We are already more than half way through 2019.
It’s been two decades since we first heard the word ‘Google’, and 10 years since we were introduced to the iPhone. Anyone who was born in the year 2000 will soon be turning 20, and just as we were beginning to understand the millennials, we are now welcoming a new group into the workforce: Generation Z.
Also referred to as ‘digital natives’, members of Generation Z are people born from 1995 to 2010. This generation was immersed in the world of technology at an early age. They grew up surrounded by Wi-Fi, social networks and smartphones, which has transformed how they communicate, interact and access information.
As with every new generation, we can expect to see different behaviours, preferences and priorities from the members of this demographic. It is essential for businesses to understand these generational differences in order to better sell, employ and collaborate with these individuals. This blog will focus on the distinct characteristics of this group, and discuss what we can expect to see from Generation Z.
Gen Z as Consumers:
According to research from MNI Targeted Media, by 2020, Gen Zers will account for 40% of all consumers and influence nearly $4 billion in discretionary spending in the U.S. Along with this influx of young spenders comes a new definition of consumption. Now, consumption means having access to products and services- not necessarily owning them. This has created space for what is called the ‘sharing economy’, in which companies like Uber, Airbnb and Netflix have gained extraordinary success from the peer-to-peer sharing of products and services. After all, why buy a car when you can commute primarily through public transit and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft? As the meaning of consumption begins to shift, companies should consider how to develop more innovative business models, and rethink how they provide value to their customers.
Gen Zers are a conscious and pragmatic generation, and also heavily driven by values. 68% of this population would agree that doing their part to make the world a better place is important to them, and in return has a direct impact on their buying behaviour. More than ever we are seeing companies take a stand on topics or causes that coincide with their brand’s mission and values. As noted in a McKinsey report, most Gen Z consumers are well educated about brands and the realities behind them. They are able to develop an opinion quickly, and spend their money accordingly. Ensuring your business has transparent and sustainable practices is essential, as most Zers will try to purchase products from companies they consider ethical.
Gen Z as Employees:
The next generation is adopting an entrepreneurial mindset at a younger age. As noted by Entrapreneur, 41% of the Gen Z population plan to become entrepreneurs, and their comfort level with technology may help them accomplish this at a young age. For example, we are seeing teenagers use social media platforms such as Instagram or Poshmark to resell clothing, generating healthy margins on the pieces they find at thrift stores or in the back of their closets.
Additionally, MillenialBranding reported that contrary to the assumption that young workers want a ‘constant connection’ with technology, majority of the Gen Z population say they prefer to communicate face to face. If you are managing one of these individuals, consider asking them their preferred method of communication for feedback and meetings. You may be surprised to hear that they prefer an in-person interaction, rather than a conference call or email correspondence.
Finally, just like their Millennial role models, Gen Z is made up of a skilled group of multi-taskers. Perhaps this can be attributed to the countless social media platforms and apps they are constantly flipping through while simultaneously focusing on another task. If you are an employer or manager, don’t assume that multi-tasking translates to aimless distraction and lower productivity. As Forbes noted, this group of employees might start working on a document in the office, revisit it on their phone on the subway, and pull it up on their laptop while watching TV at home. They don’t have as much of a harsh delineation between work and home, which may introduce significant changes to the workplace the future.
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