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Volume 23 No. 29
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Gen Z: Mark Beal

Managing partner, Taylor; author, “Decoding Gen Z”

Mark Beal spends plenty of time around Gen Z as an adjunct professor in the school of communication at Rutgers, and he literally wrote the book on them, publishing “Decoding Gen Z: 100 Lessons Generation Z Will Teach Corporate America, Marketers and Media” in 2018. 

— As told to Terry Lefton


They are forever seeking “Instagrammable experiences.” At a horse race, they may have no idea which horses are winning or even running, but for them it’s about being dressed up with friends at a unique venue. Socializing and sharing can be more important than the event itself because it gives them bragging rights. Just the atmosphere at a sportsbook within a venue is unique enough that it’s attractive even to Gen Zers who have no intention of placing a single bet.

They don’t believe much in appointment viewing of sports. Their approach is “I don’t need to. I’ll watch when I want to — or I’ll get the highlights or watch at the time and on the device I choose.” They are downloading a lot of sports content, especially podcasts. They prize access and behind-the-scenes stuff — podcasts are important.

Gen Z prizes the NBA as “the league for me.” Just about every one brings up the NBA before every other league. They are giving us more and better content and off-the-court stuff. The perception is that the NBA does that more and better.  

They are very purpose-driven, socially conscious and community-minded, and they talk about a higher purpose, even for their teams and leagues. 

The one brand every Gen Zer brings up with me is Wendy’s. They respond quickly to social media 24/7 and their tone is in Gen Z language. They are the leader, and I haven’t heard one that’s even a close second.

Mark Beal teaches Gen Z students at Rutgers and learns from them as well.
Photo: courtesy of mark beal