Three Things Gen Z Is Bringing Back
A post by Connor Blakley

Millennials have become dubbed the experiential generation and are known for valuing outrageous adventures over lavish purchases. With the growth of Generation Z, this trend has completely flipped. Gen Z not only care more about products than experiences, but they want quality over quantity.

Growing up in the Dot Com Boom, Millennials became infatuated with the ideal of standing out, being cool, and living the “unicorn” lifestyle. Conversely, Gen Z came of age during the financial crises of the 2000’s and knew hardship more than the usual youth generation. This drastically real sense of a dollar’s worth means Gen Z wants the biggest bang for their buck: no fleeting splurges and no cheap substitutes.

Chasing the greatest sense of quality possible for their purchases, Generation Z has brought back a variety of product trends otherwise left for dead. While Millennials might have seen these products as old-fashioned, Gen Z understands the superior quality to be had with these product purchases.

Hardcover books

Generation Z is defined by a knowledge of money management and need for hustling to make ends meet. Additionally, this hustle culture has made entrepreneurship a booming industry with over half of Gen Z holding entrepreneurial ambitions. Combining this with network connectivity and Generation Z has become filled with “digital nomads” who provide consulting services to startups and corporations, all from the convenience of their bed or local coffee shop.

Succeeding as a digital nomad is reliant on having a wealth of knowledge to fall back on for ideation and value creation. In this sense, hardcover books have become linked with knowledge and in turn success.

While softcover books or ebooks may provide similar functions for delivering information, the feeling of holding a hardcover book and then later adding it to a shelf of stored knowledge is a premium experience for Gen Z. Their point in history is here to stay and their experience is tangible, so they want their books to embody a similar pathos.

Polaroid cameras

With the progression of photography from film to digital to smartphones and eventually the explosion of Instagram for easy editing and sharing, many view Polariods as either novelty conversation pieces or relics for museum shelves, but Gen Z knows otherwise.

A picture tells a thousand words and so adding a unique voice to the image is crucial to telling a worthwhile story. Generation Z grew up with social media and smart phones at their fingertips and authenticity quickly became their forte. Given a few moments to check out a company or person’s social media channels will allow for Generation Z to understand this firm or individual and all of their flaws in communication.

Furthermore, after being exposed to more advertisements than any other cohort of people in history, Gen Z is able to filter through massive amounts of information quickly and relies on authentic unique voices to determine the brightest stars in the bunch.

Polaroids offer a more individualized experience for photography versus the mass posting approach of online sharing. They also instinctively have a nostalgia woven into the paper they are printed on that brings a smile to people’s faces and adds an element to the moments that otherwise would not be present. These features make Polaroids a powerful medium for Gen Z to capture their favorite experiences of everyday life.

Record players

Many do not realize the degradation of sound quality associated with converting a human voice into a digital file. Records better capture the innate quiver of human voices and preserves a quality in the audio otherwise lost in the tiny files purchased over iTunes.

Eager to promote digital advancement and gain the benefits of 10,000 songs in your pocket, Millennials perhaps abruptly overlooked the potential difference in listening experience of an mp3 versus a physical record. Gen Z however is in love with music and is pushing back to bring about an audio culture which values sound integrity and high quality audio experiences. Musicians have picked up on this trend and now will usually offer records in addition to digital files, when distributing their music.

Recent years have also spurred the development of electronic music, with producers such as, Avicii, Diplo, Kygo, and others promoting a style of music reliant on “scratching” and mixing pieces of records into a fluid song or set of songs. Manipulation of beats and melodies falls in line with the Gen Z ideal of high quality products with unique sentiments and also requires physical records for the end result to be true-to-form.

Overall, Generation Z knows what they want and what their authentic voice and passion is. Despite enduring economic hardship early on, the young demographic has grown to learn the value of a dollar, the importance of education and hard work, and the benefits of premium products. Going against trends and prioritizing quality has led to the resurgence of hardcover books, Polaroid pictures, and record players amongst these youngsters.