Throughout the years, generations have engaged culture in various ways in order to transform it into very distinct eras. In the past few decades, influential generations included Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. More recently, however, there is a new generation that is rapidly shaping the culture we live in. The Centennial generation, more commonly referred to as Generation Z, refers to the global youth population. The term Gen Z refers to individuals born from the year 1997 until the present. This generation has a population of over 2 billion people, and it is quickly becoming one of the most powerful consumer bases in the world. In order to reach this new influential audience, marketers must understand and adapt to the unique goals and driving forces of Generation Z.
A Changeable Culture
One part of the world that Gen Zers are living in that is especially important for marketers to understand is the current global culture of ambiguity. Gen Zers are growing up in a world plagued by unknowns and uncertainty. Quiet towns have transformed into crime-filled cities. Blossoming economies have become stagnant. An abundance of jobs has been replaced with an increasing unemployment rate. Unknowns are the norm.
In contrast to previous generations, Gen Zers, even from a young age, are accustomed to hard times in life. Gen Zers are not living with unrealistic expectations or irrational dreams. They know that they will need to work for what they want in life, and even then, success is not a guarantee. As a result of the increasing number of unknowns in the world, Gen Zers place a high priority on intangible qualities of life such as love and honesty rather than purely material gains. Marketers must then realize that attempting to capitalize solely on consumerist impulses will not necessarily yield the most profit.
A Shifting Population
Another aspect of the current culture that marketers have to adjust to is the increasingly complex relationship between different generations. As the global standard of living is increasing, the average life span is also lengthening. People are living and working longer than they ever have before. This then creates a unique power struggle between old and new generations as they compete for influence of the marketplace. Gen Zers are emerging as an incredibly powerful consumer base while simultaneously having to contend with older generations for control of the market.
This then results in a complex issue for marketers as they are forced to balance marketing simultaneously to different generations. Gen Zers represent an interesting dichotomy, for while they expect to be treated as competent adults, they also want to be viewed as a distinct category from older generations. Consequently, marketers must find a balance when marketing to Gen Zers, which can be done through providing an adequate number of product options to satisfy such a diverse consumer base.
An Information Web
One of the hallmarks of this new Generation Z is their access to technology. For Gen Zers, technology is not a relatively recent invention but a staple of life. Individuals who are part of Generation Z were raised with technology, and it is something they have not known a life without. Gen Zers’ close relationship with technology is not a new concept, but understanding how to effectively leverage technology with knowledge of Gen Zers’ goals is something that marketers are only recently discovering.
As a result of their respect for practicality, Gen Zers are not interested in temporary trends or fads. They are no longer enamored with the “next big thing.” For Gen Zers, a product that is socially conscious is more important than a product that is culturally conventional. Additionally, Gen Zers, while still desiring product options, desire a more tailored, efficient consumer experience. Gen Zers realize that time is a precious commodity and not one that should be spent solely on material pursuits.
Gen Zers are an entirely unique generation who signal a positive driving force in our world. While still being acquainted with the hardships of the world, Gen Zers want to solve these problems, and they desire an audience that will listen to their ideas. Marketers must learn how to capitalize on this creative and innovative spirit in order to completely transform the marketplace and the consumer experience. In essence, Gen Zers desire to learn from the past in order to create a more hopeful future for all.
Reference & Future Reading
Insights and research data provided by Kantar Futures
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