It’s likely a larger percentage of them will be attending and graduating from college than any previous generation in the U.S. and abroad. They also see themselves as passionate, open-minded, responsible and determined, and they have a high concern for others and issues. They are acutely aware of the effects humans are having on the planet and they are also the most racially diverse generation ever. Many of them have entrepreneurial aspirations. Technologically, they are connected to their media devices 17-18 hours a day, the vast majority of it with their smartphones.
Millennials? Nope. Generation Z — those people born around 1995/1996 and older. They are 80 million strong and their impact is going to have profound effects for years to come. If you are not planning for and developing strategies for this cohort, then you may be missing out.
A number of studies have already been done about them. As a result, we’re starting to get a clearer picture about Generation Z (also called the iGeneration or Post-Millennials). For example, in one study 60% of Gen Zers wanted jobs that had a social impact, while 72% of them wanted to start their own businesses. In another survey, nine out of ten Gen Zers said they visit YouTube at least once a week and 70% said they watch it two hours a day. They watch twice as many videos on mobile than any other demographic.
Gen Z are bellwethers, says one expert. Where they go, our world goes.
It wasn’t that long ago researchers were saying the same thing about Baby Boomers and it became true. Simply because of the sheer size of the Boomer cohort, change and influence occurred. Could history be repeating itself?
What else do we know about the iGeneration?
Two Seminal Events
We know their attitudes have been greatly affected by two major events — 9/11 and the Great Recession. While most were too young to personally experience the devastating impact of the terrorist attacks, they have grown up not knowing anything else but terrorism and ongoing wars. In addition, they saw the impact the downturn in the economy had on their parents and their families. As a result, they tend to crave more predictability and order, and some suggest they are more conservative than both Millennials or Boomers.
But because of this uncertainty, Gen Zers also describe themselves as being responsible, determined and motivated to to succeed. The vast majority of them see education (specifically college) as being important for “career preparation.” At the same time, they are strong self-learners, having experienced at an early age how to look up information on their own quickly and hyper-efficiently. They are literally speed demons when it comes to finding what they need.
It’s also no secret that they are the most connected generation in U.S. history. Not only do they spend a vast amount of their time online, but their connectivity is increasing. In one survey, nearly half of the Gen Zers surveyed said they were more connected now than they were just three months ago.
And it’s mostly mobile. As one person put it: “Gen Z is not mobile-first, they are mobile-only.”
Generation Z and Marketers
What are the implications from a marketing perspective?
Time spent and time wasted are important. If your information or online process is slow or uninteresting—forget it. They are moving on. While multi-tasking seems to be the way they handle and process information, one expert has a different take and describes it this way: “People think they are multi-screening, but they are actually doing is having tiny nano-moments as they move from one device to another.”
To get beyond the filters Gen Zers have built for themselves, one marketing professionals says information must be brief, engaging and visual. In other words, focus on “snackable” experiences. Invest in video and get right to the point. More than anything, this same person suggests, Gen Zers respond best when they’re invited into the conversation and allowed to collaborate.
One other way to look at Generation Z is to consider four realities as posted by blogger Jaime Netzer:
1. Generation Z was born to share.
2. Generation Z will research everything.
3. Generation Z need high-octane engagement.
4. Generation Z are visual creatures.
The giant Generation Z wave is upon us and is only going to get bigger and stronger. The question is – how will companies and organizations respond? Will they adapt to this dynamic demographic or fail or stall and be left behind? Only time will tell.
Generation Z: Growing up in the age of likes, lols and longing http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-generation-z-20160525-story.html
Generation Z Goes To College by Corey Seemlier and Meghan Grace