For many readers, it may be hard to believe that we’re already talking about the growing importance of Generation Z. It doesn’t seem like that long ago generational cohorts had meaningful names like “The Silent Generation” and “Baby Boomers.” Today, we are focused on letters, and it will be interesting to see where we go next, having reached the end of the alphabet.
Not that long ago that commentators were observing the game-changing characteristics of Generation Y – those born between 1977 and 1995 – but now the conversation for many has shifted to Generation Z. “This emerging consumer group born after the mid 1990's though the early 2000's is set to reach 2.6 billion by 2020,” writes Barbara Thau in an article for Forbes.
If we use January 1, 1996 as the official start date for this generation, we are talking about people who are at most 22 (and a half) years old. So why should business leaders even care about this group? Well, this generation isn’t limited to an allowance from their parents.
Thau writes that Generation Z wields a $44 billion buying power. And that number is obviously only set to grow. Thau also reports retail analyst Oliver Chen as predicting this group will represent 40 percent of the population by the fast-approaching year 2020.
Change-weary marketers may sigh at the need to again update marketing strategies. Those who don’t look too closely may think the same marketing strategies that applied to Generation Y apply to Generation Z. But, while the two groups share certain social values, Generation Z is a different animal, with different experiences and different preferences. Generation Z grew up in an era where smart phones were ubiquitous, whereas, Generation Y was the first to grow up with email.
What does it mean to become aware of the next generation? It doesn’t necessarily mean promoting an 18-year-old to an executive position. But it does mean paying close attention to this rising cohort. How do they interact with media? What do they value? How do they spend their money?
Inclusion, as we say, is a business imperative. Understanding this new, young, and economically strong generation, makes good business sense. Listen to learn. Be inclusive!
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