Generation Z will make up about 20% of the workforce and 40% of consumers by 2020. Here are 5 key differences between Generation Z and Millennials, and our perspective on how these differences will impact your business
Generation Z is More Entrepreneurial
Entrepreneurship has been in decline in the US for several decades. Generation Z may reverse that trend. Generation Z is 55% more likely than millennials to start a business. What is driving this trend? Altitude’s Jeremy Finch explains:
Recent reports have labeled Gen Z the “entrepreneurial generation” and highlighted their desire to forsake the corporate grind for their own startups. We found that while Gen Z like the idea of working for themselves, the majority are risk-averse, practical, and pragmatic. Their supposed entrepreneurialism is actually more of a survival mechanism than an idealist reach for status or riches.
Gen Z is equally as likely to become your competition as they are to become your employee. Be prepared to offer autonomy, flexibility, and fair financial compensation as part of your terms of employment if you want to have any hope of enticing these workers to your business.
Generation Z is More Realistic
Millennials, fairly or not, are forever branded as the entitled generation of the participation trophy. But, Millennials didn’t choose this path for themselves. It was a by-product of their upbringing. Millennials grew up in a time of financial prosperity. As did their parents—the Baby Boomers.
Generation Z is coming to the workforce with a completely different perspective than their predecessors. Ryan Jenkins, an expert on the differences between Millennials and Generation Z, reveals:
Seventy-seven percent of Generation Z expect to work harder than previous generations.
Millennials became optimistic thanks to their encouraging Baby Boomer parents and growing up in a time of prosperity and opportunity. Generation Z will be realistic thanks to their skeptical and straight-shooting Generation X parents and growing up in a recession. According to Pew Charitable Trusts, during the Great Recession, the median net worth of Generation Z’s parents fell by nearly 45 percent.
Give these young employees space and autonomy to shine. They are driven to work hard, so let them do that in their most productive way. Marketers, Gen Z is pragmatic and careful with their money. Make the value you offer very clear if you expect to make a sale.
Generation Z Has a Shorter Attention Span
While Millennials grew up as modern technology took hold, Generation Z has been saturated in it from day one. Deep Patel explains:
Millennials are hard to keep engaged, but Gen Z’s attention is even more split. On average, millennials use three screens (and bounce between them intermittently). Gen Zers use five: smartphone, TV, laptop, desktop and tablet.
Knowing this, it will be essential to capture attention quickly and to be present on multiple platforms to ensure that you make it through these filters. Patel lays it out:
If you want them to click on your blog post, watch your video or like your Instagram photo, you need to help them understand what the content is about, why they should care and how it will help or entertain them.
And you need to do it in eight seconds or less. This is an art, and it’s not easy. It’s why today’s best content creators are in such demand.
Getting the right message on the right platform at the right time will be key. And keeping those messages consistent will also be important. Consistency starts with strong branding, including the company name and logo design, and continues with delivering on your brand’s promises.
Employers will need to present interesting challenges as well as opportunities to learn and evolve in their roles to keep Gen Z engaged in the workplace.
Generation Z Grew Up With Personal Brands
Millennials tend to splash every detail of their lives on their social media accounts. Generation Z takes more care in curating the content they share and the image they present on social media. Jeff Fromm describes this phenomenon:
Through social media, they meticulously curate their personal brand to reflect how they want to be perceived. Unlike the millennial generation, Pivotals [Generation Z] only share specific stories, to specific people, on specific channels.
Understanding and respecting this desire for privacy will be important when it comes to connecting with and managing Gen Z. And, if marketers hope to reach this audience, they need to be just as savvy in curating targeted appropriate content for specific channels.
Generation Z has Higher Expectations
Millennials value authenticity in the brands with which they do business. This is true for Generation Z as well. But, Gen Z take it one step further. Like their older cohort, Gen Z is vigilant against ads and being “sold.” But, they also expect to be a part of something bigger.
This new generation is bringing high expectations and a sense of social responsibility with them. Generation Z has opinions and they want to make an impact. Patel explains:
Gen Z is open minded, and believe there’s plenty of room for everyone to thrive together.
This is important for big brands to note. Now more than ever, consumers are eagerly looking to the big brands and companies of the world to facilitate these major changes…
Your messaging needs to be intelligent, thoughtful and inclusive. It’s not about proving that you’re right and someone else is wrong. It’s about including everyone together.
Gen Z is already tired of the status quo. They want their role to make a difference for the better. And they’re not waiting—they already have a strong influence on purchases:
If you’re looking to snag these young visionaries as employees, be prepared to show them how your business is making the world a better, more inclusive place.
And, if you want to sell to them, be ready to create an authentic brand with values they can get behind. For example, if you sell physical products, consider sustainable strategies when creating products and packaging design for those products.
The Future is Here
Millennials have already conquered the workforce. And, shortly, Generation Z is poised to make an equally significant impact. Your business needs to adapt. Or it will become obsolete.
Katie Lundin is with crowdspring, one of the world’s leading marketplaces for crowdsourced logo design, web design, graphic design, product design, and company naming services. She helps entrepreneurs, small businesses and agencies with branding, design, and naming, and regularly writes about entrepreneurship, small business and design on crowdspring’s award-winning small business blog.