Z Generation: young wise men striving for certainties

A research by BNP Paribas Cardif focuses on the identikit of young people between 14 and 24, which dispels many stereotypes assigned to this generation. They can’t do without their smartphones, but neither can they do without their families. Their values include sustainability and social inclusion

Published on 13 May 2019

“Generation Z: a future that looks to the past” is the name of the research commissioned by BNP Paribas Cardif, one of the top ten insurance companies in Italy, and conducted by the research institute AstraRicerche, which wanted to explore the so-called Gen Z, the one that follows the Millennials. 

The first Generation with no direct knowledge of the twentieth century, which shuns Facebook, which does not aspire to fame and success, adores the family, is against waste and pursues love. Those for whom ‘Daddy beats Ronaldo 1-0’. 

BNP Paribas Cardif’s research offers a journey through Gen Z that offers surprises and food for thought, investigating their ‘being alive’ through social relations, their relationship with technology and information, their consumption habits, mobility, free time, work and their expectations for the future. 

Gen Z, which represents 11% of the Italian population, is not as superficial as many people believe, quite the opposite: it is the authentic values that really count, those of family and friendships that, surprisingly, are not the digital ones. 

“We were faced with very young, practical, clear-minded digital natives, where the virtual world is a ‘normality’ that does not supplant traditional values, such as family and friends, and new ones, such as inclusion and sustainability. – says Isabella Fumagalli, CEO of BNP Paribas Cardif and Coordinator of BNP Paribas International Financial Services (IFS) for Italy – For our Company, listening is the first tool to respond effectively to social change with increasingly accessible and people-oriented solutions. After Millenials and Over 65 we were interested in understanding Z Generation as the target of the future. Our challenge will be to offer innovative products and new service models in a digital logic that always takes into account the experiential component and the positive social impact”. 

However, let’s get a good look at the results of the very comprehensive AstraRicerche investigation. 

Social background 

Although they do not have a recipe for happiness, 60% of the young people of the Z generation are happy, especially men and the 14-18 age group and those living in the big centres. But there is also a quarter of them below sufficiency. To be happy the important thing is to feel good about oneself (84%) and to feel good physically (82%), but also to have a peaceful atmosphere in the family (80%). In addition to family, friendship is a fundamental value and real friends are the people you hang out with during your free time (74%), schoolmates or work colleagues (58%) and only to a lesser extent the people you meet on social networks and then hang out with in real life (37%). Definitely few people who indicate only virtual friendships (26%). Traditional in the choice of reference models, very young people are mainly inspired by their parents (55%), even more so by young people between 19 and 24 years old, by friends (44%), especially the under 19s, and by people in their daily lives (37%) or other family members (35%). Despite expectations, outside of their own network of knowledge, entertainment personalities, with 35%, and sportspeople, with 30%, exceed potential new reference points such as chefs (19%), fashion bloggers (21%) and influencers (23%). The family remains at the top of this generation’s priorities (56%), especially for the female part of the interviewees, but also love (47%), health (42%) and friendship (41%) clearly exceed work (31%) and school (21%). Fame, success, being an influencer count for very little; only 6% have them as a priority. The centennials are an inclusive, environmentally aware and open to diversity generation (especially women for 67%). For them, in fact, these are acquired values that are part of their daily life, their way of being, thinking and living. 66% of them are selective waste collectors, they are attentive to waste of all kinds (60%) and are open to encountering the others, with everything that is different and that, therefore, can make them grow and enrich (60%), and this is especially true for women or those who live in big cities. An active generation (only 9% do not study or work) that is more exposed to social phenomena such as bullying, with more than half claiming to have suffered discrimination at school or at work, especially for their health and physical shape (51%). The latter is a problem that mainly affects women. 


The research also investigated the relationship of Z Generation with the insurance companies. In general, as many as 65% have at least one insurance policy taken out by them or their parents; those linked to mobility (31%), life insurance (19%) and home insurance (19%) are more popular. The percentage of those who cover their travel with insurance (69%) between health, flight, suitcase or travel itself is also high. On policies to cover devices from damage or theft, this generation claims to know of their existence (81%), with 21% already owning them. However, although the network may be a risky terrain at a reputational level, more than half do not know about digital reputation insurance (55%) and a large part, although they know about it, say they are not interested in (23%). 


As far as the digital environment is concerned, the research largely confirms the widespread opinion: smartphones are the real device of this generation (93%) and the alternative is the laptop (75%), while tablets and desktops are also overtaken by consoles to play and the smartwatch is chosen by only one out of five, especially among men. Obviously, if they had to choose only one device to carry with them they would have no doubts and they would always choose the smartphone (87%). Opinions on the correct spending for a smartphone are varied: for 44% more than 500 euros, for 38% a reasonable figure is between 200 and 500 euros and for 28% less than 200 euros. Almost half do not think they need to change their mobile phone often and do so when it stops working (46%), while only 6% replace it every year or more often. It is mainly women who are more fond of smartphones, even if they spend less to buy them and change them less frequently. Which Apps are the most used by the Z generation? The most popular are those for watching videos (76%) and listening to music (67%) and those for shopping (63%) and watching programs (57%). Still little use is made of the apps for health, nutrition, restaurant reservations and information. 

Social network 

In the world of social media WhatsApp, by far (89%), and Instagram (82%) are the undisputed masters, far outstripping Facebook (72%), which holds the most among the over 19s and women. The other social channels are naturally present but in a much smaller percentage. Tik Tok reaches 10%. Although they are present on social channels, young people born between 1995 and 2010 are not very active: 35% rarely enter and are limited to a few likes. On the contrary, only 32% call themselves particularly active even if less than one in five is a creator of original content. How do they communicate? Six out of ten do it mainly with photos, preferred to text (26%); less with videos (6%) and voice messages (4%). Almost one in two has posted content that they regret (47%) and more than half (52%) have seen unwanted content published by others. Although they live connected, the young people of Gen Z are not very aware and interested in digital reputation, have a weak perception of the delicacy of the topic and limit the problem with the privacy settings of different social networks. Always remaining in the area of risks related to the digital world, alongside the phenomenon of bullying, the data on cyber bullying is becoming increasingly significant: 42% have suffered or seen episodes related to this increasingly widespread problem. 

Information and free time 

In their free time listening to music is the first great passion of the very young (78%), who love to live it also in an experiential way preferring concerts to disco (only 31%). They follow the series and films seen on TV or other devices (74%), and the time spent with friends, both going out with them (65%) and chatting from a distance (65%). Cinema remains a pleasant pastime (49%), just as reading a good book (45%) and practicing sport is preferable to following it as a fan. 

Work and future 

The research shows the profile of proactive people, since as many as 32% already work, with a future professional expectation tending to be positive: if it is true that more than half (51%), and especially in big cities, see themselves with a stable job and as employees, almost 30% see themselves employed in an autonomous and dynamic activity, as freelance, consultant or in a start-up. Only 20% think that they will have a precarious and uncertain job or even that they will not be able to find a job. Where is the most delicate aspect, given that only 57% think they will stay in Italy, while 30% imagine themselves in Europe and 13% even in another continent. A real brain drain. 


When it comes to purchasing, even a multi-social generation like Z prefers experiential shopping and therefore shops (40%) to online shopping (34%). However, in this case, gender counts, since women prefer the store in absolute terms, while men prefer online. Almost 80% of those who buy on the web buy physical goods (clothing, electronics, etc.), much more than services (54%). But by whom are they influenced in their purchases? Gen Z gets “advice” mainly from friends (43%) and family (37%) and very little from network influencers (21%) as, perhaps, one would expect. More than 40% feel capable of influencing others in their purchases, but without being tied to companies or brands. 


They generally travel by car (51%), on foot (50%) or by public transport (37%). The two-wheels, instead, are not among the preferred means of transport for very young people, who prefer the bike (17%) to the motorbike/motorbike (10%). The use of car/motorbike/bike sharing is limited (also because it is not present in many cities) but all in all also the interest is very high. Facing travel, we are facing a generation that loves to travel often (46%), especially women between 19 and 24 years old. 

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