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Generation Z - Trying to Paint a Picture

Posted by Drew Conklin on Mon, Jul 25, 2016 @ 17:07 PM

As the father of a member of Generation Z, I have firsthand knowledge of this group and their digital savviness. There isn't a moment when I am around her or her friends that they don't have their faces buried in their phones. There have been numerous occasions when I'll pick a group up from a party and they are in the back of the car Snapping or Instagramming, rather than having a conversation.

Now while I have this first hand knowledge, it doesn't mean that I understand them completely and I am not sure that anyone really knows them.  The focus of marketers has been on Millenials, but as they start to age, like all generations do, the focus will ultimately shift to Generation Z, and many believe that shift is needing to happen now. 

While it is widely believed that Millenials are the first digital generation, they really are not. In a recent Brooklyn Paper article, Sarah E. Lockyer, editor of Nation's Restaurant News, said "We always believed that Millennials were the first digital natives, but they really weren’t. They weren’t born with a phone in their hand. They got them at 10 or 12." 

So who is this Generation Z, and what makes them tick? This is the million dollar question that marketers are asking themselves (and their parents too). Using my own one person focus group, I can tell you the following:

  • Facebook is not cool, its for "old" people 
  • Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat are the "it" apps - or as they say "Lit"
  • Don't watch traditional TV live, binge watch shows on laptop or phone
  • Brand names are important 
  • Being together in groups is important 

But beyond my small focus group, this is a generation that really has not been studied too much to this point, mostly due to the inordinate amount of research done on Millennials. There are bits and pieces of research here and there, but nothing in one place that really tells the story of who they are. Here are some facts about Generation Z compiled from several sources online:

  • Gen Z has a dismal view of our current leaders, the state of the economy, and the direction of our country*
  • Gen Z is growing up to look more like their Gen X parents, practical and realistic, than their wide-eyed Millennial predecessors; their experiences so far have taught them that life isn't going to be fair, it will be what they make it*
  • 42% of Gen Z feels that social media has a direct impact on how they feel about themselves*
  • Gen Z already possesses $44 billion in spending power^
  • This generation is more realistic when entering the workplace then the optimistic Millenials#
  • 1 in 2 Gen Z adults will attend college, compared to 1 in 4 Millenials#
  • Gen Z mutli-tasks across 5 screens per day (desktop, laptop, smart phone, tablet, tv)#

While this gives us a small glimpse into the next generation, we must remember that the youngest of this generation are still toddlers, with the oldest just graduating college. As with all generations, there are differences within them, especially when there is 20 years between them. 

Now while Generation Z is the next generation, I will be curious about the generation behind them, as I have one of those as well. Let me warn you that this generation will take digital savviness to a whole other level. My almost 4 year old is already a pro at Snapchat filters, YouTube and taking 130 selfies in one sitting on my phone. 

If you want to discuss further your thoughts on Generation Z, even research you have, comment below; and if you are interested in marketing to them, give us a call, we are here to help.

Source: *Center for Generational Kinetics, ^Sourcing Journal, #Small Business Trends

McCulloch+Company is an advertising media services company that integrates the innovation of digital media with the strengths of traditional paths. Founded in 1994 and located in historic Roswell, Georgia, McCulloch+Company is regarded as one of the Southeast's preeminent media agencies. The agency is skilled at managing B2B and B2C clients in a multitude of industry categories. 


Topics: gen z, millenials, generation z

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