Born after 1996 and comprising 33% of the world’s population, Generation Z or ‘Gen Z’ will outgrow the millennial population even though most are barely even able to vote. Despite this fact, they are considered to be the most influential generation with a more ethically and racially diverse mindset alongside being the highest educated as around 72% look to graduate from university. Such a progressive mindset has led to the ability to not only own their diversity but also vocalise previously weaker opinions like being pro-immigration, environmentally conscious and being more open than ever to the acceptance of changes to the family and societal environment like LGBTQ+ rights and mixed-race households.
Most of all, this openness has created an environment where the need for change and progression has allowed them to experience digital and technological advancements that have changed the modern culture into one where constant development is positioned as an integral life benefit. This new wave of tools, processes and forward thinking has revolutionised the business world in ways that previous generations could have barely dreamed of, and this is only going to accelerate into the future at incredible speed due to the impact that Gen Z is having.
A main factor behind this is that they are the most extroverted generation ever to have existed, where they are not afraid to be loud about what they believe in, proud to support their causes and driven to make sure their voices heard. Their creative, passionate, innovative and technologically focused mentality is harnessed in order to make a difference through how they work and achieve the lofty ambitions, which is why the overwhelming majority are now seeking to work in a freelance or ‘gig’ economy rather than commit to full time employment. This freedom and ability to adapt to any opportunity allows them to prioritise cause over cash, while allowing even the quietest to have a vocal impact on society and has significantly affected this market with the 41% who choose this arrangement having created large-scale opportunities for companies to change their internal structures and better accommodate work in the more creative sectors of the industry.
This same focus on self-achievement has been evidenced through the innovation that is driving the Generation to become more entrepreneurial. Culturally focused, many people of past generations who come from a more ethnically diverse background have referenced to feeling like they are limited or held back in their employment, unable to speak out and actually be heard in a way to effect lasting change. Therefore as Gen Z drives an influx that revitalises the traditional small business sector, the new age focus is also taking the activist approach by purposely competing against conglomerates who have lacked apparent morality, with these previously negatively biased races using their new power to flood the market and create their own individual opportunity through new ideas and creations. There is also the sense that this is almost a modern American dream for the immigrant population who now have much higher ceilings with society’s lowering bias and ability to remotely work without risk of negative interaction.
As with this and the majority of innovation developing, technology is the crucial factor that has allowed such change to exist. The limitless forms of communication have not become a benefit any longer, as instead they are now a continuously vital component of the way that this new age range lives their basic lives, with such native digitalisation driving global
expansion and continuing the march of more inclusion and integration from all markets. New discoveries such as the conceptualisation of cryptocurrency like ‘Bitcoin’, complete social integration to everyday processes and the ability to have complete remote control of every business operation has radicalised how people are able to work and achieve. Something especially important in the current climate where even those sceptical to adapt their methods have embraced the new ways of working that Gen Z are normalising, so that they can allow their businesses to survive and often even grow exponentially despite staff and customers not being able to patronise physical locations.
Such forward momentum is only continuing to provide opportunities that allows the new generation to influence and adapt our understanding, with a refreshing focus on purpose being preferable to pay, meaning that as they are the largest sector companies must now adopt this same ethos too in order to stay competitive with others who seek the best hires. These employees need to see impactful companies who are making positive changes through their policies that also abide by diversity, charity and innovation quotas, meaning that a modern business must now aggressively and openly advocate for this.
The world is evolving at unprecedented speeds, and this is mostly attributed to the effect that generations such as Gen Z influence the world around them. You only need to look at people such as activist Greta Thunberg (love her or loather her )to see how age, authority and tradition no longer constrains the vocal and unafraid leaders of tomorrow. In business, this dynamic youth development is ready to lead their generation through future advancement with their core beliefs all crucial in the world to come, believing that justice and being real, authentic selves are the way forward. Corporate, traditional structures are no longer seen as targets, but instead seen as the past, with Generation Z shaping the future to match their own individual narratives of success.
The biggest task therefore is to truly understand what it means to be part of Generation Z. Internally, there is no place in their minds for a traditional 9-5 office environment where long engagement over menial tasks is the norm. Instead, they have shorter attention spans as a result of the sheer ease that information is now received and taken in, with speed and delivery of content being the primary focus alongside short yet incredibly productive bursts of creativity better fitting their personalities- a key indicator as to why they also adopt the more freelance style of employment.
Externally, when trying to attract this market there is no ability to waste their time by expecting them to sift through unnecessary or unengaging content, and so there must be a greater focus on actively engaging sources that they also find reputable such as influencers on social media platforms. Recommendations from friends, family and trust sources make up the main source of purchase information, with the trust and respect allowing them to believe in the research of others without the need to waste the time doing it themselves.
Being the largest and most engaged consumer base when necessary, even if only for short bursts of attention means that businesses must now work much smarter to connect with their audience. The overly produced marketing and those campaigns which try to mimic popular trends are rejected as fake and desperate in the Gen Z perception, as instead the real and authentic approach must now connect through funny and original methods of using modern day interests. The utilisation of real people versus models or airbrushed celebrities is a key insight, as is the obvious need to stay at the cutting edge of technology with such newer creations like VR marketing slowly developing, this kind of constant innovation will be a crucial factor in becoming a modern brand in the eyes of these consumers.