Generation Z will soon be the largest group of consumers globally, accounting for around 40% of consumers in Europe and the USA. They’re already hugely influential in family spending decisions.
Whether you’re a boss or a parent of Gen Z’s (or both) it could be hugely helpful for you to understand Gen Z as well as you can. I currently coach and mentor two exceptional Gen Z entrepreneurs and they’ve helped me appreciate some important differences:
Connected from birth
If millennials were digital pioneers, then Gen Z are the first true digital natives – never knowing a time without technology at their fingertips, they demand seamless, on-demand connectivity 24/7.
Disconnected from their elders
Every generation has felt their parents did not understand their world. This generation is right. In the last century, parents didn’t need to watch the same TV shows, listen to the same music or play the same (or any) video games, to understand a little of the worlds those programs, songs and games spoke of. However, to understand the online worlds of Gen Z, it’s not enough to merely surf. With parents who don’t even know what a meme is, it’s easy to see how Gen Zs feel their elders have not walked their path before them.
Intense digital worlds
To understand their worlds, you’d need to experience first hand the intensity of online friendship and romance with people you’ve never met. You’d also need to suffer a kind of bullying, trolling, and shaming by strangers, which older generations struggle to comprehend, as well as the torment of feeling ‘less than’ brought about by witnessing the near-perfect lives (and bodies) of others from the age of 8 or 10.
Gen Z are the most marketed-to children of all time. Their shorter attention span isn’t an inability to concentrate but a sophisticated filter to help them find relevant content faster and more precisely than any generation before them.
Data shows Gen Zers are less likely to have tried alcohol, gotten their driver’s licenses, had sex or gone out regularly without their parents than teens of the previous two or three generations
The 24-hour news cycle and unprecedented access to travel, culture, and ideas has made Gen Z deeply socially aware. As a result, they put a high value on diversity and fairness, using their collective voice and buying power to champion brands that reflect their values. Crucially they fiercely challenge or boycott people or brands they don’t approve of.
Less equipped to handle uncertainty
According to an Australian study of 800 respondents, digital-natives are less able to handle uncertainty. It seems that, like the computer programs they were raised on, Gen Zs tend to process in a binary way. Far from early digital exposure having made them more prepared for life’s ambiguities, whether it’s video games, where you can learn patterns and restart if you make a mistake, Siri which provides answers to virtually any question or Google Maps, designed to eliminate ambiguity, it is possible that technology has compromised a generation’s ability to manage uncertainty.
Scared and Hyper Sensitive
They came of age during recessions, financial crises, war, terror threats, school shootings and under the constant glare of technology and social media. The broad result is a scared generation, cautious and hardened by economic and social turbulence.
Growing up in an era of global instability has driven them to value personal resilience, financial conservatism and hard work. They save and are focused on the future.
Read my piece for Forbes about Turning Your Failure Into Success
Remy Blumenfeld is a creative life coach living in London. He empowers leaders to play the game of life with purpose, grace, and ease. Before training as a coach, he launched a TV Production company that created dozens of groundbreaking, TV shows.