When Does Gen Z Start?

November 12, 2020

By Katherine Williams

Generation Z is clearly unique. Growing up in a fast-paced world of constant connectivity and technological innovation, members of Gen Z could not be more different from their millennial and Generation-Alpha counterparts. But who even is Gen Z? When does Gen Z start? Are they five or 25 years old? Understanding the age range of Gen Z helps brands engage with young people in a more authentic and knowledgeable way. 


Generation Z is generally defined as being born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s. However, Pew Research Center has set a more specific time frame of 1996 as the start of Gen Z. This 1996 beginning is extremely important for understanding Generation-Z trends, culture, and consumer behavior.


First of all, the year 1996 marks the separation between which generation can remember the September 11 attacks and which generation knows it only as a historical event. Millennials were at least six years old, but most of Gen Z wasn’t even alive. Gen Z has grown up in a post-9/11 world marked by political instability, meaning that Gen Z is disillusioned by politics but also committed to activism, reform, and social justice.


The 1990s also saw the age of the internet explosion, ensuring that Generation Z would grow up immersed in the constant connection, media, and access to information on the internet. Members of Generation Z have never lived in a world without the internet, a defining factor of the generation. Gen Z is full of digital experts adept at using the internet for research, social media, gaming, shopping, and more. Understanding how to authentically communicate online is extremely important with Gen-Z consumers because they know the world through the internet.


While the exact date of when Generation Z began has been debated among researchers and in pop culture, the general consensus is 1996, or the mid-90s. Gen Z has grown up easily navigating the interactions between the real world and virtual world, and often blurring the lines between them. In a post-9/11 world of political unrest, Gen Z is also a politically alive generation and wants to make a difference in the world. Each generation is distinct in how they interact with the world, and the context surrounding when Gen Z started helps explain why Gen Z is unique. Knowing that this generation is unique and truly understanding the mindset of Gen Z is what makes brands successful for these young consumers.

Adolescent Content, a global marketing agency run by Gen Z for Gen Z, can help tailor your marketing strategies to attract your target consumers.