How Generation Z will change your business
Members of Generation Z have been called everything from ‘screenagers’ to ‘digital natives’
The word ‘teen’ was first used in the early 19th century, but concerns about our young people – and how they differ from ‘adult’ society – have been around much, much longer. From Ancient Greece onwards, every new generation of young people has developed its own behaviours and social norms that older members of society must learn to deal with or accept.
Within businesses, 'Generation Y' has been the focus for many years as those born in the 1980s and early 90s have entered the workforce, bringing with them new demands and ways of working. Now however, attention is turning to a still younger group that is soon to come of age: Generation Z.
Defined as anyone born after 1995, members of Generation Z have been called everything from ‘screenagers’ to ‘digital natives’ and make up a reported two billion of the world’s population. They have simply never known a world without the internet. Where Gen Y have been typecast as entrepreneurial, ambitious and with unrealistic expectations, early reports show their younger counterparts appear to be frugal, display healthier behaviours, and are more outward looking and concerned about doing their part to contribute to social good. Instinctive multi-taskers, they are extremely technology-focused and are hooked on as many as five screens, with a large percentage using a desktop computer, laptop, TV, smartphone and gaming device or tablet on a daily basis.
Growing up with the internet has made Gen Z more collaborative, and concepts such as crowdsourcing and open platform education are seen as the obvious and most efficient way to solve problems. They are much savvier than older generations about how and when they are tracked online and they take privacy seriously; as demonstrated by the fact that they are less likely to use Facebook, regularly use misnomers on social media and frequently turn off geolocation tracking.
Another consequence of Gen Z’s internet-centric upbringing is their impatience. With shorter attention spans and a fear of missing out (or ‘FOMO’), they have no time for technology that doesn’t just work. They’re also rapid-firing, imprecise communicators, using images and videos in place of words and sentences and strongly favour streaming content over downloading.
It won’t be long before we see these traits impacting on businesses. The best companies will learn from members of Generation Z and adapt from them rather than seeking to control them. Whether you’re planning to market to or employ this generation, to do so will require a strong understanding of their values and behaviours and, crucially, a robust infrastructure to support them technologically.
An entire generation of people streaming and sharing video and images in place of text across multiple devices will involve huge volumes of data surging through networks in the Middle East. Organisations that cannot cope will quickly need to get up to speed, or get used to that Fear Of Missing Out themselves.