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"56% Gen Z believe that life will go back to normal after COVID-19": MTV Youth Study 2021

This is a qualitative and quantitative study reflective of Gen Z’s habits and choices for marketers and brand custodians' reference.

MTV Insights Studio has launched the 2021 edition of its MTV Youth Study titled Atmanirbhar by Circumstance, to steer marketing and communications for youth in the right direction. 'Atmanirbhar by Circumstance' is India’s largest youth research and a go-to handbook for the advertising and marketing community that provides a comprehensive overview of India’s Gen Z population. The in-depth qualitative and quantitative study reflects Gen-Z’s behavior, mindsets, habits and perceptions.

Amid a raging pandemic, 'Atmanirbhar by Circumstance' examines Gen Z's evolving thought processes and choices. With over 26,000 respondents aged 15 to 25 years from 50 Indian cities across NCCS A, B, and C, Atmanirbhar by Circumstance is the result of 185 questions covering seven broad topics: education, money, romance, national interests, content, family, friends, spirituality, and COVID-19 outlook.

On conducting a nationwide study to learn more about India’s Gen Z population and on the launch of Atmanirbhar by Circumstance, Anshul Ailawadi – Head, Youth Music and English Entertainment at Viacom18, said, “2020 has been a pivotal year in so many ways. This edition of our youth study is the first such exercise post the first wave of the pandemic. It offers a rare glimpse into how young Indians are coping with a changing world in which every aspect of their lives – from their education and relationships to their careers and interests – needs to be rebuilt. It will go a long way in helping brands, creators and publishers establish a deeper connection with their Gen Z constituency.”

“Chapters like Agla Chapter: Side Hustle, Pyar Dhokha Hai, COVID - 19 is temporary, Aspirations are permanent, bust common myths about this consumer set. They also showcase the evolving opinions of this age group. Overall, the findings indicate, India’s Gen Z is increasingly becoming independent or Atmanirbhar while continuing to ride high on aspirations. We hope this research empowers new age as well as legacy brands that are looking to deepen connect and build trust with their Gen Z consumer.” added Anshul.

In addition to MTV’s Anshul Ailawadi, the launch also seen participation from leading brands such as, Godrej, Dabur, Dell Technologies and Spotify kicking off a discussion on Gen-Zfying the brands. The launch also had Gen Z representation from AIESEC, a non-governmental, and not-for-profit organization entirely run by youth for youth. Discussing trends relevant for Gen Zers were Vijay Kumar D - President of AIESEC in India, Joshua John Valloor - President of AIESEC in VIT, Dishay Sharoff - President of AIESEC in Mumbai, Kairavi Falguni Thakkar - Head of Partnership Development(PD) for AIESEC in India, and Jaiveer Bains - President of AIESEC in Patiala.

Some of the key highlights of the report:


· 21 per cent of Gen Z feel it is the most important thing in life to follow their passions instead of having a stable job, trending up exponentially from 9 per cent in 2016.

· With side-hustle gaining more importance in Gen Zers lives, 70 per cent felt side-hustles are the real shot to fame and success and 69 per cent felt they would want to earn from their hobbies.


· For Gen Zers money holds prime importance in a post COVID world. For 46 per cent of respondents, money is all that matters, up from 21 per cent in 2019. 46 per cent said they would rather focus on being rich and successful instead of living a meaningful life, up from 25 per cent in 2019.

· A staggering 74 per cent felt there are a lot of undiscovered careers and ways to make money.


· Gen Zers’ belief in true love continues to decline. 1 out of every 2 respondents said they flirted with someone else apart from their boyfriend or girlfriend during the lockdown. 25 per cent said they don’t believe in marriage up from 10 per cent in 2019 and 8 per cent in 2016.

· 13 per cent shared they are in a committed relationship down from 26 per cent in 2019 and 35 per cent in 2016.

· They are less likely to date someone they meet online and believe that people treat relationships like stories – ‘here today, gone tomorrow’.


  • The study indicates that although Gen Zers are extremely vocal on subjects of national interest, they have muted participation for on-ground events.

  • 83 per cent agree that political topics are a part of peer conversations


· 21 per cent watch shows as a method of escapism into an imaginary world, up from 17 per cent in 2019. 67 per cent said streaming apps allowed them to watch the content of their choice without having to pretend or fear being judged.

· For 66 per cent streaming content of their choice made them feel more expressive and free.

· 43 per cent said listening to music kept them emotionally healthy and is still the #1 stressbuster.


· Given the negativity and volatility of the world around them, Gen Z is seeking refuge in family, religion and friends. 52 per cent attributed their happiness to their family, up from 42 per cent in 2019 and 13 per cent in 2016. During the lockdown, 65 per cent of respondents said their families were the most motivating factor. Being family oriented rose to the top of their partner's priority list

· 70 per cent felt more in control of their life after prayer and 62 per cent said being spiritual gave them clarity in a confusing world.

· 42 per cent would avoid having friends who compete with them, up from 18 per cent in 2019; 45 per cent felt friends are only for fun up from 25 per cent in 2019.


· 56 per cent Gen Zers believe that life will be back to normal overthrowing the concept of the ‘new normal’ after COVID-19 subsides.

· 51 per cent will wait for the right opportunity to come their way instead of going after just anything that is offered to them.

· 74 per cent said DIY during the lockdown has now grown to become a habit and 82 per cent were more proud and confident about themselves after completing DIY tasks.

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