IIEX Forward highlights leading traits of this maturing generation
Generation Z characteristics include being true digital natives, more racially and ethnically diverse than any previous generation, and open to understanding different cultures, people, and ideas. Gen Z also has an estimated purchasing power of $44 billion annually—already. During the recent, virtual IIEX Forward consumer insights and market research event, the session, “Visualizing the 2030 Gen Z Economy,” brought to light that the oldest gen Zers will be in their early 30s at the start of the next decade.
How will Gen Z change business?
There are many implications to take note of now. Number one being: If you’re not optimizing the mobile experience, you’ll lose market share (if not become extinct). This generation spends a lot of time online – sometimes more than 10 hours a day often using a smartphone and at least one other internet-connected device. More interactions and transactions will happen online – and speed matters. Today, Google recommends web page load speed be under two seconds. Any content a business puts online should load quickly. Buffering is not an option.
Being in the fast lane also applies to corporate social responsibility. This generation demands, and puts their purchasing power toward, companies that are transparent, ethical, and regenerative. In the IIEX Forward session, it was noted that for gen Zers shopping is personal:
- 79% want their money to go to a brand they believe in
- 80% believe brands should help make people’s lives better
- 73% are willing to pay more for sustainable products
Brands that are late to state their mission and purpose—beyond profit—likely will lose some market share to those that have an established sustainability mission and social purpose.
1. Brands that lag behind will be phased out. This pertains to online content and corporate social responsibility.
Other leading Generation Z characteristics involve being realistic (since they are coming of age during a pandemic) and hyperconnected – but by the pursuit of connecting through and understanding different truths. According to McKinsey & Company, the search for truth is at the heart of Gen Z’s behavior. Gen Zers want less confrontation and more dialogue. These insights go on to reveal that they believe dialogue combines a high value for individual identity, the rejection of stereotypes, and a considerable degree of pragmatism.
Perhaps such pragmatism is why it was postulated at IIEX that “chief health officers will have the ‘rock star status’” that chief technology officers have today. Growing up during the COVID-19 pandemic likely has helped to foster an endearment for science-backed, trusted brands. It was reported that in the wake of COVID-19, 78% of gen Zers want brands to help build a “better normal.”
2. Gen Zers appreciate science-backed, trusted, collaborative brands. Open dialogue will help drive a brand’s success.
What will a better normal look like?
By 2030, going carbon neutral and closing the loop on product lifecycles will be beginning to peak. And perhaps with Gen Z leadership, by 2050 many different industries will achieve this collaboratively. Gen Z, their predecessors (Millennials) and the generation to follow (Alpha) probably will continue to vote with their dollars by engaging with brands and companies with which their values align.
If Gen Z’s passion for and creativity surrounding change stays strong, then collaborative, transparent organizations will have much to gain. If a better normal includes prioritizing people and planet along with profit, a productive, regenerative business culture may emerge in the near future.
How Generation Z characteristics will impact the economy are becoming more apparent daily. It won’t be long before gen Zers become the next business managers and leaders. The unknown is if their aptitude for change will grow or wane as more enter into adulthood. One certain prediction is that to be accepted in the future by gen Zers, start trying to help others now.