Generation Z or “Gen Z” are those who are born after 1998, and guess what? They’re now influencing businesses because the oldest among them are entering university age or heading to work. And, if you didn’t realize it, the shiny new generation is larger than the Millennials, which businesses have been enamored with for years. The time has come to shift our gaze, as hard as it may be, from Millennials and begin to look at Gen Z because they are about to become the next marketing obsession.
Each generation has its distinct characteristics, and Gen Z is no different. Let’s take a look at some of the fundamental ways they differ from the Millennials because it will ultimately impact how your business markets to them.
- Give Them More Authenticity: Gen Z picked up on the same interest of Millennials to want to authenticity and transparency; however, Gen Z wants more of it. A great example of this in business is how American Eagle has discovered that it’s zero Photoshop policy has attracted fans from the Gen Z generation than Millennials.
- Conversation Comes Through Technology: Gen Z is interested in related to brands and businesses through technology. If you want to reach this generation of consumer, you need to tell them your story in platforms, such as Snapchat. Gen Z must have its devices, and they first relate to businesses through their devices and then in other ways. Think if mobile as the funnel through which you engage for everything with Gen Z, including even offering the news.
- Skip College, Straight to Work: Generation Z understands that they are living in a whole new world. More traditional routes, such as going to college, in their view don’t apply to them in the digital age. Gen Z is not interested in massive debt loads with student loans, and economists are expecting a high level of late teens to skip school and go straight into the workforce.
- Forget Teamwork: Millennials are known for their desire to be collaborative and work as part of a team in a shared experience. Not so with Gen Z. They are reverting to from earlier generations that preferred to compete with each other. Gen Z is not interested in sharing their workspaces, and the majority are not interested in collaborative “team” working environments.
- Independence is The Focal Point: Along with a similar vein of Gen Z eschewing teams, Gen Z is a much more independent generation. Gen Z is not interested in sporting any particular “hot” brands. Instead, they are individualistic, and they want others to view them as unique individuals. Businesses that are interested in marketing to the new generation have to think about storytelling that celebrates the individual.
- Business Risk Taking: Millennials were notoriously wary about starting their businesses, and the opposite is true with Gen Z. Gen Z is 55 percent more likely to want to become an entrepreneur in their own business than Millennials. It stands to reason that if many from this generation will not be going to college that many will want to become business owners––particularly because work trends continue to move from employment to freelancing, consulting, etc.
- Face-to-Face is Back in Fashion: Millennials have a stronger preference for communication through technology, such as chats, video conferencing or texts. However, Gen Z prefers face-to-face contact (which makes me happy). 53 percent of the Gen Z population favor to meet in person to discuss issues. How about that? What’s “old” is new again.
Generation Z is a significant segment of the population. In fact, Gen Z represents 26 percent of the population. The reality is that with its considerable size, and the fact that they were born in the digital age and think their WiFi connection is more important than even a bathroom, this brand-spanking-new generation is on the cusp of revolutionizing business and society.
Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact” (Free Digital Download)
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