ARE WE ALL GENERATION Z NOW?
If your first reaction to that question is “the who, what?” then read on, because Generation Z (‘Gen Z’) are now your customers, your employees and also some of the most exciting entrepreneurs and changemakers around. Think Greta Thunberg, Billie Eilish, Desmond Napoles (okay, I googled the last one).
Gen Z are defined as people born between the mid to late 1990s and 2010. Half of them are already adults and the remainder will reach adulthood before this decade ends, and unlike their millennial cousins and parents (yes you heard me right, some millennials are fast approaching 40) Gen Z are digital natives.
It’s not just that they had a computer from an early age, this cohort have never had a mobile that couldn’t access the internet. They can’t remember a world without social networks and the younger ones don’t remember TV that wasn’t streamed.
Millennials were born in a period of economic prosperity and are regarded as being more oriented towards the ‘self’ and less accepting of diverse views. Gen Z are radically inclusive. They believe in resolving conflicts through dialogue rather than confrontation. These are not the teenage rebels of yore, they drink less, take drugs less, have sex less and go ‘out-out’ less. They already have all the experiences they could want at the touch of an icon on the small screen in the palm of their hand. Their rebellion is against narrow, singular ways of defining the self – they recognize and embrace the multi-faceted nature of the human experience.
But despite their propensity for multi-screen, always on, immediate communication, Gen Z crave face-to-face interaction. And this desire is driven by their search for truth, intimacy and authenticity. However unlike older generations, Gen Z see no distinction between their online and offline selves. Whilst we might default to a catch-up over a cappuccino, Gen Z are as comfortable finding out the ’T’ over a cold brew coffee as they are over real time channels like Snapchat or FaceTime. Their channels of choice replicate face-to-face interaction. Once our catch-up over coffee ends – it’s gone, and if you weren’t there then you missed it. Chatting over Snapchat or FaceTime is the same, it’s more like the experience of being physically present with someone and it encourages the same intimate sharing of experience.
In some senses then our means of communication during lockdown have turned us all into GenZ –we may have our preferred methods but we have all become a lot more comfortable with online face to face communication. My 85 year old mum is as happy as my 18 year old playing board games on our daily video call; I can see the friends I never have time to ‘see-see’ on a four-way WhatsApp video call; and I can raise a birthday toast over Zoom with a good friend many miles away.
I’m not saying communications will be transformed by Covid-19, but it will have altered how some groups communicate and understanding that will be essential to how we communicate in the ‘new normal’.
That’s why we spend so much time on understanding your audience in Actually’s ‘How to actually spread the word’ online training course and we explore what communications channels they use and how to create compelling content for those channels.
To book your place on the next ‘How to actually spread the word’ course, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Join me next time to learn all about the ‘AA generation’…
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