Millennials move over, there’s a new kid in town. Generation Z, those born 1997 to present, now represent 27 percent of the U.S. population, a larger group than Millennials, and although only older Gen Zs are entering adulthood their impact is already being felt. Theirs is the most ethnically diverse generation to date and the first generation to grow up with technology inherent in their daily lives.
Although it may be easy to assume that Gen Zs will carry on the attitudes and behaviors of Millennials, that assumption is likely incorrect. As the father of both Gen Zs and Millennials I can attest to the fact that these two generations are different in a variety of ways. But for those who may want more background than my personal observation, we worked with our partner, CultureWaves®, on a study to get a better understanding of the Gen Z mindset.
We learned they are pragmatic and get how the world works and where they fit into it. They are inherently cynical. Gen Zs are accustomed to an amount of equality and respect not formerly accorded to children. They are informed and influential.
When it comes to brands, they view themselves as a brand and curate, post, and own brands that help tell the story of who they are. They don’t look to brands for status, exclusivity, or a guarantee of quality. They use brands to create identity.
Since I’m in the food business and happen to be a foodie myself, it’s especially interesting to me that Gen Zs are, by virtue of their upbringing, unintentional foodies. They were brought up in a culture that talks about, celebrates, and entertains with food. I know this firsthand based on my daughter’s credit card charges. This generation learned at an early age what their food can do for them in terms of functional and nutritional value and not just how it tastes.
Although we’re just getting a peek at what Gen Zs will bring to our culture, economy, and society, this generation will be a seismic force as they emerge into adulthood under more prosperous economic circumstances, yet with their own differentiating set of values. All I can say is…watch out world, here come the Zs!