Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title

Young Consumers


Management, Marketing and Business Administration


Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business


Purpose Drawing upon cohort theory, the age-period-cohort framework and the portrait value system, this paper aims to examine differences in basic human values between generations Y and Z as they are shaped by recent major events (most importantly the COVID-19 pandemic).

Design/methodology/approach Hypothesized differences between values of generation Y and Z were tested using a content analysis of recent articles (Study 1) and an online survey through a prolific crowdsourcing website (Study 2).

Findings This research finds that while both generations value universalism and benevolence, Generation Y is more likely to conform and follow traditions while Generation Z values stimulation, hedonism and achievement more. The top two COVID-19 concerns for both groups were the health of others and financial security. Generation Y is more concerned about the economy while Generation Z is more worried about uncertainty in their future.

Research limitations/implications This paper provides insight into how the current environmental crisis has shaped the values of generations Y and Z and offers an understanding of the similarities and differences in values between these two generations.

Practical implications The findings have direct implications for the design of products/services and for the creation of effective marketing communications to reach these two consumer groups.

Originality/value This research is novel in identifying the basic human values of generations Y and Z as they are shaped by recent events such as the most recent economic recession and COVID-19.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of a peer-reviewed article published by Emerald Insight in Young Consumers, available at

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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