Millennials – the world’s youngest generation of employees and the primary focus of businesses worldwide. Born between the years 1980 to the mid-1990s many companies are busy trying to understand this group of people who will soon rule our world; corporations are shaping their products, customs, and services to fit millennials’ expectations and needs.
However, most of the business world is now peeking at the second, bigger, and more unpredictable group right behind their predecessors: Generation Z. Born between 1996 and 2010 and also known as iGen, Gen Z is the future of retail. With their non-traditional approach and radically different expectations, businesses are now scrambling to understand their latest wave of clients and employees.
In order to face the challenges that the new generation presents, companies are comparing them with their predecessors. What exactly makes generation Z different from Millennials? For starters, never having lived in a world without smartphones and social media, Gen Z are the most tech-friendly generation till date. Also, having been raised in a world where same-sex marriage and a black president are the norms, they have different values and are far more accepting than their predecessors.
Even though they share numerous similarities, there are distinct differences between Gen Y and Gen Z, the most prominent of which, I have highlighted below:
Born at a time when technology is at their fingertips, Gen-Zers have grown accustomed to the rapidly advancing pace of technology. They expect fast and efficient service, to the point where if anything does not function quick enough they begin to think that something is wrong with it. Therefore the members of the new generation will expect businesses to satisfy their demand and live up to their expectations – else they will be swift to change their loyalties to a corporation that keeps their word.
Needless to say, you won’t find people who are better adapted to technology than the iGen. Surrounded by so many stimuli, these people have learned to process information from multiple sources instantaneously and multi-task like there’s no tomorrow. On the other hand, Gen Z has become so accustomed to instant responses that their average attention span is now approximately 8 seconds – if you cannot communicate your thoughts within that time frame they will swiftly lose interest and move on.
Having been taught from childhood the words ‘we are all equal’, incredible diversity and acceptance of differences are probably the most valuable traits the digital generation has to offer. They are growing in the age of feminists and female presidents, where people of every race, religion, and culture live in harmony around the world – their diversity and ability to connect globally is unparalleled by their previous generations.
Unlike their predecessors, Gen Z’s are far less inclined to publicize their lives on social media. Thus their pronounced inclination towards apps like Snapchat and the Facebook/Instagram Stories features which automatically delete old posts and create a ‘temporary timeline.
Brands are not mere tags and logos for Gen Z. They use their choice of brand to reflect their personality and beliefs – something that businesses should very well keep in mind. iGen is willing to pay more for a brand that has a story, a trait that resonates with their core and reflects their outlook on life.
It’s clear that Gen Z poses an entirely different challenge to firms and businesses all over the globe. How should industries prepare for the drastic change?
Firstly, it is important to remember what Gen Z values the most: honesty and simplicity. They will not hesitate to question the authorities when they feel as if the promises made to them have not been kept. Loyalty will last only as long the corporation stays true to their word – a product of the high expectation trait in the iGen. Next, due to their short attention span, corporations must keep their messages concise – a short viral video with a clear message will work for leagues better in gaining their attention compared to a lengthy promotional advert.
Generation Z holds immense potential for the businesses of the future – if they can meet the challenges that the iGen pose and fulfill their high expectations, corporations are looking towards prosperous years ahead.