Dependent on technology, caring about the environment, having a different attitude to work, and at the same time mentally sensitive. A huge change in society is taking place before our eyes, as Generation Z is driven by values and visions deeply marked by social networks.
Table of Contents:
- What is generation Z?
- Generation Z – characteristics
- Not to be confused with millenials
- Generation Z – how do they see themselves in the future?
- They are characterized by momentum
- What is a job for Z?
- Cultural omnibuses
- Generation Z – what expectations?
- Specific priority
- Why is Generation Z so stressed at work?
- Generational differences
- Z vs social media
- Back to good old teleshopping
- Demanding customers
- Digital natives
What is generation Z?
One of the first Pew Research Center studies on Generation Z is from November 15, 2018. At the time, the new generation had yet to be named, and the institute limited itself to identifying the new group as the “post-millenial generation,” i.e., the “post-millennial generation. any child born on January 1, 1997. or later. Fun fact, it was almost called “IGeneration,” in reference to Apple products. Soon , however, the Oxford, Merriam-Webster and Urban Dictionary retained the term Generation Z, which appeared as the first keyword in Google searches – and according to think tanks and economic analysis institutes, this was the hammer argument that outweighed all others.
According to Global Water Intelligence (GWI), by the summer of 2020. Generation Z became fully aware of their membership in the same generational group, under the pretext of a trend that quickly turned into a meme: mocking the attitudes of their immediate predecessors, Millenials. During the same period, the number of Google searches for the keyword “Gen Z” exceeded the keyword “Millenials” for the first time. Generation Z thus seems to differ from previous generations at least on this point: it became aware of its historical situation and specifics very early on, and verbalized its membership in a common group.
Another historical phenomenon that has allowed Generation Z to realize itself and realize itself as an individual is the environmental crisis. 68% of the younger generation wants to get involved in combating the climate crisis, compared to 46% of those 65 and older. Again, Generation Z has realized the uniqueness of its historical situation. In September 2021, an article in the Guardian recalled that a person born in 2000 will experience seven times more extreme heat waves than a person born in 1960. Recall Roosevelt’s words, taken up by Strauss-Howe’s theory of the generational cycle: “There is a mysterious cycle at work in human history. In some generations we give much of ourselves. Much is demanded of others. Ours has an encounter with destiny.” There is no doubt that the spirit of this expression shapes the collective identity of Generation Z today.
Generation Z – characteristics
Generation Z is addicted to the social networks that invaded their lives a decade ago. This happened mainly around 2010. Even though Linkedin, YouTube and Facebook were born in 2004, they were powerful enough to influence in 2010, while Pinterest and Instagram (2010), Snapchat (2011) and TikTok (2016) also emerged. This is the first generation to face this avalanche of information. They are not mentally ready to see, understand and listen to everything they have access to. Basically, this is the generation that has been exploited by social media and has the consequences…. The consequences are measurable: so 93% of these young people say they seek “likes” on social networks; More than two-thirds (68%) envy others on social media. They feel that others live in a better reality than they do, and nearly half (40%) believe that social media has a negative impact on their lives. At the same time, the pandemic has shaken up their mental health, which has already been affected by social media: a quarter (26%) say they have experienced major depression, half (47%) say they have experienced moments of anxiety over the past year, and two-thirds (63%) say COVID-19 has affected them psychologically. While this is self-assessment, with all the limitations that come with it, it is still a red flag that is hard to ignore. The younger generation is ambitious and entrepreneurial, but they are also emotionally fragile. This is a de facto stressed generation that seeks above all, in everything it consumes, in everything it does, to relive experiences and share them on social media.
This new generation sets the pace of social networking, creates and breaks trends, and considers itself the best. This generation Z is the first to be born into a world completely driven by computers and the Internet. He has never known a world without the World Wide Web. Wikipedia tells us that this generation is defined by its relationships through virtual platforms, rather than actual relationships, it is sort of soldered to the phone.
A BBC survey found that members of Generation Z were sensitive to prejudice and discrimination against LGBT people, gender equality and racism. For the New York Times, this generation has a non-traditional view of gender and identity, and its members are really open when it comes to gender and sexuality.
Not to be confused with millenials
What is so special about this generation compared to even the previous one, Generation Y? This is a generation that fell into digitization when it was born, so it developed its representations, its imagination, its relationship with the world in a completely digital way. It is both a horizontal world in which communication and relational skills are fundamental. This is not a world where relationships are artificial, as they are often digital. These are real relationships. Generation Z knows that there is a staging of the self in social networks, they absolutely refuse to be fooled, but they also have fun with it. But he is also looking for transparent relationships. It also has a sense of belonging to many groups.
Seventy-two percent of this new generation believe they cannot do without their phones for more than a day. At the same time, these young people are aware of the excessive use of their cell phones, and some are even trying to get away from them a bit. “For a while, we thought that with the shutdown, this generation would be able to cope, because they would sit behind a cell phone all day and enjoy it. Eventually it was realized that he hated being under house arrest, whether behind a cell phone or at home. Generation Z needs to be in the presence of the other, and we see a form of digital saturation in some young people.“ claims psychologist Elisabeth Soulie.
Born in the early 1990s, they have never known a world without the Web.“The Internet, for them, is everything. It’s more than a tool, it’s their universe, a place for their exchanges and experiments.“Their way of being, simultaneously connected, horizontal and creative, innervates everything in our society,” says philosopher Michel Serres. “They are changing the way we work, travel, learn and consume. Does that make them better? I don’t know, but they are different. Understanding them is key: our world is rolling toward their world.“
These young people do not have the same vision of information
Like previous generations. First, for them, information is not avoided, but multiplied. As such, they advocate sharing rather than hoarding. There is clearly a break with the baby boomer and X generations eager for knowledge. These young people are fully aware of the obsolescence of information. What matters to them is not having the information, but knowing where to find it. Another noticeable difference is that they take the initiative to get information and do not wait for it to be provided to them by their superiors. In the same way, they will often take care to verify the information provided and enrich it.
Generation Z – how do they see themselves in the future?
Generation Z is portrayed as individualistic and even narcissistic. For their part, they prefer to evoke the need for personalization. Taking care or wanting to improve one’s own image does not contradict the need to be an actor in the collective. On the contrary, the individual strengthens the group, but is nothing without others. When asked what is the main vector of their commitment to the company, he praises the team before other criteria, which are the mission, customers, the manager or themselves. More than other generations, the Z’s need others to exist, and that’s good news for companies and society. It is up to us to take these ruptures into account and be able to build a welcoming and trusting environment capable of promoting such collective expression. This is a challenge for the management system, not just for managers. This major challenge is intergenerational management. They are united by a deep awareness of the task ahead of them and see themselves as kings of the world in 10 years. And above all, they do it themselves, from A to Z. They were always told that there was no more work, that there was no more future. So they inevitably hacked, searched, sniffed, copied and pasted. They looked at the Zuckerbergs, Gevinsons and Normans.
They are characterized by momentum
When looking for a Z image, we can compare it to a state-of-the-art upgrade that we will try to install on an old Windows 98 computer. This old CP is an economic, legal and educational system that obviously does not suit them. Not that they don’t know the codes and keys. They’re all there, within reach of Google (“We’re in constant self-learning,” they assure). But where Millenials dreamed of short-circuiting this outdated system from within, they say to themselves: leave it to you, your old world, we’ll make another, next door, much better. The point is that they don’t doubt anything. This is the momentum generation, the Zorro generation. It’s not their fault they’re named Z, but they wear it well nonetheless. After them, a new alphabet will begin.
What is a job for Z?
Long careers, boomerang profiles, slashers, … Different decades that intersect in business have to deal with different expectations. While work is often seen as an end by generations X and Y, Z, born after 1995, see work as an achievement. What are they driven by? Pleasure and the desire to realize oneself. Their relationship with the business world is completely disrupted. What do young Z’s dream about? What are Generation Z’s expectations when it comes to work? Rebels, resistant to all forms of power, zappers, hyper-connected, … there is no shortage of stereotypes about Generation Z, also known as “digital natives” or “Z”! In fact, Gen Z is mainly characterized by a search for meaning and authenticity. Born after 1995, often in a Generation X, Z family, they have not known a world without the Internet. As children in 2000, they experienced the advent of new technologies and the advent of the smartphone, a lever of socialization and part of their identity construction.
Hyper-connectivity is a key feature of this new generation. Generation Z uses a smartphone an average of 4 hours a day. It is both an all-purpose Swiss Army Knife, as it allows you to get information, but most importantly to interact with an extensive network. The use of digital applications is intuitive and sustainable. One of the challenges is whether we take advantage of the positive aspects of this hyperconnection by knowing how to accept its limitations. With instant access to information, Generation Z is comfortable in a dynamic and responsive world. Zappers and multitaskers, Z also has a special relationship with time: they like things to go fast, but they also appreciate relaxation time.
Young people speak languages, especially English, which means that access to culture is no longer limited to the borders of the country to which they belong. Trade between countries has grown exponentially. Globalization is a daily reality for these new generations. All over the world, young people are watching the same TV series or listening to the same music. It is noteworthy that more than actors, young people focus primarily on the proposed universe and characters. They say they learn a lot from the series. For them, culture is also a perishable product. No particular allegiance. In this regard, they are influencers and consumer actors. They do not suffer from culture, but participate in its development through its dissemination and co-creation.
Generation Z – what expectations?
Work is no longer seen as a goal by this new generation and is generally less important than it might have been, at the same age, for our parents and grandparents. This observation is a major transformation of our society, and it is necessary to accept that wage labor is no longer the foundation of the edifice and central to existence.
However, this does not mean that young people are not interested in it. On the contrary, there is no fatality in having to endure alienation or suffering throughout life. It is pleasure and the desire for self-realization that drive their approach, not duty or obedience to the social norm. If they need to create their own jobs, these young people are ready to start a company.
“Z’s” don’t have the same relationship to work as their older colleagues. Their priorities: to be autonomous, find meaning and enjoy the present moment. Young people are distancing themselves from their parents’ working world, which has not always lived up to its promise in terms of social progress. In the face of deepening inequality, a fragile society and environmental disasters, young people want to be free in their choices. For example, they are not afraid to leave a permanent contract to try their luck elsewhere or leave a big city for the countryside to enjoy a more pleasant living environment. For Generation Z, autonomy also means flexibility. Young people prefer management by objectives to management by schedule. Telecommuting is therefore a way of working that they particularly like.
According to a survey conducted by YouGov for the website Monster, published in September 2021, 78% of 18-24 year olds would not accept a job that does not make sense to them. Generation Z seeks to pursue a mission at work that responds to social challenges. Before accepting a job, Z will therefore pay particular attention to the social or environmental impact of the mission. Life balance is also an important parameter. After all, fulfillment also requires a harmonious balance between work and personal life.
The hyperconnection and emergence of immediacy of the modern world has disrupted the relationship with time. If the baby boomers and Generation X choose to separate their professional and personal lives, Generation Z will naturally allow themselves moments of relaxation to go to social networks or invest in a personal project at work. Conversely, a young employee may invest in a midnight professional project or devote part of his weekend to it. He will work not so much out of duty, but out of pleasure. This new attitude toward time has implications for the way young people work. Multitasking, generation Z is able to work on several screens and have a global view of information, switching from one piece of information to another. Z fatigue is rapid. As a result, they want to be able to move quickly from one activity to another, from one mission to another, from one company to another, or even leave it to lead a more personal project. For them, work is also a way to find the financial means to live the life they want outside of work.
Habits that are emerging in the labor market are encouraging companies to review their recruitment and management practices. To attract and retain Generation Z, companies will have no choice but to rethink their model to promote horizontality, agility and flexibility.
Why is Generation Z so stressed at work?
The numbers are instructive. According to a recent survey of nearly 12,000 workers worldwide by Cigna International Health, 84% of respondents say they feel stress at work almost daily. Although this phenomenon is not specific to a particular age group, this study shows that Generation Z – that is, people born between the late 1990s and early 2000s. – is most affected.
Indeed, 91% of 18- to 24-year-olds say they feel anxious in the workplace, the BBC found. The same data show that nearly a quarter of this sample believe they are affected by“unmanageable” stress. Even worse, 98% of them say they are dealing with symptoms of burnout. But how can this disturbing phenomenon be explained?
One of the main reasons for this feeling of unease is, not surprisingly, the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. The uncertainty associated with this period has given way to a sense of instability, including economic instability. But while this concern has been common for generations, young people are feeling this economic pressure tenfold. According to data collected by McKinsey and Company and published in October 2022, Generation Z employees are actually more likely than other respondents to report that“their compensation does not allow them to have a good quality of life in the current economic climate.”
One reason is that Gen Z members save little money compared to their elders. Many simply live at the pace of their salary. It is also more difficult for them than other generations to take “necessary steps,” such as acquiring property. In the United States, for example, 59% of 18-24 year olds believe they will never own a home, compared to 29% of 29-34 year olds.
Young people experience a special kind of anxiety because of the “extraordinary climate“ in which they entered the labor market. Many have been forced to graduate virtually and in isolation, only to be immersed in a professional environment without transition. “The need to go to the office and social gatherings … It seems very foreign to many young people. Social aspects of work remain intimidating“. Moreover, these conditions have often hindered the professional development of Generation Z. According to data collected by LinkedIn and obtained by the BBC, 18-25 year olds are the least confident in their jobs of all generations. “Only 43% of Generation Z members feel extremely confident, that is, perfectly capable in all aspects of their role, compared to 59% of Generation Y, Generation X and baby boomers“, detailed the British media. In the long run, this stress may affect the productivity and professional future of Generation Z, the BBC reveals. The solution? young people may need to try to get out of their comfort zone to reduce stress by talking about their difficulties. “They are particularly well prepared to do so and are much more willing to express what is a source of stress and tension in the workplace“.
This is not an invention of consultants. Generation Z is really different from previous generations. It is up to employers to take these changes into account, particularly by fundamentally rethinking work and management methods. These young people are instantaneous, and this phenomenon is even more pronounced in this new generation. With them, everything must go quickly, and waiting is not a register in which they excel. They feel comfortable in this dynamic world and are able to respond brilliantly. Not to mention their multitasking and this zapping culture, where they do several things at once. Our old folk wisdom leads us to the conclusion that we should not mix speed and haste. The research conducted reveals another drawback: speed generates an approach that is more superficial, but also and especially more affective. Additional risk of increased tensions and conflicts in a professional environment where cooperation becomes the key to productivity.
The McKinsey report describes Generation Z as a generation that values individual expression and avoids labels. This is an important fact that will redefine how products are marketed. The one-to-many marketing strategy is dead in the digital age. This means that brands must deliver value to consumers by offering personalization, rather than relying on “fast fashion” tactics.
Relying on hyperpersonalization requires a lot of work. This means more strategy, more content, but also more return on investment. Consumers are willing to pay more for products that showcase their individuality. 58% of the wealthiest consumers and 43% of those with lower incomes say they are willing to pay more for personalized offerings. The demand is there, and these days we have the tools to meet it.
Generation Z is the engaged generation. Its members are mobilized on various issues. They are convinced that through dialogue we can resolve conflicts and improve the world. Finally, they make decisions and maintain relationships with institutions in a very analytical and pragmatic manner.
These behaviors influence how Generation Z consumes and interacts with brands. To attract this audience, companies must be sincere and authentic in their actions and the causes they support. This stands in stark contrast to the public relations mantra of “remaining neutral,” which we have religiously adhered to for years. But keeping silent or supporting the wrong cause can also have the opposite effect. According to a survey conducted by Ad Age, 33% of respondents “have stopped buying from a company that supports a cause they disagree with.” It can be difficult for brands to create an identity, which requires mobilizing behind causes and speaking out on their behalf. But this will soon become the norm. It doesn’t stop there. Young Z also expects brands to be more inclusive in marketing, but also in the composition of the management team. In fact, 76% of Generation Z representatives said they see diversity and inclusion as an important topic for brands. These expectations have a direct impact on financial performance. These new consumers are therefore more likely to purchase a product or service supported by a socially responsible brand. So it’s time to recalculate budgets and identify areas where your company can contribute financially. If you don’t, your competitors will.
Z vs social media
Born in the digital age, Gen Z is familiar with technology and extremely active on social media. And this is where the concept of convenience comes in. Social media is not just a place to go for entertainment or information. This is where they make their purchasing decisions and even buy. The platforms have become so powerful that 69% of Gen Z now want to buy directly through social media.
Fortunately for brands, TikTok (60% of users are Gen Z) understands the need to create a customized social commerce experience. The platform is constantly introducing new e-commerce and advertising features. If you are targeting Gen Z ads and you are not on TikTok, you should start considering this platform, it can be very beneficial for you.
To improve the acquisition funnel, it will be imperative for brands to evaluate their online shopping flow. In social networks, every second counts. The shorter the path between the consumer and the product, the better the companies’ chances of making sales. If customers are constantly redirected or have to leave the page they are on, the likelihood of buying decreases. Customers want to be able to get from point A to point B in the shortest possible time. Customer experience has long been critical to a company’s success. However, its importance is expected to grow with Generation Z. You can start implementing changes in your approach to CX today that will not only increase sales, but also build customer loyalty. Don’t wait until it’s too late. The technology of tomorrow is already here.
Back to good old teleshopping
Entertainment is extremely important to Generation Z. As a result, marketers will have to turn into balancers. Their mission to achieve their sales goals through entertaining (and especially non-salesy) content on the platforms. Live broadcasts, especially live sales or live shopping, have become an ideal way to achieve this goal. It is certainly hard to believe, but we are returning to the era of teleshopping. But next-generation teleshopping that takes advantage of all the new possibilities of influencer marketing and streaming. Live shopping has really taken it to a whole new level.
By 2026, Generation Z will surpass the millennial generation. They will become the largest class of consumers in the United States. Brands need to get to know this group of consumers and their shopping preferences now in order to thrive in the digital future.
Generation Z has grown up with new technologies, which have largely shaped their shopping habits and demands. This generation uses different ways to discover, research and support companies that are active in their community. Brands need to understand the shopping behavior of Generation Z to stay relevant. The authenticity of the products you sell, the way you sell them and what your company represents are essential to connecting with Generation Z.
If brands are loyal to Generation Z, providing personalized and creative experiences that align with their values and needs, then Generation Z will become customers for life.
In their book Generation Z: A Century in the Making (2018), Meghan Grace and Corey Seemiller have synthesized an important body of research on the subject and identify several important facts.
- In 2018, Gen Z had an average of 8.7 accounts on various social networks. With such resources to manage, it makes sense for them to spend an average of three hours or more on social media each day. At the time of the book’s publication, young people between the ages of 16 and 24 were spending up to a third of their time online.
- As a result, members of Generation Z have mastered the art of simultaneously managing several identities that do not exactly coincide: their TikTok account and their Instagram account will have a different style, way of being and speaking that adapts to the medium and context of expression. For the two authors of Generation Z: A Century in the Making, the multiple opportunities for digital personalization in social networks make members of Generation Z strategic managers of so many digital masks.
- Virtuoso managers? For David and Jonah Stillman, in Gen Z @ Work: How the Next Generation Is Transforming the Workplace, this ability to manage multiple personalities is accompanied by real finesse in managing preferences. Gen-Z, not just influencers, feel comfortable adjusting their privacy settings as to who can see what content on what platform. In this way, they manage to become communication managers of their own image, managing their audiences according to the characteristics they want to give to each personality and the perceived function of each social network.
- The consequence of these elements is that the person behind these digital performances is retroactively transformed by all these identities. A study conducted by GenHQ’s iGen Tech Disruption reports that 42% of Gen Z feel directly and intimately impacted by their social networking activities and the success or failure of the various activities they undertake there. That’s 11% more than Millenials, 20% more than Generation X and twice as many as the baby boomer generation. This game of digital masks does not leave them unscathed, and Gen-Z are not insensitive puppeteers (see last section).
- Asynchronicity. According to the two researchers, another consequence of this multiplicity of digital profiles is the asynchronous nature of their social interactions. When we meet in person, the conversation is continuous, synchronous, the discussion has a beginning and an end, and both speakers speak simultaneously. With social networks and messaging services, we all experience asynchronous, time-delayed conversations, chatting on multiple networks with the same people or for days at different times. So the conversation is divided by time, space and even format: exchange a meme by messaging a friend, identify them on an interesting post on another network by sending them a private message on Instagram. If the phenomenon affects all Internet users, Gen-Z necessarily pushes them to a higher level and leads them to a kind of multitasking presence at all times. In the VICE x Ontario study, we learn that 60% of Gen Z regularly use a second digital device when watching a stream or movie, a smartphone to chat with friends, to research the content they are watching, or to play.
- Text is dead, long live video? Gen Z’s favorite platforms seem to be those that favor image over print. On Monday, September 27, the social network TikTok, a stronghold of Generation Z, announced that it had surpassed one billion active users. It was originally built on a model similar to Vine, which has very short ephemeral and viral clips, a maximum of 15 seconds to play in a loop. But today the clips are up to 3 minutes long, and the spectrum of things we express on Tik Tok is virtually unlimited: dance and music, information, humor etc. The other major social network is Instagram, which just a few years ago won decisively the most popular social network match among 16- to 25-year-olds. There is also Youtube, which has become the first place for young people to gain knowledge (see next paragraph). Last to report is the live video streaming platform, Twitch, still very much tied to the gaming culture from which it originated. It is also a response to the growing practice of video games among Generation Z: according to the 2021 survey. By Deloitte Institute 29% of them frequently play video games, compared to 15% among Millenials, and when asked to rank their favorite activity at home, 26% of Gen-Z respond to video games compared to 16% of Millenials.
- Will the future go by sound? Spotify’s huge success among young people indicates that a new and possible way, combining the notoriously solitary activity of listening with the usual features of the social network, whether through sharing playlists on Spotify, collective listening (the phenomenon of ASMR streams). “With the ubiquity of smart speakers and Airpods, combined with screen exposure fatigue, all the elements are coming together to create a huge innovation in social audio. We haven’t learned much since the phone, and Gen Z is already leading the way in future forms of podcasting.”- Spotify executive said in 2015. Since then, a few innovative platforms have tried their luck, such as the Clubhouse app or Twitter’s voice rooms, but far from achieving mass media status, they seem for now to be limited to a few lucky individuals, veteran users and “insiders” of technology and media circles.
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