Gen Z is going to take over the world. Objectively, those born roughly between 1995 and 2010 make up a 2.56bn strong population. They will one day become the movers and shakers of the world. But, according to brand consultancy Dragon Rouge, Gen Z will also be the first generation to actively influence the generations that precede it.
Because Gen Z is the first generation of people who didn’t live in a time when the internet was not omnipresent, their lives are lived in tandem with technology. That means they are more apt to share and create content, styles, trends, art and business online that is then easily spread throughout the rest of the population. For brands trying to appeal to this generation as consumers and as potential employees, beware.
At a recent Dragon Rouge seminar, ‘Keeping up with Gen Z,’ the consultancy explored the demographic that will comprise 40% of consumers, worldwide, by 2020. In an eye-opening morning, the session discussed the challenges awaiting businesses and brands as well as the needs and desires espoused by Generation Z. Dragon Rouge consultant, Marc Richter, and senior consultant, Rosie Brodhurst-hooper, undertook and presented the research.
Three-quarters of those who make up Gen Z want to convert their hobbies into careers. For 62%, financial success isn’t the main symbol of success in life. And, employers have been spoiled with the always-on Millennial workforce; Gen Z is more likely to focus on work at work and then work on side projects in their leisure time.
For recruitment and retention, that presents challenges as employers may face shifting employee needs that don’t align with the current corporate culture. Gen Z wants more flexibility, it wants freedom to change career, it wants to leave work at work to pursue external interests. Additionally, whereas Millennials think sustainability and corporate responsibility is a good thing to have, Gen Z views it as simply the cost of doing business. For Gen Z, doing the right thing is the only way to operate.
As consumers, Gen Z is setting the tone already and forcing brands to appeal to them. There is lower brand loyalty among this generation than with Millennials and those in its age group are more likely to be loyal to influencers, rather than brands. Brands that are leading the way with this fickle group are those that have a high aesthetic standard and value the role of design but also those with a simplified identity and proposition. Imbuing the brand with personality, authenticity, individuality and the ever-elusive coolness factor are also important. That shouldn’t be too much to ask.
Some companies are already acting on this. Coca-Cola’s standout individualisation campaign – which featured individual names on its Coke bottles – was a nascent step in this direction. Nutella, too, has released a range of countless patterns with which it has packaged its iconic jars, allowing for freedom of expression in consumption.
Though the oldest members of Gen Z are only just reaching the workforce, the time is now to consider accommodating what will be a massively influential group in just a few short years.