Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y are ubiquitous terms among marketers. So who is Gen Z? Gen Z is also called Generation I or Generation Next. While research is limited on this pre-teen generation, many consider the Gen Z birth period between 1994 and 2004 — the oldest of which are currently of driving age. It is estimated that Gen Z are 23 million strong and growing.
While parts of Gen Y have distant, hazy memories of a pre-smartphone world, Gen Z has no recollection. As a result, Gen Z are true digital natives — having grown-up on iPods, text messaging, Facebook, smart phones and YouTube. They are coming of age publicly on the web, are true multi-taskers and have a no-holds-barred attitude about blogging and digital publishing.
Growing up on the web, Gen Z lives in a wold of instant gratification. Speed Demons thrive on acceleration and next, next, next. To Gen Z, dial-up is as ancient as the dinosaurs. This segment lives for speed and sluggish technology is useless technology. Google — with its emphasis on performance and speed — is well positioned to meet the high-demands of this Gen Z segment. “[Gen Z] will be so good at processing information that they will open doors we can only knock on today,” writes Penelope Trunk, founder of Gen Y social networking site, Brazen Careerist.
Gen Z has grown up with social communities, such as Facebook or Orkut. Meeting, befriending and interacting with the online community is second nature. Accordingly, Community-Organizers value is in their ability to spread messages to vast sums of internet users. Famed generational experts Strauss and Howe theorize that generational behavior is cyclical (e.g. Gen X are independent, Gen Y are team players). This thinking would therefore indicate that Gen Z should be independent. However, the community-oriented nature of the digital world and Gen Z’s place in it might trump this theory.
Of course books are only a metaphor (the Kindle is the new “book”). Open Books find little value in privacy. Personal information is only sensitive when it comes to money. Everything else is fair game. Consider the issue of privacy as it cascades through Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y. Privacy is less of a concern with the more tech-savvy generations. If you thought Gen Y was lax on privacy, Gen Z will blow your mind.
Think 19th Century Russia. Dostoyevsky could publish a 600-page book and it would be the hottest paper in all of Russia. Fast forward to the digital age and we have a much different picture. Today, attention spans could not handle even a 400-page book. Fast forward into the Gen Z’s future and everything is broken into bite-size, manageable pieces. Micro miners thrive on small bits of information. Think Boing-Boing in Twitter-length messages. Information is condensed into its very essence. Micro-blogging, social platforms like Tumblr will emerge very popular among Micro Miners.
Freedom: New way of creativity — The 2010 Freedom trend is about the rise in self-publishing tools, such as Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. As Gen Z are true digital natives, self-publishing tools are a staple of their online lives. Speed Demons enjoy Blogger’s simple, accessible user interface, community-organizers leverage Facebook groups, Open Books use life-streaming sites like Twitter and Micro Miners are Tumblr users for it’s easy search and discovery tools.
There will be a push in marketing to create more captivating campaigns — as 60% of Gen Z want to consume relevant, interesting advertisements. To appeal to this growing audience, marketers will need to focus on entertaining Gen Z –potentially incorporating self-publishing tools into marketing campaigns — to make a connection, then add a brand message. Let Gen Z take control of your brand by fusing entertainment with user-generated content. Consider outsourcing your advertising through user generated campaigns, similar to Pizza Hut.
To learn more about generation trends: