Three Predictions About Generation Z

In 2010, Gen X, the group defined as having graduated high school around the turn of the millennium, might as well be considered over the hill. Likewise, Gen Yers are slowly growing up and out of their "teen" phase, paving the way for tweens to take the crown. Increasingly, pre-teens of today are becoming more savvy and in tune with behaviors and preferences normally reserved for teens.

So what is this generation -- chronologically called by the name "Generation Z" -- going to look like? Here are three predictions:

1. Sorry, Kindle, Gen Zers are iPad enthusiasts.
The iPad has been the breakthrough device of the year. One could argue that the iPhone 4 or other mobile technologies should take that crown. But the iPad has created an entirely different way of receiving and absorbing information in 2010. Has anyone seen that cool new Popular Mechanics application?

Increasingly, parents are turning to bite-sized devices to entertain and educate their children. The iPad will outpace the iPhone for the chosen "keep the kids entertained device" for Gen Z parents as there is more room for security, limited need for a data plan, and the device will allow parents to hold onto their cell phones versus giving them to the kids to stay occupied. Not to mention the price point of an iPad makes it the perfect, dare I say, in-be"tween" device that's not quite a computer, but not quite not either.



2. They won't take criticism well.
If there's one thing we've learned from Generation Y, it's that they're not to be ... umm ... messed with. One slip of the tongue with a teenager and they're likely to stomp on your foot, leave the room, and start an empire quicker than you can say Facebook. The generation of entitlement is only going to continue to grow, so be prepared to speak to your young-ers the right way.

Sounds weird, doesn't it? Don't ignore it because, from a marketing perspective, it's very important. A group of Gen Zers will be able to sabotage a brand, kill a campaign, and destroy the bottom line of a company with just a few keystrokes on a status update or Twitter. Qualified responses don't matter, perception is reality, and this group is going to have a big opportunity to shift brand perception in an unprecedented way.

3. They will continue to find loopholes.
This is probably the most important prediction as it will affect everything in a marketer's toolbox -- creative, media and loyalty programs included. As information continues to be more accessible, and advertisers look to find a way to reinvent media spaces, such as the 30 second spots, banner placements, etc., Generation Z will continue to find ways to access their information more quickly.

Loyalty programs will become "what have you done for me lately" programs, as the marketplace becomes more competitive, social and referral based. The days of using one brand of toothpaste for years is nearing its end! Creative will need to be more compelling to not just cut through the clutter but to engage this audience in something interactive. Overall, a very interesting game of cat and mouse is about to ensue, and marketers will need to be even more on their toes in choosing the right strategy, creative, and media to engage this audience.

The moral of the story? Engage teens, but prepare for the "über teen." Generation Z is on the rise, and it may just be the most agile, fickle and trickiest to engage generation yet!

3 comments about "Three Predictions About Generation Z".
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  1. Daniel Coates from Youth Pulse, Inc., July 22, 2010 at 6:52 p.m.

    Generations span ~twenty year periods. It was in fact Gen Y that graduated at the turn of the century (hence the reason why Gen Y are also known as 'Millennials'). Here's a quick guide to living generations in America (according to Howe & Strauss - see for more details):

    GI Generation: born 1901–1924
    Silent Generation: born 1925–1942
    Boomers: born 1943–1960
    13th Gen (AKA Gen X): born 1961–1981
    Millennials (AKA Gen Y): born 1982–2004
    Homelanders (AKA Gen Z): born 2005-????

    With this slight correction in mind, Frank's comments regarding Gen Z, whose oldest members are reaching the age of 5 are fascinating.

  2. Allison Ellis from Hopscotch Consulting, July 23, 2010 at 1:20 a.m.

    While I agree with points #1 and #3 about the next generation being more technologically-savvy than their predecessors, I find prediction #2 to be a stretch. These kids are barely potty trained.

  3. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, July 23, 2010 at 11:49 a.m.

    First off you offend me. Gen X is people born after the baby boom! LOL Born 1961 to 1981 (so yes this includes people graduating high school the end of the milenium) But also 42 year olds like me.

    As for Gen Z who picks these titles? I am going to call them something else. LOL And your views will be destroyed by simple things like IPads are Rolexs. Vanity devices for rich people. Will all these kids have Rolex's? You can call them the Tablet/Slate generation but not IPad. Because only 5-10% MAYBE will have IPads. Soon we will have $150-300 Tablets that are just as functional as the IPad and will have way more users.

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