Gen Z key takeaways
Gen Z is the ﬁrst generation that has lived nearly the entirety of their lives in an online world.
With that digital savvy comes more data than we have ever had before to track, analyze and learn about any previous generation. We know how members of Gen Z spend their time, what they are talking about and what motivates them. We have all of that information at our ﬁngertips.
Businesses must embrace digital transformation — artificial intelligence, automation, 5G and disruptive technologies — in order to be able to appropriately meet the needs of Gen Z, and anticipate that the acceleration we have witnessed will not slow down. Gen Z will be the early adopters and will push these technologies further into the mainstream.
Gen Z not only inﬂuences family purchase decisions more than youth of past generations (given their unprecedented access to information and the innate ability to use it), but they are actually driving purchases in key categories, from autos to furniture and groceries.
They are already a key shopper group and a primary target consumer — and need to be targeted as such. Marketing to a generation of digital natives is also different from past generations. Businesses will need to understand how Gen Z actually uses social media and other digital channels in order to properly leverage inﬂuencer culture strategically and effectively.
Purpose and ESG
Companies cannot afford only lip service on the causes that matter. Stand for something or, in Gen Z's eyes, you stand for nothing.
Sustainability is now a matter of trust. Companies must consider its role in every part of the business, from sourcing and packaging to operations, footprint and investments.
But sustainability is not enough. Organizations must embrace Gen Z’s ambitious expectations across the ESG spectrum, including diversity and inclusion. From Gen Z’s perspective, a genuine commitment to equality is essential for survival. Businesses must proactively embrace these values before plunging proﬁts force them to do so.
This is not a threat but an opportunity to move beyond the mediocrity that has been acceptable for far too long. The potential now exists for real, meaningful and lasting change. What you may only dare to dream of as possible, Gen Z expects.
Trust, transparency and authenticity
Gen Z sniffs out inauthenticity with ease.
They are accustomed to building diverse communities of like-mindedness — fandoms, meetup groups and advocacy hangouts, and they know when they are being pandered to. They won’t overtly demand trust and transparency, but they will silently block you (literally and ﬁguratively) from their lives without a second thought if they feel you are inauthentic. They will have a distaste for anything that looks, feels or is, to them, “fake.”
Gen Z is much more self-aware than previous generations when it comes to mental health and wellbeing.
Due to their digitally connected lifestyle, this generation consumes nonstop communications — news, texts, tweets, emails, work, school, events, etc. — on a global scale instantaneously and always. They live in a constant state of overwhelm. They are admittedly high-stress, anxiety-ridden and untrusting of the world around them. But, they talk about it. They seek help. They want to address mental health. Companies who understand this will recognize the need for Gen Z to ﬁnd holistic outlets for mind and body in all aspects of their lives, not just in terms of ﬁtness or nutrition.
How and where they live and work, what they eat, and where and how they buy will be intentional choices, based on how it makes them feel. The healthcare industry will need to be poised and ready for an onslaught of mental wellness focus in the coming years. But the focus on health must be addressed and needs to start well beyond the hospital.
Gen Z puts higher stakes into ﬁnding fulﬁlling careers where they are valued, versus making money.
Companies must see, hear and treat Gen Z employees as individuals, versus numbers, offering avenues for them to have a voice, to feel they are creating impact, and to feel passionate about what they are doing. Their employment will be short-lived, unless a company aligns with their personal values and makes them feel as if they are contributors.
Gen Z is uniﬁed, even in a room of one.
Experiences are no longer just in-person engagements. They are not just events, digital or physical, but rather the entirety of your relationship with the consumer, whether you control the interaction with your product and brand, or not. Sharing opinions is a given expectation, not an afterthought. The digitally connected experience, for Gen Z, will need to be more emotional, less tactile. Businesses need to be redeﬁning how you think of the "experience," tapping into the "why" versus the "what."