They’ve flown the nest and are making their presence known to the world. “They” are those born between 1995 and 2010. They have inherited the moniker “Generation Zers” from those who make it a business to create a unique brand to distinguish one generation of humanity from another. This new aging group is earning a reputation of becoming a real challenge to the marketing establishment even before many of them have earned a license to fly solo among the clouds with older versions of themselves.
Generation Z is the first to enter adulthood with a mastery of the technology that has so completely disrupted social and marketing norms that had taken former generations a century to establish. This newest generation already accounts for 25.9% of the United States population and is certain to be the most influential consumer group since the famous Baby Boomer generation.
Grouping an entire generation of people into a single marketing segment has its pitfalls. Not every member of any group or demographic segment can be expected to see the world from an identical perspective and follow a single behavioral pattern. However, generational differences and behaviors are influenced by disruptive events, and this newest generation of consumers and social influencers are about to experience many of the same epic social and economic disruptions experienced by predecessors. How is all this emerging disruption going to alter the perceptions of the Z generation?
Until now, members of Generation Z have been predicted to exert behaviors vastly different from previous generations due to a sustained era of relative world peace and stable economic times while being exposed to the internet, social communication networks, and mobile systems. They are a hyper-cognitive group who are constantly connected and very comfortable with researching and collecting information before making decisions. Predicted to be keenly focused on searching for the truth, Generation Zers believe in taking action through conversation, dialogue, and negotiation. Extremely concerned and shy of being labeled, the Z Generation of shoppers greatly favors personal and individualized content.
Recent surveys indicate that as many as fifty-eight percent of this newest consumer group are willing to pay more for personalized offerings, and up to seventy percent are willing to pay a premium for products from brands that embrace causes they identify with. However, only 10-15 percent are comfortable with private data being marketed and shared, a trait that is sure to complicate targeted digital strategies.
After decades of mass-audience approaches, sellers will need to form several methods of connecting personally with prospective consumers through increasingly fragmented digital channels. The Pew Research Center has found that “this generation is the most racially and ethnically diverse, and is on track to be the best educated, in U.S. history.” As they transition from adolescence to adulthood they are more likely to make a future home in metropolitan areas where advanced technology offerings will take center stage in daily lives. Marketers will need to be agile and focused on making connections where generation Z members are listening and be vigilant to changing dynamics in the global market space.
We should all be cautious in placing too much trust in the predicted antics of this youngest generation. Once loose from the confines and influences of institutional learning and parental guidance, this generation, like those who came before, will adjust and reset behaviors and patterns when faced with a reality that differs from previous expectations.
Currently inexperienced in navigating through financial and economic hardships, Generation Z is about to be influenced by increased social and geopolitical disruption and economic recession. Such experiences will alter this generation’s predicted behaviors and attitudes, just as marketing professionals thought they had it all figured out. Stay tuned, connecting with Generation Z may just remain elusive!