Millennials have been the dominant generation on the marketing landscape for more than a decade. Researchers have poked, prodded, and dissected on this generation native to technology. Now the youngsters are about to overtake them in terms of capturing the attention of brands and marketers. Generation Z, those aged 11 to 21, is the largest generation yet and, thanks to their parents, they have a remarkable amount of purchasing power.
A new, extensive research project — the We Are Gen Z Report — takes a holistic approach to this generation of people born between 1995 and 2005. This generation crosses over the most cultures and is the last majority white non-Hispanic generation. They may even be a minority-majority generation, depending on how the U.S. Census bureau handles its classification of Hispanics.
Three dominant themes emerged from the We Are Gen Z Report: Diversity, inclusion and justice. These themes embody the cross-cultural effect of Gen Z that influences the entire generation, others generations, and the marketplace
This goes beyond a diverse ethnic population. Gen Z is the embodiment of diversity. There are nearly 82 million people in Gen Z and 47% are cross-cultural by some definition.
For Gen Z, diversity means points of view, alternative thinking, gender identification, appearance, technology and consumer behavior. They cannot be pigeonholed. Diversity is represented in everything around them. It affects how they think, act and interact and in turn should affect the way we think, act and interact around Gen Z.
Diversity is neither aspiration nor trend. It is a reality of everyday life for Generation Z. Foods and friends from other cultures are embraced. Cultural distinctions are learned and shared. Likewise, there is no contradiction between learning about new cultures while exploring one’s own roots. The level of comfort with opposing points of views is unprecedented.
In large part, what defines a generation is their relationship with technology available at any given time. The blinding options and fluency at Generation Z’s disposal today in no way overwhelms them as it may previous generations.
Most think inclusion is just another term for diversity, but really it speaks to the reformed way in which Gen Z relates with technology. Technology is embedded into the lives of Gen Z and that generation engages with the brands that connect on Gen Z’s favorite platforms, like Snapchat and Instagram.
Two-thirds of Gen Z report using social media as a means of expression. Another prime example is the Fox TV show, “Empire” which sponsors enhancements on Snapchat. Why be you when you can put yourself in the recording studio? On top of that, the show is a cross-cultural hit.
The emergence of the Millennial generation led to the belief that they would one day change the world. Gen Z is already changing the world. It’s ability to harness the power of social media and technology has provided a platform to speak out about injustice and provides this generation a voice when so many others may have felt unheard in the past.
Social change and its cross-cultural connection are central to the daily lives of the entire generation. It doesn’t hold back from making its beliefs known, nor does it hide when confronting issues like race, gender identity or equality.
Asian and African-American Gen Z are making the most of social media as a tool for social reform, with 65% and 64%, respectively, calling social media a useful platform for social change.
More study is being conducted on this generation and the findings will be revelatory in terms of how they think, act and behave. Already it is easy to see that the standard playbook is not applicable for this continually evolving group.