At the age of just 14, Ziad Ahmed founded Redefy, an organization aimed at making schools and communities more inclusive. Three years later, JUV Consulting was born and Ziad has been on a mission to ensure Gen Z is not just talked about, but actually talked to when it comes to marketing. He's spoken at VidCon, TED, Duke, Stanford, and Columbia Universities, and has even been personally recognized by Barack Obama. On this episode, we talk about the importance of activism for Gen Z, Gen Z values, and how brands can authentically take on and support social causes.
On why activism so important to Gen Z as consumers.
"70% [of Generation Z] would pay more for a product that we deem ethical. We want to see purpose. We want to see that you care about what you're doing. We have so much choice. We're spoiled for choice of content and of product. So for us to choose between lots of things, give us something to believe in... For a long time, we've asked nonprofits to act more like companies, you know, be more efficient with your spending and be leaner in your management. It's time for companies to act more like nonprofits. So often I go to companies and I say, what is your mission? Why do you do what you do? And they don't have an answer. If you can't tell me in one sentence the why behind your work... why do you show up to work every day?"
On the role of brands in social activism.
"It is not your job to reinvent the wheel. It is your job to provide the fuel."
"And that isn't to say that they should all care about all things in the same way. It's to say know your mission and show up for it. And showing up for it doesn't look like one cutesy ad, right? It looks like meaningful financial investment. It looks like partnering with the people who've already been doing the work. So many brands think that it's their job to solve the problem. No. There have been community organizers and activists and nonprofits on the ground solving these issues for decades. Learn from them, support them. It is not your job to reinvent the wheel. It is your job to provide the fuel."
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about Gen Z?
"Generation Z is creating massive movements given our unique ability to use digital tools with such adeptness..."
"I think people need to realize that we are the generation of memes and movements — and that the fact that we are on our phones so much has allowed us to influence public discourse, popular culture, and perception in such massive ways. The fact that we create memes to send to our friends has redefined communication, and memes are now used to synthesize major political moments. Generation Z is creating massive movements given our unique ability to use digital tools with such adeptness as we are digital natives that speak the language of social media fluently. We are also known as the “plurals” given that we are the first generation thought to think in terms of we, and I think that ethos comes through in so much of what we do as we seek to use collective action to inspire change."