Who are these new graduates?
Move over Millennials! Generation Z kids, who were born between 1995 and 2010, are growing up fast. Generation Z, also known as the Centennials, are starting to join the workforce and they have a much different view of their future. Painfully aware of the great recession, the war on terror and global warming, Generation Z plays on the conservative side and tends toward pragmatic solutions backed up with a “work hard” ethos. Raised by Generation X, the pursuit of safer careers and realistic job prospects is higher on their list of likes.
A big cohort who is born Instagram Ready
Forbes says that Generation Z forms the biggest group within the U.S. population compared to both Baby Boomers and Millennials, a whopping 25%. And they are more Social Media conditioned than the generations that precede them – 60% use Instagram; Snapchat usage also ranks high (if not higher by some reports). While Generation Y and Millennials were the first to wade in to social media and be born with the internet, Generation Z never knew anything but high-speed Internet and grew up with social media embedded in it. Whereas Millennials witnessed the birth of the smartphone and had to beg their parents to buy them one, Generation Z already played with one in their cribs. As a result, Google calls Millennials ‘mobile pioneers’ and refers to Generation Z as ‘mobile natives’.
Mobile First, but different cool brands
For Generation Z, shopping on Mobile and buying online are synonymous. Think with Google reported that 53% use smartphones to make purchases and 2 out of the 3 purchases are made online.
This generation loses sleep because they watch too much mobile video. So, it’s not a surprise that YouTube, Google and Netflix all ranked highest in both awareness and coolness, but name brands like McDonalds, Whatsapp and Yahoo with high awareness, lagged on the coolness scale when compared to Millennials.
The Great Recession - a Teacher
Generation Z saw the Great Recession of 2008 pummel both their parents and Millennials, yet they have interpreted such a workforce shock in a unique way. No doubt, the recession is the reason why job security is a paramount concern. They’ve collectively decided that they can’t rely on jobs from others or from Fortune 500 companies and they’ve made a decided turn toward entrepreneurship and well known career tracks like law, engineering, finance, software programming and project management.
Greater Diversity and Self-image
Including a greater percentage of black, Hispanic, Asian and mixed race individuals, Generation Z has a bold new face representing greater diversity. Trends are driven by social media influencers and numbers of followers can equate to social status in the real world. Generation Z also uses technology to show friends their creativity with photo sharing, video, music, fan-fiction and more. Because there are no borders about who they follow, interact with and learn from, Gen Z can engage and find friends throughout the world, giving them a better understanding of different cultures - an edge that will one day parlay well into roles in global business.
Social, but Conservative
Generation Z functions as a more socially conservative lot who post more judiciously. More self-conscious and aesthetically focused – perhaps due to the need to fill a regular regime of selfies – Generation Z takes grooming as seriously as they curate their social media presence. Generation Z also fits the bill of social conservatism in a good way. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, surveys found a 40% reduction in teen pregnancy, a 38% drop in alcohol and drug abuse, as well as a 28% reduction in the high school dropout rate.
To sum up
Don’t lump Generation Z in with Millennials! These digital natives are the most pragmatic, technology savvy and social media aware cohort yet. Although they are YouTube sponges, they tend to be more tech savvy, realistic, hard-working and entrepreneurial – all important attributes to pay attention to, as businesses pour over big data and embrace artificial intelligence. Generation Z will also comprise the bulk of consumers too, as their influence drives online, mobile first shopping. With the oldest of the Gen Z crowd wrapping up college and university programs, they are most certainly on their way downtown to look for work, potentially seeking cool brands for both shopping and employment.