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According to the most recent U.S. Census and population projections, Gen Z (age 10-25) now makes up 20% of the U.S. population, and this youngest generation is increasingly racially and ethnically diverse. At the same time, Gen Z has strong perspectives on identity in general, including race and ethnicity.
In order to help brands understand how to serve Gen Zers, we must go beyond asking race and ethnicity questions and shift our thinking about identity. We need to understand how being asked demographic questions about identity in surveys makes Gen Z feel. Logica Research and The Insights Association’s IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access) Council and other industry organizations have taken the first steps in learning about Gen Zer’s feelings in a survey of nearly 5,000 Americans across generations, gender, geographies, and race and ethnicity. This collaborative research-on-research initiative has identified how to best ask (or not ask) demographic questions.
This first wave of this IDEA Council study on how to ask about race and ethnicity showed that significantly more Gen Zers reacted negatively to race and ethnicity questions, saying these questions made them feel confused (27%), frustrated (24%) and offended (20%). This is a clear indicator that you need to consider what is driving this negative reaction, and to find a better solution for Gen Z in order to engage them in research efforts.
Negative reactions were driven by not being provided with answer choices that truly reflect their race and ethnicity. It is critical that Gen Z be given the option to not identify a specific race or ethnicity, or the ability to choose from a range of descriptive answer options where they can find themselves.
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