Roughly defined as anyone 5 to 19 years old, Generation Z makes up more than 25% of the U.S. population. And the group is as diverse as its age range. Of course shared behaviors exist, but they can’t be used to define them as a whole.
This generation lives and breathes technology. There’s no denying that. Especially, when you consider that smart phones, which were introduced in 2007, have been a part of – if not all of – their lives. This fact alone, means that Gen Z are true digital natives. They lead active lives on social media and they connect to information and communicate using computers, phones and tablets. With this kind of connectedness, and so many channels to receive information and entertainment, Gen Z are the ultimate multi-taskers. In fact, they’re often said to get distracted and lose interest quickly.
As digital natives, they are also growing up in a world where cyberbullying and data breeches are more of the norm. Because of this, many may seek to keep a low profile in an attempt to retain their privacy. This behavior is backed by their preferences for anonymous social media channels. Whisper and Snapchat are hugely popular apps, while Facebook is significantly less favored by Gen Z. In fact, as of 2014, 25% of 13-17 years olds said they’d stopped using Facebook altogether.
And despite what you might think about a group that is short on attention, Generation Z is more mature and aware. They are growing up in a post September 11th society and have been affected by a great economic recession. In addition to these influences, they’re also being brought up during a time of acceptance ranging from the first African American president, the legalization of same-sex marriage and transgender role models. As a result of the state of the world in which they live, they are more financially conservative, socially conscious and tolerant.
Those on the oldest side of this generation are starting to experience a series of “adult” firsts – most notably, starting college, entering the workforce and voting in their first presidential election. Multiple studies have already been conducted, trying to predict how this group fits into the existing workforce. And with an election year coming up, Generation Z’s political leanings are a major interest to many, many people.
This is all happening while the youngest side of the generation has just entered kindergarten. The pace at which they’re currently learning and developing is more rapid now than it will be at any other point in their lives. Their day-to-day experiences are just starting to form who they are. Predicting what will influence them now or at any other point in their lifetimes, would be- at best, just a guess.
In addition to the age gap, Generation Z is also ethically diverse. According to Magid Generational Studies, this is the most diverse generation to date and will also be the last predominately Caucasian generation. While technology and events impact behaviors, you also have to consider that cultural upbringing is a major factor that differentiates the individuals in this generation.
This generation knows what it wants! When surveyed by Sparks and Honey, moms of Gen Z children stated that they felt their child was influential when purchasing toys, apparel and the weekly dinner menu as follows:
Toys – 80%
Apparel – 74%
Meals – 73%
Research also found that Generation Z receive an average weekly allowance of $16.90, which translates to… wait for it…
$44 billion a year.
Once this generation starts earning its own money, the spending power can exceed that of the Millennials.
So how do you make an impact on a group that we’ve already defined as distracted and that loses interest quickly? That’s currently the $44 billion question, but here are few tips:
- Be Relevant – You may have only one chance to catch the attention of this demographic so make sure you target your message concisely and preferably with an image.
- Be Agile – this generation is currently only figuring out who they are, what they like and how they want to be communicated with.
- Invest in Security - Older Generation Z prefers social media platforms that protect their privacy and allow anonymity. This generation is not willing to give out their information so easily.
- Embrace Acceptance – Breaking down barriers is the norm for this generation. They are leading the future to accepting differences and embracing issues that might have been seen as taboo before.
- Show Value – The impact of a major economic recession will have Generation Z making informed decisions about what products/services they want to purchase.
Learning the nuances of a new generation isn’t something that happens overnight. Especially when the group in question is as varied as Generation Z happens to be. How do you feel that this new demographic will alter our world and our industry?