first for me, having never run longer than the 1 mile YMCA fun run, I appear to be in the minority. Gen Z is the most active generation, with 87% of the demographic exercising three or more times per week.* 8 weeks later and I can now run for 30 minutes, going on 3 or 4 runs a week, placing me as a part of the mentioned figure. Exercising regularly during lockdown has innovated my weekly routine, surprisingly, for the better.

During the lockdown, I have made some unusual online purchases, to the amusement of my family. This includes a custom necklace featuring my favourite actor from Depop, Teletubbies enamel pins from eBay and Animal Crossing stickers from Etsy. Although you may not have understood half the words in that sentence, they were online purchases and I was supporting small, independent businesses through e-commerce platforms. As a young person, I’m conscious of where my money goes and educating myself on the internet means I’ve become environmentally and ethically aware of the origin of my purchases. This has become a determining factor for Gen Z in recent years. ThredUp recently estimated one in three Gen Z consumers bought used clothing in 2019. We love fast fashion like H&M and Primark, but also obsess over ‘thrifting’ unique, used clothes in charity shops and markets.

I don’t know about you but studying from home with all my work being set online has meant I spend 9 hours staring at a screen has left me drained mentally and physically. Although video calls with friends were a good idea at the start of lockdown, I know many who felt like it was a chore and dreaded spending longer on a screen. This concern was how I rediscovered my love for writing letters and sending them to friends. Adding stickers, questions and thoughtful gifts in letters have made how I communicate with my friends, in these uncertain times, unexpectedly joyful. I highly encourage you to attempt it and experience the pleasure of opening a handwritten letter from a friend in replacement of a ‘how ru?’ text message.

Non-essential shops reopening on the 15th June brought excitement to my friends and I, yet we were still concerned about our safety - I was one of the few who visited Reigate on the 15th. The shop I had been longing to visit was Miwk, an independent comic book and toy shop for my coveted vinyl Star Wars stickers. These cannot be obtained online, unless in huge quantities of 100 stickers, which is why Miwk retains a special place in my shopping habits. When I spoke to the owner, Matt West, he said most of the shop’s customer base came from Reigate College; showing how influential an age group can be on the success of an independent shop. The next place I’m looking forward to visit, as restrictions ease, is my local library. The largest Surrey Libraries are reopening on 6th July and I can’t wait to borrow books on Van Gogh, feminism and the film industry which closely relate to my A-Levels of Photography, English and Media.

The end of lockdown excites and terrifies me. I’ve become used to working from home and the time for reflection, yet I also crave a new normal. If we went back to the world before lockdown, I think humanity would be taking a tremendous step back in evolving our future existence. COVID-19 has inadvertently kickstarted the opportunity to reform the terrible decisions and societal expectations from the past.

Thank you for taking the time to read this slightly self-indulgent insight into a Gen Z student’s life in lockdown, I’m sure I’ll be back when I complete my work experience at Your Marketing Team!

*2019 Les Mills Global Consumer Fitness Survey How Gen Z will shape the future of business