Get ready for Generation Z. They are not like their predecessors. They are more sober, more practical, and somewhat more socially-challenged, but they are the future. While agreement on exactly what year the Millennial generation ends and Generation Z begins, these young people are roughly 21 and under with about 17 million already in the beginning stages of adulthood.
This is already a fairly large consumer market, one that has marketers licking their chops. But this is a generation (numbering between 60 million and 70 million depending on how one wishes to define it) whose oldest members have come of age during a large recession and who have coped with international conflicts, financial crises, school shootings, and lots of social media. According to recent research, they are more eager to generate income than the past three generations and have not engaged in as many traditional teenage activities such as drinking, having sex, and getting driver's licenses. They are less interested in student debt and far less entrepreneurial than Millennials, but they still want to acquire the skills necessary for success. They are far more interested in individual recognition than they are working in teams to achieve goals, a major departure from Millennials. Generation Z is also the most ethnically diverse in history.
What this means for marketers is unclear, but it is clear that this Generation Z cohort will be quite different from the last. Aversion to risk, a propensity to delay adult responsibilities, a focus on individual outcomes over group participation, and a reduction in the desire to work for one's self among many in this emerging adult age cohort, is a mixed bag but nevertheless indicates that marketers will have to change what they do to meet whatever new social construct emerges. These are digital natives, raised in the presence of and with the aid of unprecedented levels of technology, an age cohort that will have a lot to say about where, when, and how marketers should most effectively reach them. The changes wrought by this generation will be slow and steady, but they will be significant changes nonetheless.
Discussion: in what ways do you think Generation Z differs from the Millennial generation? How do you think that Generation Z will change the way that marketers look at the Marketing Mix?
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