"Trend" editors who simply don't have the pulse, irrelevant brands, cheugy marketing teams, cringy focus groups — just make it stop. Yes, we know we aren't easy to keep up with, but maybe that's the point.
As someone who has been in way too many Gen Z focus groups and sat in a plethora of marketing meetings where they practically begged the interns for input, I am not ashamed to say that I am probably more frustrated with this issue than most of my generation. Because, at a certain point, you get tired of being treated like a cultural lab rat. I completely understand that publications and brands need to capitalize on trends in order to further their businesses and do their jobs. However, it is starting to feel like Gen Z isn't even the name of a generation but a marketing buzzword.
The beauty of our generation is in the complexity. Due to literally growing up on technology, social media, and having an amazing amount of access to the world, we are a generation who knows no limits.
We don't have the issue of not seeing unique and unconventional ways to be successful. We don't have the issue of not being able to see what's out there virtually. We can be in Los Angeles and get inspired by a fashion trend in Europe within a day. We can watch vlogs from travel content creators who explore the world and make a living off of literally experiencing life. We can see a 20-year-old entrepreneur on the Forbes list. We can see people like Alix Earle make more in undergrad than our parents' salaries. That's what makes us special. We know no limits.
When other generations consider us lazy, I ask them, "Are we lazy, or do we just work smarter?" When other generations consider us scatterbrained and all over the place, I ask them, "Are we scatterbrained, or are we multi-faceted because we know we can be?" When other generations think we are overly obsessed with technology, I ask them, "Are we obsessed with tech, or do we realize that we can change our lives at the touch of our fingers?" And when they say that we want instant gratification, I ask them, "Do we want instant gratification, or do we now want to submit to the struggle mentality that past generations hold onto so tightly?"
Once publications and brands finally realize the complexity of our generation, they will find out that the best way to understand our generation is to get comfortable with passing the torch to us, not just by asking interns in meetings to spill the tea but by empowering us and amplifying our voices and ideas. What's funny about most of these marketing teams, editors, and market research consultants is that they are all in older generations. They are actively fighting to simplify who we are because past generations were simpler. But that cannot be done. We cannot be simplified.