Demographic changes are afoot; will you be ready?


The next generation is coming, and Gen Z is going to be bigger than the last.

Each new generation seems like it receives its own share of grief. Gen X’ers were described as lazy, baby boomers seen as taking prosperity for granted and the millennials are rude and entitled. What’s more, each group seems to think the one that is coming after them is the worst. Soon it will be millennials turn to bash the up-and-coming Gen Z. But just as the millennials outnumbered Xers, the numbers for Gen Z are in, and millennials are about to be pushed out of the top spot.

A look at the numbers

According to Bloomberg News, by 2019 those born after 2001 (aka Gen Z) will total 7.7 billion. That figure amounts to 32 percent of the global population, versus millennials 31.5 percent.

 Of course, nothing is set in stone when it comes to the generations, and different researchers use different dates to divide them up. For instance, Pew says millennials are those born between 1981 and 1996, while the historians William Strauss and Neil Howe who first used the term millennials use the dates 1982 to 2004.

The big differences

Other than age, what will be the big differences between Gen Z and millennials, particularly in terms of what matters to advertisers and their ilk? So far, the major personality shift seems to be from self-centeredness to self-awareness. Millennials are often viewed as entitled and dissatisfied, particularly at work. The reality for millennials is they do rank slightly higher in terms of wanting to work for themselves, but the wave of office perks they seem to enjoy are more the result of companies getting creative to trying to foster stronger work cultures.

 Gen Z already has its own list of generational traits, from how they feel about technology to their desire for more privacy. Some of these stereotypes are grounded in reality. For instance, Gen Z is the first generation to grow up in a completely digital world, making electronics a necessity, not a luxury, to them.

 They also understand better the permanence of any information posted online. As a result, they are more focused on controlling their personal details, guarding their privacy and shying away from Facebook because it doesn’t allow them the control they want.

Appealing to Gen Z

What does this all mean for brands or marketers? A mobile presence is key to the hearts of Gen Z. Google did a deep dive into this new generation and found that they got their first mobile phone younger than millennials did—either in elementary or middle school. They are truly digital natives and use their smartphones more than any other generation. To appeal to them, marketing efforts have to start with mobile, instead of ending there.

Other things to consider with this group is they want to know the benefit of your product or service, and they don’t want you to waste their time. Be prepared to get to the point and explain how your product will help them achieve what they want.

 Each new generation is a new challenge for brands to tackle. Is yours ready to take on Gen Z?