Gen Z and the Ever-Evolving Drivers of Stress

Gen Z is the next segment of people generating buzz among marketers and researchers trying to build products and services that better meet consumer needs. What is unique about this cohort? Who are they and what’s happening in their lives? And since we regularly hear about the stress, what ARE their drivers of stress?

Taking advantage of artificial intelligence to deliver qualitative results at quantitative scale, we conducted 15-minute qualitative interviews with 200 people. We talked about their lives, their stressors, and what people don’t understand about them.

This research comes on the heels of our recent landmark study conducted in conjunction with 747 Insights and Collaborata available here:GENERATION NATION 2019: Defining America’s Gen Z, Millennials, Generation X and Boomers.’  Using AI interviews with more than 4,000 participants in these four cohorts, we cut to the core of what it means to be an American in 2019. Our research illustrates that generational values are shifting at a faster pace than ever before. Hence the need to focus more carefully on Gen Z.

As part of this new research, we set out to understand the way the generations see each other and themselves. And the incongruencies are eye-opening.

The top three ways Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers describe Gen Z are tech-savvy, self-centered, and lazy. Perhaps you’ve heard those stereotypes already. On the other hand, the top three ways Gen Zers describe themselves are tech-savvy, diverse, and stressed-out.

Language experts might look more closely at these word choices and wonder why people from older generations, those who are supposed to be the mentors and support system for these stressed people, are choosing to label them as self-centered and lazy. It’s a shame.

As reported in Generation Nation, Gen Z is the most diverse American cohort ever. They’re the most accepting of diversity and they challenge deep-seeded social inequities. And, because they’re the first generation born entirely post-internet, they only know a time when content from around the world, from any country, from any group of people, was always immediately available.

So for sure, this group is tech-savvy and diverse.

In Generation Nation, we also learned a lot about how passionately Gen Zers value diversity.

  • “Race and gender equality are big trends today that I feel are taking up huge political uprisings and many protests to take place over those issues.”
  • “Cultural shifts that I am noticing are how people are more open now than ever to diversity, either with gender or race. Just at the place I work I’ve seen many more interracial couples than ever and it’s a good thing to see.”

But it’s also important to remember that this generation is aged 13 to 21 so that in addition to values that are diverse, they also have incredible developmental diversity.

Some are young, and stressed with school and activities:

  • “I am a student at a junior high school. I love video games. I am a big fan of Super Smash Bros. series and am quite good at their games. I love my Nintendo Switch and play on it every day. Sometimes I invite my friends over to my house and we play together.”
  • “I’m 18 and currently in high school. I’m taking AP Art and I enjoy creative things and crafting or painting.”

Some are stressed from working on their future:

  • “I’m a college student in my second year at the University of California, Los Angeles. I’m studying philosophy and cognitive science in the hopes of going to law school in the future.”
  • “I’m a college senior studying French and Japanese!!! I love travelling and learning random facts. My goal someday is to open a tea store in Kyoto.”

Some are stressed from being fully immersed in the Real World:

  • “I am married and have two sons. I work for a flower shop and live in Texas.”
  • “I am a full-time employee and newly married. My life consists mostly of working 40 hours a week and spending time at home. I also spend quite a bit of my time volunteering at our church.”

Clearly, Gen Zers are dealing with a wide range of stressors. But can they envision a future with more management stress, one they can be happy about? Download the full “Beneath the Trend: Gen Z and Stress” report to learn more. Enjoy!


Beneath the Trend is a series of research studies aimed to learn more about consumer and marketing trends. Leveraging Quester’s artificial-intelligence moderator, we conducted 200 qualitative conversations with Gen Zers aged 13 to 21 incorporating customized probing, in-depth language reviews, and quantified qualitative language analysis to quickly deliver rich, qualitative insights about a current trend.

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Quester® is award-winning consumer intelligence firm that uses proprietary artificial intelligence technologies to conduct multi-lingual qualitative research on a quantitative scale. We specialize in yielding superior consumer understanding in areas such as innovation, concept development, brand positioning, segmentation, and path to purchase. Our online software-based moderator and analytical software probes deep into participant thought processes, analyzes responses, and allows researchers to make wise business decisions grounded in data, and has netted Quester an EXPLOR Award from the TMRE and an Ogilvy Award from The ARF. Learn about our DIY tools on our website.

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  • Quester

    Quester is an award-winning consumer intelligence firm that harnesses the power of human conversation, artificial intelligence technology, and expert marketing research design to yield superior understanding of consumers for clients.

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