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Meet Gen Z

Composed of seven distinct segments, Generation Z is the most diverse generation of Canadians yet in terms of their values. They’re also the most diverse ethnoculturally. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that they score high on many of the values that show fluency with different types of people: they’re at ease in a multicultural society, and say they take pleasure in learning from others and exploring what different cultures have to offer, from food to ideas. Members of Gen Z share many of Gen Y’s more optimistic and adaptable traits: they’re comfortable navigating a complex and rapidly changing world, and have the confidence to express themselves as they move through life. One change they’re ready to tackle head on is climate change: this cohort registers the highest ecological concern of any group of Canadians. As the group that expects to be on this planet the longest, they can’t afford to be fatalistic about the environment.

Gen Z Icon

Meet Gen Z

Composed of seven distinct segments, Generation Z is the most diverse generation of Canadians yet in terms of their values. They’re also the most diverse ethnoculturally. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that they score high on many of the values that show fluency with different types of people: they’re at ease in a multicultural society, and say they take pleasure in learning from others and exploring what different cultures have to offer, from food to ideas. Members of Gen Z share many of Gen Y’s more optimistic and adaptable traits: they’re comfortable navigating a complex and rapidly changing world, and have the confidence to express themselves as they move through life. One change they’re ready to tackle head on is climate change: this cohort registers the highest ecological concern of any group of Canadians. As the group that expects to be on this planet the longest, they can’t afford to be fatalistic about the environment.

Click on a segment to learn more about the values that define them.

Egalitarian
Idealists

Reflective
Realists

Optimistic
Observers

Dutiful
Accomplishers

Earnest
Strivers

Guarded
Independents

Hustling
Hedonists

Earnest
Strivers

Guarded
Independents

Hustling
Hedonists

Egalitarian Idealists

Egalitarian Idealists

Who They Are

Egalitarian Idealists have optimistic views of the world and they strive to lead change. They are least likely to blindly follow what they consider outdated norms, and are strong advocates for the betterment of the world. Focused on helping others and the environment, they want to be involved and actively try to express their values in daily life. They score high on social responsibility, ecological concern and ethical consumerism. Having a job that provides social value is critical to their sense of a progressive and socially responsible identity. These are empathic ‘global citizens.’ They’re guided by a strong moral compass and feel called to do the right thing for its own sake, not for recognition. These young people are more spiritual than religious. They want to have a purpose and leave a legacy, doing both in a way that is authentic to them and lets their creativity and personality shine through.

Demographic Highlights

More likely to have both parents born outside of Canada

Likely university graduate

More likely to live in newer suburban area

Reflective Realists

Reflective Realists

Who They Are

Reflective Realists are a worldly group, bringing a critical lens to many aspects of life. They are not pessimistic, however, in their critical nature – and are likely to be open-minded. These are individualists who are carefully looking out for themselves in ways large and small. Many are on a spiritual quest and feel that they re-charge while they are in nature. It’s not surprising, then, that these young people believe strongly in environmental protection.This group is often anxious about income, and they feel some alienation from society, scoring higher than others on anomie/aimlessness. Reflective Realists tend to reject authority. Perhaps because of their skepticism about what they’re told, these are discriminating consumers – researching purchases and not taking product descriptions at face value. They critically scrutinize small details and fine print. They have a harder time than some of their age peers envisioning their futures. Their financial anxiety (this group feels more financially precarious than any other Gen Z segment) may contribute to their uncertainty about the future.

Demographic Highlights

Least likely to hold a bachelor’s or graduate degree

More likely to not align with any religion

More likely to live in older suburban areas

Optimistic Observers

Optimistic Observers

Who They Are

Optimistic Observers can be characterized as happy homebodies; spaces and don’t have a strong sense of social or worldly obligations. They are not inclined to explore the world in search of new experiences. They are comfortable working their day job and confident they are on the right track. They aren’t concerned with social perceptions of themselves and are happy where they are. This group is more likely to connect to friends online. Optimistic Observers believe in working hard to get ahead; since this group scores high on individualistic values, “getting ahead” partly means achieving greater freedom and autonomy. They hold a personally optimistic outlook as well as a post-materialist mindset, taking a live-and-let-live approach to the world around them. They are apathetic about brands and new consumer options and are not concerned about social appearance. The Optimistic Observer is the “low-key” or “chill” friend in the group.

Demographic Highlights

More likely to have both parents born in Canada

Most likely in unskilled labour

More likely to live in small town/rural

Dutiful Accomplishers

Dutiful Accomplishers

Who They Are

Dutiful Accomplishers are likely to be more conforming and feel a strong sense of duty. They are optimistic and hopeful individuals, living by a general belief that things will work out. Their key priority is making their families proud. Less focused on deriving purpose from their work. Dutiful Accomplishers are concerned about taking large strides in their careers and school; one reason for this focus on achievement is that they care very much how they are perceived by others.For these young people, one path to social esteem is doing one’s duty. With more conservative political views, they are likely to be religious, be involved in their communities, and express a feeling of belonging in those communities. They also feel a sense of belonging to their country, expressing more national pride than many of their age peers. Dutiful Accomplishers respect authority and believe that rules in society are meant to be followed. But while they might be wary of social change, they are enthusiastic about technological change, embracing the possibilities that technology presents for the world and for their own lives.

Demographic Highlights

Likely to have at least one parent born outside of Canada
Most likely to work in a professional or administrative role
More likely to vote Conservative

Earnest Strivers

Earnest Strivers

Who They Are

The Earnest Strivers work hard to satisfy their desire for success and stability. Part of their recipe for success is keeping an even keel: this group has a strong ability to keep their emotions under control.This group of young people show signs of a slightly internal struggle – they are low on personal optimism and despite their achievements, they tend to feel self- doubt and even symptoms of “imposter syndrome.” It may be this lack of confidence that leads them to feel a little disconnected from society: they score high on anomie/aimlessness, and their efforts are predicated on an internal, as opposed to external, pressure to succeed. They seem to reason that by working hard and constantly building their resume of accomplishments, they’ll be able to prove to themselves and others that they’re worthy of respect. They require stability in traditional modes such as their ability to save for a home and are likely to save on principle; still, they’re more likely than their age peers to worry about their financial future. Earnest Strivers are likely to stick to simple ways of doing things: they are averse to complexity and tend to be more close-minded to new ideas to new ideas unless those ideas are supported by concrete evidence they find persuasive.

Demographic Highlights

More likely to have both parents born in Canada
Significantly more likely to have a post-graduate degree
Higher concentration in rural areas

Guarded Independents

Guarded Independents

Who They Are

Guarded Independents like to challenge themselves and hold high levels of personal optimism – they are confident, hardworking and enjoy the pursuit of a personal challenge. They are more likely to stick to a core group of trusted friends than to flexibly explore new social contacts, and their more solitary nature makes them likely to need a solo recharge, such as hiking in nature. These young people pursue intensity in all areas of life – work and personal. They prefer to stick to their own ways of thinking and are less likely to demonstrate open-mindedness. They aim to keep their lives simple and prefer familiar routines to change and variation. The guarded element of their characters means they are often less accepting of differences in identity and perspective when it comes to race and gender. They also express greater indifference to violence than many of their age peers, seeing violence as part of life. Guarded Independents have a strong sense of emotional control, seeking to maintain a stoic image.

Demographic Highlights

Less likely to be an immigrant
More likely to have a post-graduate degree
More likely to live in newer suburban areas

Hustling Hedonists

Hustling Hedonists

Who They Are

Hustling Hedonists work hard and play hard, while seeking ways to express themselves and earn others’ admiration. They crave external validation of their achievements, partly because their own personal value system and worldview is a work in progress. They are more reactive than proactive in their engagement with the world: they’re more likely to be foot soldiers in a social movement than to notice an issue and lead others to address it. These young people are enthusiastic consumers, reporting high levels of consumption and strong interest in brands and aesthetics. Scrambling to meet the many demands of work, society, family and friends, the Hustling Hedonists try to put their best foot forward in every area of life. They also seek intense experiences, perhaps as a break from their day-to-day struggles to look good and measure up. Their values suggest a deep streak of impulsivity and a quest for immediate gratification, hedonistic pleasure and intense emotion. “YOLO” is an everyday rallying cry for this group.

Demographic Highlights

More likely to have both parents born in Canada
Higher proportion with university education
More likely Conservative Protestant or Catholic

Take our quiz to find out which social values segment you belong to

Explore Other Generations

Elders

Pre 1945

Boomers

1945-1964

Gen X

1965-1979

Millennials

1980-1994

Gen Z

Post 1995

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