Gen Z takes much technology for granted, so dazzling them with digital tools is a non-starter, said Jonah Stillman. The youngest generation will use digital channels in a different way than their predecessors, the Millennials, he told Velocitize Talks.
There are many misconceptions about Gen Z in the marketplace, said the 19-year-old, who works with his father, David as a consultant on generational issues. Millennials are very collaborative, but Gen Z has grown up in a tough environment and their parents have taught them to compete.
The cohort between 12 and 20 years of age will be more competitive and less collaborative than their Millennial forebears. That sets up some possible workplace clashes once Millennials become managers of Gen Z staff, said Stillman.
Gen Z is the first truly digital native generation. “The majority of my generation doesn’t know a time when our phones were not smart,” he said. It’s hard for digital natives to get excited by technology when they are used to it, and expect to adapt to new tools. When new technologies come, “there’s zero learning curve.”
Marketers who swamped the Millennial cohort have not found the sweet spot for the next demographic, said Stillman, co-author of Gen Z at Work: How the Next Generation is Transforming the Workplace (Harper Collins, 2018).
One area where marketers have found a connection with youth is in the cause marketing area. “Gen Z is all about that,” but it has to be real, said Stillman. Brands need to show they are doing what they say they are.
The generation born in this century grew up with the Great Recession and diminished prospects, so they have developed a practical mindset and entrepreneurial impulse, he said. But at the same time, the notion of the “side hustle” is a part of their expectation, as second shift on something that is a passion or necessity. “The mentality of Gen Z is ‘Why not try?’,” he said.
Brands need to be open-minded about the Gen Z demographic, said Stillman. Every generation wants to shake things up, so marketers need to be avoid preconceptions and depart from their usual routines in order to connect with these consumers.
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Want to know more about Gen Z and its digital habits? Check out a new survey, Reality Bytes: The Digital Experience IS the Human Experience; download it here.