Officially named Generation Z but more commonly known as the “iGeneration”, they are the latest wave of humans born anywhere after 1997. This year is a significant one as the oldest in this group will be entering their 20s and starting work for the first time. Below a is collection of research, statistics and opinions condensed down into the essential things you need to know about these toddlers and teens looking to welcome themselves into the world today.
Despite typically labelled as “screen addicts” with attention spans lasting no longer than a few seconds, many understand that Gen Z will be the ones liable to fixing the mistakes of the recent past and dealing with unprecedented levels of world-change in the form of: increased global warming, turbulent economic policies and unpredictable demographic transformations. However, armed with modern weapons such as complete access to information and ease of unlimited communication through the internet, Gen Z are the first-born into the very recent age of cyberspace – with no experience of anything that came before it. Arguably they are more equipped than anyone before to really revert past aberrations and make a meaningful impact on the world for the better.
But in order for this to happen they are expected to be comfortable with technology and content with social media. According to experts at Fast Company, it’s predicated that by 2020 they will already make-up a third of the population across the Western world and will account for 40% of all spending. The New York Times highlights this technology ataraxia as “untold riches to marketers”, helping signify why the “race to define” this latest wave of children is so hyped by the media and marketers worldwide.
But despite the aforementioned statistics, research conducted by both Fast Company and consultants Honey and Sparks also points towards hidden similarities between Generation Z and their grandparents, the “Silent Generation”, who grew up 50-60 years ago. Interestingly Gen Z tend to be more aware and conservative over their actions online, more money-conscious, more understanding of the geopolitical environment and more knowledgeable on big companies ruling today’s markets that their predecessors. When we look at the eldest Gen Z’ers, the data points towards the increasing difficulties they face while trying to attain graduate jobs, sometimes battling against tens of thousands of applications for the same role. It’s this competition and this new standard of graduate today, with their unlimited access to information and endless array of qualifications that means students today cannot afford to risk taking time-off to travel like their most recent predecessors the “Millennial’s” (those who reached adulthood around the year 2000) could.
Growing up during the 2008 recession has associated them with the “entrepreneurial generation” they are commonly seen as today, spurred on by feelings of unsettlement and insecurity. Many blame their parent’s financial stress and struggles for shaping their “coming of age” and modern world-view. The 2014 study, “Generation Z Goes to College” backs these points and expands further through a series of in-depth interviews with students worldwide today. The study in particular draws attention to how they self-identify with being more compassionate, open-minded and determined than previous generations.
It’s thought that while Millennials helped elect a black president and legalise gay marriage, Generation Z were born with these as the norm and therefore their eyes have been wide open from the beginning.
Today it’s becoming more normal to see once gendered roles such as doctors and personal assistants to become gender-neutral. And thus it’s follows statistically that Gen Z boys today tend to be more family-orientated and are expected to be more actively engaged fathers than their own parents as they grow older.
Using interviews conducted in the aforementioned study, students today desire to “forsake the corporate hustle” for their own controlled start-ups.
Now more than ever, it’s common to love the idea of being pragmatic and working for yourself – derived more as a survival mechanism than an idealist reach for status or wealth.
The Huffington Post add to this by quoting marketing strategist, Deep Patel. His comments draw attention to the newly developing high-tech and highly networked world where “an entire generation is thinking and acting more entrepreneurially”. And why not? Platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are available and provide Gen-Z with free access to seminars, workshops or inspiration we previously needed precious time, money and capabilities to invest into.
But how can one generation be so different from their predecessors? Lucie Green, worldwide director of the innovation Group at J. Walter Thompson brings some interesting points to the table. Her research draws attention to the Millennials as a direct comparison to Gen Z and how they were raised during the boom of the 90s only to see their world crash down with events such as 9/11 and two major economic recessions. Millennials were also shocked to find an unwelcoming job market away from the gold mine promised to them after college.
Gen Z, on the other hand, have been shaped by the recession at a young age as we saw previously. But importantly, Greene notes that even though Gen Z see the workplace as a battlefield, they are inclusive and tolerant of difference, more so than anyone before and we must pay accolade to this fact. They believe they will have to fight for what they want and they’ve become critics over those with ugly corporate cultures or poor working conditions. Emerson Spartz, CEO of the digital media company Dose, adds to the argument, noting how the flashy and conspicuous Abercrombie and Hollister eras are over and instead Gen Z are more concerned with saving money. With free access to information today, Generation Z are heavily influenced by company ethics and what they stand for. Spartz argues they even have a “bullshit filter” built into them or in other words a way in which Gen Z can detect whether a company/ brand is honest or not using the internet.
Today, luck plays a big part in whether you land a job you deserve, contrasting with the entitlement expected by Millennials. And it’s this mentality and tenacity that really pushes Gen Z above the rest. Not only do we owe thanks to past generations in building the foundations for a new diverse and equal generation today, but perhaps and ironically speaking, we can pay tribute to the 2008 economic recession. It shaped and hardened a new wave of go-and-get-it-yourself humans who are raring to make a difference in this world.
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