Gen Z Lab in Lisbon

What would happen if young people from 7 European countries work together closely for 5 days to find out how they can get Gen Z to be more physically active? After a few online prep sessions, 70 bright minds met up in person to take on the challenge at a Gen Z Lab in Lisbon. This resulted in brainstorming, conceptualisation and prototyping, including fieldwork to test initial ideas and… some great sports activities, of course.

Physical social responsibility

Imagine… A Gen Z Lab where zoomers themselves get to work on Gen Z issues. A lab for and by Gen Z. A lab that also focuses on socially relevant challenges, such as the decline in youth participation in sports and other physical activities, and rising mental health, stress and weight issues.

Gen Z Lab to the rescue

70 enterprising zoomers looked at the barriers and factors of motivation to get various Gen Z personas moving. The teams used design thinking to prepare all kinds of solutions, concepts and prototypes, together with the appropriate business models to sustainably market these solutions. There was a lot of cutting and pasting, philosophising and calculating, testing and trying, deliberating and considering.

So what is the perfect solution for motivating young people? Apps of course. Or events with influencers perhaps? Or is social media campaigns with influencers the way to go? All in all, the crucial element turns out to be the social aspect.

Influencers are out, communities are in!

About 5 factors came up several times and therefore stood out, regardless of the wide range of associated solutions or business ideas. The elements below are only the tip of the iceberg, but in short, what Gen Z wants is a community, preferably in combination with gamification and ease of use.

  • Platforms with a selection of online sports classes

Whether it is online yoga, online dance classes or online fitness sessions, many ideas revolve around platforms that bring existing (quality) online sports sessions together. A kind of TikTok for yoga, a type of YouTube platform for people with sports injuries, … Grouping relevant online sports content was something that came up frequently in various ways. The idea behind such a platform is that it screens and selects relevant online sports sessions for their users once they have registered and submitted their requirements.

  • Link to like-minded people

Many zoomers find individual sports such as running or biking rather boring. They prefer to play volleyball or basketball in a group. They mainly want to be social athletes. But… the older they get, the harder it seems to be to find other team players of the same level in their area. This is especially true if they are not a member of a sports club and want to play recreationally when it suits them. Hence the need for a connection or link with like-minded people, a community of local active people who play recreationally at a similar level. For instance, one team developed Volleymates, a kind of online platform to find local volleyball buddies.

  • Motivating peers

The lab mainly uses well-known big influencers to promote sports apps or events. Using influencers simply to get Gen Z active is not a popular path. To effectively get young people moving, Gen Z places particular emphasis on using athletes with a similar mindset, level or experience. It doesn’t matter whether that is the boy next door or a famous athlete. Once again, the community aspect prevails. It is those peers who motivate Gen Z to persevere.

  • Experience attracts

Gen Z does pay attention to more experienced athletes, for example experts in mountain climbing or a specific dance style. Several teams launched platforms with input from experienced/certified peers. They offer user-generated content with specific quality checks. (For instance, if the subject is mountaineering routes, only experienced/certified climbers can post advice.)

  • Gamification is everywhere

Saving virtual points, winning virtual medals, participating in virtual tournaments… The game element is crucial to Gen Z’s engagement with any app, event or campaign. Rewards work wonders… Gamification is the ingredient to keep communities around apps, events or campaigns alive and trigger members to take action.

An impression of ICELab 2022? Check out the following movie clip


Deze blogpost is geschreven in het kader van een Howest onderzoeksproject rond Generatie Z. Project Fitfluencers maakt influencer marketing principes bruikbaar in niet-commerciële context met het oog op gedragsverandering bij jongeren. Op de hoogte blijven van het project?