‘Z(ee)’ latest Consumer
So, the world seems to have finally got a bit of a handle on what a Millennial is and how they behave, which is pretty good news. Unfortunately, there’s already a new breed finding their feet in the modern world, and by all accounts they are nothing short of Millennials on steroids.
Referred to as iGen’s, the truth generation, the Snapchat generation, Gen Zers or, more typically, Generation Z, they are a completely new threat, and you’ll need to adapt your business strategy accordingly.
Unlike Millennials, who grew up in a time of economic freedom, Gen Zers grew up during turbulent periods such as the global recession, where large portions of their upbringing would have been defined by their parents taking financial hits. This has resulted in Gen Zers being far more focused on financial security and stability. Mix this in with their constant access to information and you get a generation who are more aware of the world’s dangers and its problems – so they have some trust issues!
However, there’s no avoiding that they will completely destabilize your current business if you aren’t prepared – so let’s get to know them a bit better. Here are some key characteristics:
“Don’t even think about a one-size fits all approach”
The ability to express individualism through what you consume is far more celebrated and admired than the ability to afford the nice, top of the range and expensive consumer goods. Individualism is their social currency, so don’t even think about a one-size fits all approach.
Mobilizing for a variety of issues
Be authentically open minded
So, they love being individuals, but they will very quickly band together if they find out that anyone is being judged against old traditionalist stereo-types. If you get in the way of someone celebrating their unique identity you can be sure to cause offense to Gen Z.
So, this means that businesses need to display very progressive outlooks on the world, which support everybody’s right to expression of an identity without prejudice. And, more importantly, they need to do it authentically – you’re not going to fool these kids.
Understand your identity and stick to it
As Gen Zers happen to be open-minded – despite rejecting any non-individualistic behavior, they happen to engage openly where there are differences in beliefs or opinions.
A prime example of this being that Gen Zers are more likely to engage with religious institutions, even though, as a group, they have the highest number of atheists of any generation.
Brands need to find a cause which is a natural fit for their identity, one they truly believe in and actively contribute towards. This will allow room for dialogue with consumers whose viewpoints may align, differ or oppose yours- ultimately challenging your brand identity. If you can display an honest belief in the cause and show good reasoning behind it, then, regardless of whether opinions differ, consumers will buy into your brand because of the truth or authenticity which underlies its identity.
Don’t even try bullsh*t these guys
With far more information at their disposal, Gen Zers are far more pragmatic about their decisions compared to previous generations. They have an intense need to know exactly what is going on and to be in control.
It is therefore critical that businesses develop trust between themselves and the consumer and provide total transparency in all aspects. You can be sure they will do their homework. In fact, they are more likely to pay a higher price for a product they can trust, than for a product where there are a few unanswered questions. Don’t bullshit these guys.
Let’s wrap this up
Throughout history, young people have been influencing global trends and consumer behaviors. The first generation of true digital natives, Gen Z, is starting to make itself felt, with the deep desire for truth and authenticity. Increased connectivity amongst people is shortening the generational gaps and increasing the differences between them. However, early adaptation to change allows for businesses to redefine themselves and confirm their influence on an ever-changing world.
So, take the first step, be open to change.