Double click on America’s Generation Z: social media, connectivity, and diversity.


As the first truly global generation, Gen Zs are deeply connected with the people and events around the world. They see life differently from their previous generations, with a unique set of priorities and tastes, and are entering a world that is, in itself, also different from the one in which their parents lived. 

They tend to see themselves as part of a universal digital community, where experiences, and not things, matter most. At the same time, they feel empowered - they believe in themselves and the way they contribute to their own communities: to them, it's about fostering connections that have meaning and, for that reason, Gen Zers are also highly critical thinkers that value authenticity, diversity, and sustainability. Their early years are shaping them into the most entrepreneurial and politically active generation since the Baby Boomers.

This is the right moment for the world to turn its attention to this generation (69M in the US). And that's because, as they enter the job market with a bigger purchasing power than the generations before, they'll also begin to expect more from both their employers and the brands they consume. Brands that understand how Gen Zers think and feel will be more prepared to cater to them in this near future.

Who carries the 'GenZ' in their DNA?

Generation Z is the generation of children born during the mid to late 1990s through 2010. They're also known as "Centennials", "Post Millennials" and, sometimes, as "iGen", "Founders", "Plurals" or "Homelanders". The term "Screenagers" is also used, referring to their regular use of mobile devices and platforms. 

Just like the Millennials, this group has not only seen 9/11 but also lived through the Columbine high school massacre in 1999, two important events that led to an increase in school security nation-wide.

The oldest of this generation are now just above 20 years old, while the youngest have just started pre-school. Their impact on the world will only increase as  they grow up and enter the job market, impacting everything from  marketing to technology, from leadership practices to workplace culture, as well as consumer preferences and priorities.

Social media and digital connectivity are essential to Generation Z

The most distinctive characteristic shared by this age group is that they are the first digital native generation that lives, primarily, online. Having been born in direct contact with the Internet they have, with the years, developed a huge dependency on it. 

This is also the first generation to have been born in a world where technology is now rooted in all aspects of life. They're used to having acces to information at the tip of their fingers and expect the same ease when it comes to connecting with brands - within reason. At a time when content is king, these digital natives want brands to provide it in abundance. 

Gen Zers are also expert users of technology and live constantly connected, globally. Their values revolve around immediatism and reliability, specially online. And, through their use of digital devices, the insight we have into this generation is much broader than the previous one, especially due to the importance that digital plays in their lives. Generation Z appropriates itself of culture, viralizes it, then mixes it up and creates new recipes out of it, incorporating it into their daily lives - as a name for one of their Whatsapp groups.

They spend a lot of their time online, but they also watch TV, listen to music and play videogames in their free hours. But still, their favorite platforms are Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. 

On Instagram, they share videos and pictures, and follow friends and family. And then, there's TikTok, the Chinese social platform that has become the current hype among teenagers, where Spotify hits become dance challenges and creators make art out of art. It's the platform that marked a before and after on how to emotionally connect with young people.

With all of this, it's now key for companies and brands to be present on TikTok, if they want to communicate with this generation. Thirdly, there's Snapchat, the app that allows users to send pictures and videos that disappear after 10 seconds. Snapchat lives on to demonstrate a more informal side to this generation, which opposes itself from traditional Facebook or Twitter posts.  

How do we reach them?

Traditional methods don't resonate with the Gen Zer culture. This means that companies need to adapt their marketing strategies to include digital and social media if they want to reach this audience. 

There are many ways that brands can effectively connect with them. At the very least, they should be present online, posting relevant content relugarly and participating in the social media conversations that their potential clients are having.

Another important aspect about the Generation Z is how they work as a global community and can be highly critical when it comes to brands and companies. Especially if these are aggressive, out of tone, or provide a negative consumer experience. 

These, coupled with their sense of immediacy and expert use of technology, can become a destabilizing factor for any brand that is not ready to answer appropriately: if you want your company to success among Gen Zers, you must show that you respect them as people, not just as consumers of your products or services. They're used to immediate gratification and expect everything to be quick and easy. They want things now, without having to wait. They're also more likely to buy online than in store. And they're confident about their consumer capabilities: they know want they want and how to get it.

It's key to keep your brand close to them. They won't listen to you or consider your product if they can't relate to your culture as a brand. This doesn't mean you need to be exactly like them, but it should serve as an encouragement to seek points in common so that they feel like they can trust what you have to say.

How they communicate

Their world is different from yours. Don't try to understand or even fight it. They were born at a digital era when everything is within reach and have grown up with technology always present. And the way they communicate? Of course, that's different too.

There's a big difference in how Gen Zers talk among each other from the way the previous generations communicated. Their used to being more open and less formal, as well as to having more freedom in what they do - instead of having to follow rules all the type, like Millennials do. 

In fact, Gen Zers and Millennials share many social and cultural characteristics. But where they differ is in the way they interact with technology: Gen Zers are greater experts in it use, having been more exposed to it. They consider it as a powerful tool at their disposal.

Additionally, Gen Zers love to feel heard. They want to participate in the process of decision making and they like to feel as if they're making a difference. They're comfortable with change, but only if it means something to them; they don't like to be forced to do something that doesn't makes sense for them or their community.

Your brand values won't matter to them unless they align with Gen Zers own values - especially when it comes to social justice.

It's common to see Gen Zers accused of having a lower attention spam, mainly because they tend to do many things at once. But this is not necessarily right: the truth is that the way this age group processes information is different, though to us it might seem like a distraction.

Where is and how is Generation Z?

Gen Z is more diverse, empathetic, globally connected and socially conscious than any of its predecessors. They worry about the same things as most people: their friends, family, and own well-being. But they're also very aware of the world around them and very conscious about the future. They're not afraid of calling out what they consider bad. And among their chief concerns are the environment, climate change, global warming and equality.

In the European Union alone, 20.8% of this generation considers itself as LGBTQ - double than Millennials and 5 times more than Generation X.

While Millennials have been criticized for being lazy and overpriviledged, Generation Z seems not to mind any of it. They're more concerned with their impact and influence in the world than getting a good job at a good company. They believe in living life more sustainably and in helping others, even if that means spending less on themselves.

Gen Zers have been slowly incorporating themselves into the job market and, by 2023, are expected to play a major part in the labor force globally. They are also expected to become the most digitally-empowered generation.

Because they grew up with technology, they're also used to learning new skills on their own, without relying on anybody's help. This means that they're not afraid to try new things, feeling comfortable working both independently and in collaboration. This means they perform just as well in individual as in group scenarios. 

They're used to easily accessing information, and tend to seek it before making decisions - especially when it comes to doing business with your brand. This means your company should have information about it online, like a website or a LinkedIn profile.

Young, tech-savvy, and entrepreneurs

According to a recent study by Nielsen, 91% of Gen Zers surveyed said they planned to start their own business some day. But the most surprising: 58% said they would open their own business before graduating university. 

This profile makes them the ideal "entreprenerds". But, what does that mean for the companies that want to hire Gen Zers? It means that, to attract young talent, you need to offer them more than just an opportunity for growth within your organization. You need to offer them an opportunity for growth and flexibility. Give them the room to grow. 

Generation Z has values, objectives and ideas that are unique. They are optimists and fond of technology and its devices, always ready to try new things. The smartest people are working to understand this generation. Because they're an important audience, packed with insights for the marketing industry. Their distinctive values make them key for any organization looking to better study today's consumer behavior. And, as they grow and become each time more influent, it will be valuable that brands understand what motivates them, so they can keep communicating with Gen Zers throughout the years. 

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