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The Doomed Generation: Gen Z Scrolls and Spends to Make Worries Go Away

Reading about debilitating climate change, racial injustice, and world economics is part of Gen Z’s morning routine. They experience waves of sadness and depression before leaving their bed in the morning — and they can’t escape it.

They scroll, scroll, scroll through disheartening news about the state of the world. And then they feel hopeless, so they make impulsive purchases to ignite a spark of happiness. This almost apocalyptic behavior, known as doomscrolling and doomspending, has become ingrained in Gen Z’s social media habits. 

Understanding Doomscrolling and Doomspending

To doomscroll means to excessively watch negative content for an extended period of time. Seeing negative news impulses people to seek out other negative news, leaving them stuck in a doom cycle. Gen Z wants to stay connected and informed about the world, but they are constantly bombarded with pressing issues such as constant corporate layoffs and worldwide economic downfall. 

Doomscrolling leads to doomspending, which is to impulse-buy unnecessary products to cope with the worrying state of the economy. Gen Z fear they won’t ever be able to retire or buy a house — a real concern based on 896% increase on housing prices since 1963 — so they overspend on other “nice” purchases to deal with that frustration and devastation.  

By analyzing doomscrolling and doomspending, it is clear that these activities are rooted in Gen Z’s pessimism about current and future world problems. And many feel they have the right to be concerned with climate change, financial instability, and other challenges they face every day. 

What Do These Concepts Tell Advertisers?

Doomscrolling and doomspending tell advertisers that humans are morbidly attracted to negative content. A Forbes article mentions that “negativity bias means the collective humans’ hunger to read and remember bad news.” People are more likely to remember bad news than positive ones because they bring stronger emotions, such as fear and anger. 

These concepts also tell advertisers that Gen Z wants to feel connected to the world and the people around them. Major-scale events can shape the outlook of a generation, and in Gen Z’s case, it has turned them into socially progressive dreamers. They want to see sustainability, equality and other qualities that could improve their gloomy world and make life worth living. 

Even in the face of doom, Gen Z consumers advocate for a better future. They want their favorite brands to step up, use their influence to make society better, and to bring a little happiness into their lives.

So, How Can Advertisers Reach Gen Z Consumers Amid All This Gloom? 

By taking all those negative feelings and turning them into something more positive. Like Oganes Vagramovich Barsegyan stated in a Forbes article, combining negative words with positive ones can grab doomscrollers’ attention and add some cheer to their social media feeds.  

For instance, a recent campaign called Sweetheart Situationships grabbed doomscrollers' attention with the negative term “situationship” and associated it with the positive aspects of the word “sweetheart.” It successfully captivated a Gen Z audience and added some happiness to their day. In turn, Gen Z associated Sweetheart Situationships with positive feelings, so they purchased products from the brand. The campaign was so successful that they were sold out of boxes. 

All in all, advertisers can reach Gen Z doomscrollers and doomspenders by appealing to their desire for a better world, grabbing their attention by speaking positively in a sea of negative news, and using their appreciation of community engagement. This will result in a happier audience base who doesn’t get stuck in a negative social media cycle and a more successful brand with increased loyalty and reputation.

By: Aya El Ladiki


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