Jan 12 2022
From improving their mental health to being more adventurous, we asked Gen Z and Millennials what they intend for 2022…
YPulse’s The In-Between trend report explores Gen Z and Millennials’ mindsets entering 2022—another pandemic year. We found that despite the fact that they don’t believe that the threat of COVID will end in 2022, they are still hopeful for the year ahead. While 2021 was in many ways a year of unfulfilled high hopes, their perspectives going into 2022 are more a balance of optimism and caution. The majority don’t believe that we’ll ever return to life the way it was before COVID, but that doesn’t mean that they’ve stopped living. As they create their own new normal within the pandemic, they’re adjusting to its impacts, and cautiously returning to some of the activities and experiences that they have been missing.
To find out how these attitudes will be manifesting in their behavior, we asked about their intentions for 2022 across their social lives, their health, and even their style. Here’s what we found are their biggest priorities:
Both Gen Z and Millennials have their health as a top priority in 2022, with Gen Z most likely to say they’re committed to improving their physical health (with mental health a close second) and Millennials most likely to say they’re committed to improving their mental health. Our recent mental health behavioral report found that half of 13-39-year-olds say their mental health has been negatively impacted by COVID, with Gen Z more likely than Millennials to say so. Given that the last two years have impacted everything from young people’s finances to their careers to important milestones, it’s clear that attempting to improve their mental health is something they want to prioritize especially as we enter another pandemic-filled year, with new variants and threats looming. Our behavioral data also explores how young people have tried everything from taking “mental health days” to trying holistic remedies to combat stress and anxiety in the past year, while the majority tell us they would appreciate mental health support from brands. Anything related to their health and well-being is clearly important to young consumers.
But while health is a priority for both generations, their intentions for 2022 aren’t totally aligned. Gen Z is more likely than Millennials to say they’re committed to hanging out with friends more and going out more socially this year. We already told you that teens have missed out on important milestones, many of which take place in school with their friends, from proms to graduations to the general day-to-day interaction on high school and college campuses. It’s obvious by Gen Z’s responses that after spending the majority of their time in lockdowns in the last two years, they want to make up for missed time in 2022.
However, Millennials are more likely than Gen Z to say they want to go on more dates. As the pandemic continued to disrupt many areas of young people’s life, their dating and love lives were also impacted. YPulse’s Finding Love Post-Covid trend report found that 40% of single 18-39-year-olds in the U.S. have been using dating apps and sites more often since COVID hit. But as online dating surged during lockdowns, young singles initially felt FODA (a.k.a “Fear of Dating Again”) when they began going back out for in-person dating post-vaccinations. While some started to get comfortable in the summer and “just going for it,” the highly anticipated hot vaxx summer ultimately turned into a “spectacular mess.” While our Extended Singledom trend report previously explored how Millennials are waiting to find “the one,” some have expressed that the pandemic is delaying that even further. But according to French dating app happn, a third of Gen Z and Millennials are looking for love in 2022. Of those, 37% are looking for a relationship and 32% have their sights set on marriage. We told you about all the ways COVID has changed dating, and as it becomes more of a priority for Millennials, it’s clear that dating apps will have to continue to evolve to meet young people’s needs.
Meanwhile, Millennials are also more likely than Gen Z to say they intend to be more adventurous this year. We know that many young people have been craving the experiences that they’ve been missing out on in the last two year, and while their return to all activities is being tempered by caution, it’s clear that many are looking for even more exploration and boldness, even if it’s not completely carefree. We predict this will take the form of attainable adventures, ones that will still be closer to home but allow them to feel more freedom and escape than they have been.
But Gen Z wants to be more adventurous in their aesthetic, with the younger gen more likely to say they want to dress more boldly / more experimentally and wear brighter makeup in the new year. We told you about the fashion and beauty trends that young consumers are interested in, and Gen Z were more likely to be interested in most of them in comparison to Millennials—and that seems to be the case entering 2022. Harper’s Bazaar recently reported that as Gen Z continues to bring back Y2K-era fashion, they’re fueling a new fashion “trend” known as “dopamine dressing” as they use fashion to express themselves after more than a year spending time at-home during school, work, and quarantines. Capsule wardrobes and all-black apparel are no longer the only definition of chic style—and today’s young shoppers are all about experimentation, mixing-and-matching vibrant clothing and vintage wares.
It’s important to keep in mind that as we enter another difficult year, young consumers are caught in the middle trying to balance their safety with living life. They’re still going to find ways to make this period less grueling by taking care of their mental and well-being, but many are also intent on having more this year, whether that be time with friends, new relationships, or attainable adventures—and for brands there are opportunities to respond to their desire for a more joy-filled 2022.
YPulse Business users can access the full In-Between trend report and data here.
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