Generation Z Is Coming. Is Your Business Prepared?

The next generation of consumers is maturing rapidly. How will your business adapt to the up-and-comers of tomorrow?

Business trends are always changing, that’s no secret. Consumer-facing businesses must adapt or die when faced with changing generations and their varying spending habits. Just when you thought you had those “Millennials” figured out, “Generation Zers” are here to shake things up.

So what consumer trends have we been dealing with over the past few decades?

Greatest Generation: This generation are of the WWII veteran era. The use of “great” here refers to their experience in the Great Depression and then participating in the war. Everyone born between 1930 and 1945 is bracketed in this consumer group.

Baby Boomers: This group of consumers from the post-war era consists of everyone born between 1946 and 1964, during the post-war “baby boom”. Much like the “Greatests”, this generation didn’t experience much technology growing up, meaning some of them struggle with today’s innovative world.

Generation X: A huge generation that spans the years between 1965 and 1984. These people typically find themselves in an awkward stage between coming to terms with the digital world while also hanging on to the classical traditions of old.

Millennials: This generation is a huge contributor to today’s business; many of the world’s young CEOs and innovators are of the Millennial generation. Everyone born between 1982 and 1998 is considered to be a Millennial. This group adapted from growing up in a pre-digital age, but have been able to thrive in the technology boost of the last several years.

Generation Z: Unfolding before our eyes…

So where do we begin with the up-and-coming Generation Zers? This is the post-millennial generation born after the ‘90s, although parameters are yet to be set on the cut-off point between Millennials and Zers. The oldest of the Gen Zers are just finishing up college and looking for full-time jobs, while the youngest of the bunch are just making their way into the awkward stages of middle school and high school.

The biggest difference between Generation Z and previous generations is that Gen Zers don’t know of a world before technology. The internet has always been an available resource in their lifetimes, and smartphones are like an extra limb to them. They are growing up in an uprising economy and are eager to start their own lives.

The New York Times posted an article about Generation Z and their consumer habits. It seems that Gen Zers tend to be more independent than previous eras and don’t want their parents to teach them everything; they thrive when growing independently.

This generation has also grown up enclosed in the social media bubble. They’ve realized how easy it is to share what they’re doing with the world and how important it is to exude a successful and interesting self image.

But if you’re assuming Gen Zers are just social media-addicted, internet-engulfed kids, think again. According to a study by the J Walter Thompson Worldwide Innovation Group, Gen Zers are primarily concerned about creating an ethically-minded and fair world. The study also showed that 83% of Generation Zers are focused on saving money for the future and contributing to society. These are smart and independent youngsters who will fill the jobs of our future economy.

So what do Generation Z want from your business?

Chances are you’ve already seen many Gen Zers around. You may have kids that fall into this group, or you may be looking to hire Generation Zers in the near future. Hey, you might even be a Gen Zer.

To better your business for the future, figure out how to innovate in order to accommodate this changing demographic. Here are four ways you can prepare for the next generation:

  1. Be diverse in how you do business. The days of being just a brick-and-mortar business are quickly slipping away. More people than ever are making purchases online, and it’s very difficult to compete in a business world when you don’t take advantage of the largest amount of revenue. However, don’t assume that an online-only business is the solution either. Gen Zers prefer to do business both online and in-store – in fact, 63% say they prefer shopping in a physical store.
  2. Make sure you’re mobile friendly. Never has it been more important to make sure your site is mobile friendly. Not only does this create an enhanced experience for the user, Google actually penalizes sites that aren’t deemed mobile friendly. Also, consider creating an app for your business. 86% of Gen Zers interact with their phones at least twice a day (with most doing lots more than that). Make sure your site is ready for the mobile-savvy generation.
  3. Take advantage of social media. As we mentioned before, Gen Zers grew up in the midst of the social media buzz. That means they understand that if something goes wrong they can (and will) complain about it on Twitter or Facebook. It’s vital that your business has a social media presence, but make sure you’re always on top of it. When you receive criticism, don’t hesitate to make things right. Make sure you reply to each piece of interaction you receive from Gen Zers on social media.
  4. Be ethically conscious. Gen Zers have grown up seeing several debates about the environment such as climate change and pollution. They want to do business with companies that are devoted to making the world a better place. You never want to come off as a thoughtless organization, no matter how good of a job you can provide to a Gen Zer. Most of them are far more interested in good ethics.

With Generation Z being so new, we’re still finding out how businesses will need to change in order to adapt. However, it’s safe to say that Gen Zers are tech geniuses with good ethics in place. Sure, sometimes we see them as teenagers with attitude, but in reality they are the up-and-coming generation. They’re tomorrow’s CEOs and leaders. Is your business ready?

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