8 key truths about Generation Z

By Anita Black, Dana Asadorian and Hannah Dunnett.

For years now, the marketing and media world have been preoccupied with millenials – getting to grips with the ‘Me, Me, Me Generation’. There is now a new generation that deserves attention – Generation Z, ie those born between 1996 and 2010 – who are guardians of the future and valuable consumers too.

This generation is often talked about interchangeably with their generational neighbours, the millennials but, through spending time with both cohorts, we have identified clear distinctions between them, many of these differences stemming from the contrasting worlds in which they’ve grown up.

Gen Z has grown up during a unique time, during a new wave of political and social turmoil, where poverty is more visible than ever, with terrorism taking on cruder forms – and everything is magnified by the power of online. Many in the West have watched parents struggle through the 2008 recession and in many places around the world these conditions persist, posing huge challenges for Gen Z themselves as they reach adulthood. Layered on top of that is the crisis of climate change, our planet’s ailments are growing and Gen Z care – it is their future. We have all lived through this time of change but for these young people it is the only world they have ever known.

In contrast, millennials grew up in a time of boom and plenty:

  • They were more indulged and near sighted in comparison to Gen Z who are more far sighted and self-motivated – aware there is a world beyond theirs that they need to be conscious of, contribute to, find their own way in.
  • There is a brashness about millennials, assuming all will be fine – or at least that has been the case until recently, when they too have been hit by the new reality. In contrast, and unsurprisingly given the world in which they’ve grown up in, Gen Z are a somewhat anxious generation, focused on conscientiously equipping themselves for the challenging times at hand and ahead.
  • Entrepreneurship is a dream for both generations but for millennials it was to succeed big; Gen Z envision an entrepreneurial working life, prioritising time for them vs money.
  • In an era of growth and success, millennials had it tough in terms of the expectations of others as they were growing up; failure at school, in sport, in social groups was not an option.  Gen Z have been educated to believe in failing forward, not being fearful of failure but seeing it as an opportunity to learn
  • And the boom and plenty spread to digital behaviour; social media emerged as millennials reached teens and adulthood; they over shared and paid for it!  Gen Z have learned from Gen Y’s mistakes – more frugal in their sharing, more privacy conscious.

Anita Black is co-founder, Dana Asadorian is consultant and Hannah Dunnett is consultant of the Magnetic Collective in the USA.

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