After recently attending an event entitled “Gen Z: Insights into the Next Consumer Wave,” hosted by Open Mind Strategy, I began realizing just how clueless I was about the next generation coming up behind me.
As a 23 year old millennial, I presumed I would have known what this Gen Z thing was all about. Surely, I’d recognize who these kids obsessed about on Snapchat, who were their main influencers, and what their pastimes included. Demographers and researchers typically define Gen Z as those whose birth years range from the mid-1990s to ending birth years from the early-2020s. I mean, there’s only five or six years between us. How could we be so different?
So, thanks to what I learned at the Gen Z conference, I’ve compiled the 3 most important facts you need to know about the next generation — Gen Z.
1. Everyday They’re Hustlin’
Hustle is defined as a paid or unpaid role that an employee works outside of his or her full-time job. And it might as well be the unofficial catch phrase of the Z Generation. Reveberations from the Great Recession of 2008 has given Gen Z a feeling of insecurity, which is making them strive for more financially — and hustle harder than ever.
In contrast, many millennials today find themselves either unemployed (with a college degree), or taking jobs outside their areas of interest just to get by. Student Loan Hero states that the average graduate of the class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt, which will follow these recent millennial graduates around for years to come. Unlike millennials that had to side-hustle out of necessity, Gen Z are creating their side-hustle early on so that they will never have to go through what they witnessed their older siblings experience.
This generation is constantly thinking about results, keeping up to date and expanding their knowledge. They spend over 3/4 of their free time doing productive or creative activities, be it learning a new make-up technique via YouTube, researching influencers on Instagram, or partaking in sporting activities.
For Gen Z, the term BFF (Best Friends Forever) is a term used liberally, but it may need to be taken with a grain of salt. Whether it’s chatting with a pal on the bus, or meeting someone new at a concert, the Gen Z’er will Facebook-friend you within minutes of meeting. But the connection may only last until the next social channel is introduced.
With new platforms like Snapchat — which leverages disappearing content to create that FOMO feeling in users — Gen Z can keep in touch with all of their friends (or “acquaintances”) without feeling any long-term obligation to stay connected over the long-haul.
As the majority of Gen Z are expected to have millennial parents, there isn’t a big disconnect between the two generations in terms of technology and upbringing. According to Open Mind Strategy, Gen Z, (also referred to as iGeneration), are able to swipe a smartphone before they can even walk. In other words, they are more than just tech savvy; digital is ingrained in their DNA. This creates a mutual respect between the two generations. Gen Z’s parents respect them enough to listen and value their opinions greatly, which results in Gen Z having an incredibly large influence over the purchasing power at home. This influence is particularly strong when it comes to household purchases such as groceries and recreational products.
[You might also like – A Millennial’s Guide to Generation “E”]
And since Gen Z has grown up with digital in their blood (so to speak), they understand the influence that the Internet can have on their own personal brand. As the majority of their idols are online influencers, they too want to get that “#instafame” by gaining followers on their channels and promoting and projecting their own personas.
So what can we learn from these insights? Most importantly, it’s not to assume that Gen Z are the same as millennials. Sure, they have similar interests and viewpoints, but the reasoning behind their actions is completely different. Then again, who knows what the future holds for them? They are still teenagers at the end of the day, and haven’t we all changed since then?
Image credits: Giphy