Tired of Hearing about Millennials? Get Ready for Gen Z!

gen-z

Millennials in the workplace. Target marketing to Millennials. What Millennials like and what they don’t like. Many in the generations before Millennials (the Boomers and Gen X) are getting tired of hearing about the Millennials.

One of the good things about generational research is that there’s always another one coming along. And even though many members of the generation after the millennials haven’t even been born yet, the demographers and marketers have already started predicting and prognosticating about what they will be like.

So, meet Generation Z. They were born from 1996 to the present, but there are already more than 23 million of them, which puts them on the path to being the largest segment in the U.S. population. So, clearly, as marketers, we need to sit up and take notice of this new wave. Here’s what we know – or predict – so far:

  1. First and foremost, Generation Z will be about technology. Yes, Millennials grew up with technology, but Gen Z will be true digital natives. Many of them will never know a time without smartphones. In a sense, they learned to swipe before they learned to walk.
  2. Facebook will be used by Gen Z. You’ve probably heard about teens abandoning Facebook in droves. Not really true, and Facebook continually innovates to make sure this doesn’t happen. Yes, they use SnapChat and the Facebook-owned Instagram, but Facebook remains one of the most often used social media for Generation Z.
  3. Participation is key. Generation Z wants to interact and participate with their brands, but only with brands they respect. So collaboration and co-creation are the names of the game, but so is authenticity.
  4. Virtual Reality is next. Nearly 80% of Generation Z watches video on smart phones, tablets and computers. That’s more than any other generational cohort. Gen Z is the generation that will make virtual reality mainstream.
  5. The eight-second attention grab. You have about eight seconds to catch their attention and convince them you are worth staying with. Once you’ve done that, they continue watching to the end, or until something else catches their attention. So make those eight seconds count!
  6. Insecurity and hustle. Millennials grew up in the economically strong 90’s, only to have that swept away by 9/11 and two major recessions. Generation Z only knows financial insecurity, and this has made them want more. But they don’t expect it to be handed to them – they know they have to hustle and work the angles to create their own, often entrepreneurial, opportunities and to build their own personal brand.
  7. Generation Z will be the most diverse generation yet in the U.S.. However, as Peter Economy wrote in Inc., “Gone are the days of a one-size fits all check-the-box type of diversity initiative. Members of Gen Z do not identify themselves in clearly defined categories, but rather a much more fluid sense of themselves: creating an environment of diversity in not just demographics/social background, but also of thought and mind, is a must.” As you can imagine, this will have major repercussions in the workplace.

Because Generation Z is still evolving, they haven’t yet earned their final name. Several names have been proposed, including Post-Millennials, the iGeneration, Founders Generation, Plurals, or the Homeland Generation. But whatever they end up being called, this next generation will have a major impact on marketing, business, the economy, and our society as a whole. Get ready. Here comes Gen Z!

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