Coming of age has never been easy, and in these ever-changing modern times in which nothing seems certain, teenagers have never had it more tough. If you think that makes Generation Z anything like Millennials, the less optimistic and often misunderstood cohort preceding them, think again. Though Generation Z is stereotyped as having been born with a smartphone in hand, and as having grown up in a world in which personal privacy seems like a privilege, Generation Z is actually quite different to Millennials, in ways that are refreshingly surprising. As the youngest of Generation Z enters the workforce, brands would be smart to do their research, and fast - it’s estimated that by 2020, Generation Z will account for 40 percent of consumers. With their seemingly short attention span and fine-tuned skepticism, it may seem like brand loyalty will be harder to attain and keep with this generation...though not at all impossible.
The oldest of Generation Z are typically labelled as having been born in 1995, the cut off mark yet to be defined. By 1995, the Internet was widely available - not a single Gen Z-er has lived in a time in which the Internet and cel phones didn’t exist. Having been born with everything at their fingertips, while they may perceive their options as infinite, they understand that their time is not. Instead of making the assumption that theirs is a short attention span problem, brands need to understand that this generation sees their time as precious. They don’t want to waste their time on something that doesn’t interest them, or on something that they perceive to be meaningless or empty. That’s why brands need to put a lot of power into their purpose. Lately, we’ve seen a trend in brands taking a stand on social issues, and Generation Z is taking note. They have little patience for inequality when it comes to human rights, race and sexual orientation. Make sure your brand clearly defines its values and does everything to uphold them...otherwise, you’ll have a hard time holding on to the youngest generation of consumers’ attention, if you can even get it to begin with.
You won’t be able to fool this generation. You can bet on Generation Z being hyper-aware of when brands aren’t being authentic or transparent, because in a way, they have been working on their personal brands since a very young age. Having grown up in a time in which social media exists, where everything is out on display, this generation is innately branding savvy. They’re aware of the stereotypes that have been placed on Millennials, and feel determined to prove themselves as anything but lazy or screen-addicted. Though they don’t want to be defined by their social media accounts, they are aware that social media is crucial when it comes to building their personal brand. Brands take note - social media offers a way to connect with this generation on a deeper level.
With their natural branding know-how, it’s no wonder that Generation Z has often been labelled as “the entrepreneurial generation”, though their motives are actually pretty pragmatic. Having been raised by the individualistically-inclined Generation X, and having witnessed the hardships Millennials are facing professionally, Generation Z wants to secure their future, knowing that the world has changed and is anything but the way it was when Baby Boomers came of age. Generation Z is looking at more non-traditional ways to make money, be it by becoming influencers or by starting their own businesses. Brands today have to offer these young people guidance and tools that can help them discover themselves and who they are meant to be, and they have to really think outside the box to do it. Brands that are open to innovation and always aware of trends will win big with this generation, and the time to adapt your brand to their needs is now.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Generation Z, given the state of the world we live in today, is their incredible optimism. These are people who want to change the world, and believe it is ultimately up to them to achieve it. The future is looking bright.
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Last Edited on May 25, 2018