Reaching Generation Z

As the Millennials become just another generation in our workforce, marketers and employers alike are looking at the next wave of consumers/employees: The Homelanders* or Generation Z. Representing only 1.5 percent of the population more than the Millennials, these young people, born 1995 or later, make up 25.9 percent of the United States' population and contribute $44 billion to that country's economy. Moreover, they are different from their predecessors in a number of ways.

While the Millennials—a.k.a. Generation Y—grew up with the World Wide Web, Gen Z is growing up with social media and smart phones. This focus informs everything from their in-school studies to their after-school activities. To give you a sense for the magnitude of this difference, more than half of Gen Z (52 percent) uses YouTube for in-depth research projects and a third uses it to collaborate with classmates and/or watch lessons online.

However, for Gen Z, they are discriminating users of social media. As they watched the average Facebook user age, more than 25 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds simply abandoned the network in 2013. Rather, Gen Z favours Snapchat, Whisper, and Secret—-short-lived, yet visually engaging platforms that accommodate the youngsters' eight-second attention span.

Gen Z does have one thing in common with the Millennials—-their entrepreneurial spirit. About 72 percent of current high-school students aspire to have their own businesses, and 76 percent look forward to turning their hobbies into full-time employment.

These young people are mature, self-directed, and resourceful; they are also dedicated to making a difference. While 26 percent of the 13 to 19 year-olds currently volunteer, 60 percent want their jobs to make a difference in the world, and 76 percent are concerned about "humanity's impact on the planet".

According to futurist Anne Boysen of After the Millennials, "Homelanders might turn out to become the least well-educated cohort, because of the cost of education. Kids surveyed today are less enthusiastic about college than kids surveyed 15 years ago. And it's not because they are less interested in developing their potential!"

Expect this population segment to gain a lot more attention, as it becomes more influential, represents more revenue to companies, and more challenges—and opportunities—for employers.

*The term "Homelanders" was coined by two leading generational experts, Howe and Strauss; some believe this term came from the US establishment in 2003 of the Department of Homeland Security.

From 'The Herman Trend Alert,' by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist, 336.210.3548 or The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group of Companies, Inc.

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