What We Need To Understand About Generation Z

The difference between Millennials and Generation Z is important to understand in order to prepare your organization, adapt marketing strategy and refocus recruiting efforts to stay relevant for the future.

Generation Z

Generation Z

The Generations

The underlying belief is that generations share historical or social life experiences, the effects of which are relatively stable over the course of their lives. These life experiences tend to distinguish one generation from another. Because of this, we can’t readily predict when one generation will end, and another will begin or what will be enough of a change to tip us over the edge from one generation into the next.

Broadly accepted age definitions.

  • Generation Z: 16 to 22 (youngest born in 2001)
  • Generation Y (Millennial): 23 to 37 (youngest born in 1994)
  • Generation X: 38 to 51 (youngest born in 1979)
  • Baby Boomers: 52 to 71 (youngest born in 1965)

Social Behavior Online

While a significant aspect of Gen Z is the widespread usage of the Internet from an early age. How members of Gen Z think about the internet is most relevant. Unlike Millennials, Gen Z was born into a world overrun with technology. What was once seen as amazing and inspiring inventions, are now taken as a given for teens. The internet is like electric lighting. It is expected to be available at all times, and it costs so little no one bothers to turn it off.

The research suggests three-quarters of Gen Z uses Facebook with Twitter way behind on 44%. While most Gen. Z use Facebook, they are much more likely than older generations to use Instagram (59% compared to 21%), Snapchat (56% compared to 9%) and Twitch (13% compared to 2%). These platforms have a more integral role in their lives. As illustrated in these quotes.

“Social media is positive. It’s shaped my career. I don’t have a CV. I use Instagram as a CV.”   Elias.

 “It’s not just for connecting with friends – but also building your career. We’re not just using social media for our own vain reasons.”    Emily.

Entrepreneurial Ambitions

Gen Z can quickly and efficiently shift between work and play, with multiple distractions going on in the background…working on multiple tasks at once. This behavior will have a significant impact on the work environment. With that in mind, many in Gen Z plan to create their own work environment. According to Gen Z marketing strategist Deep Patel, “the newly developing high-tech and the highly networked world has resulted in an entire generation thinking and acting more entrepreneurially.” Gen Z desires more independent work environments. Fully 72% of teens say they want to start a business someday. This desire for a new type of work environment is one reason why coworking and providers of coworking environments such as We Work are booming. Coworking is a social gathering of people who are working independently, but who share values, and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with people who value working in the same place alongside each other. Despite older people (including parents) being pessimistic about the future for Gen Z, the people most positive about their future are 16 to 22-year-olds themselves. Among Baby Boomers, 54% thought Gen Z lives would be worse. But only 41% of those actually in Gen Z agreed.

Global Individuality

Gen Z was born social. In fact, nearly 92% of Gen Z has a digital footprint. Arguably as a result of the celebrities and media they follow, Gen Z seeks uniqueness in all walks of life primarily through the brands they do business with, future employers and brands they associate with. 58% of adults worldwide (age 35+) agree that Gen Z today have more in common with their global peers than they do with adults in their own country.  Gen Z will become more global in their thinking, interactions, and relatability. Notable issues which under-22s listed as more important – include prejudice towards LGBTQ+ people, gender equality, and racism.

Brand Loyalty

Gen Z is highly informed and wants to take charge of their lives and their futures. Research shows that trying to gain the loyalty of Gen Z via traditional loyalty programs, cards and promotions is a losing battle. Gen Z is simply much less interested in these things. Getting Gen Z consumers to be loyal to a brick and mortar store will be more challenging than ever. Again research shows that online ordering and delivery are extremely important to Gen Z, and the ability to order online and come into the store to pick it up is, for the first time, declining in importance. The bottom line is that Gen Z expects retailers to get the product to them. Marcie Merriman, executive director of growth strategy at Ernst & Young. “They (Gen Z) expect businesses, brands, and retailers to be loyal to them. If they don’t feel appreciated, they’re going to move on. It’s not about them being loyal to the business.”


Products are no longer the cool thing. According to Marcie Merriman “It was cool to save a dollar … and save money and get something really cheap. Through that whole process they’ve (Gen Z) learned the value is not in the product or the thing, it’s in the experience”. Going out to eat or going to an event are examples of this. More importantly, Gen Z  share these types of experiences via social media and that in a way makes them more ‘tangible”.

Value for Money

Gen Z is influencing the way their parents are spending, more than Millennials ever did. They are challenging parents buying decisions. For instance, teens will ask their parents, “How much are you going to pay for that?” The parents may not be price-sensitive, but their Gen Z children are going to educate upwards, whereas, with Millennials, we didn’t see that type of behavior.


By understanding and focusing on Gen Z now, organizations can appeal to both Gen Z and Millennials. However, If you remain focused on just Millennials, you will lose the generation that’s coming up next. Gen Z has the highest brand expectations. If you can please them, you are also going to please Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers. Gen Z should become your benchmark.

Article based on research by: Ipsos MORI, BBC.

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

Adrian G Stewart

Adrian G Stewart

About adriangstewart

Senior executive with expert knowledge of all aspects of strategic marketing and a track record of creating sustainable competitive advantage. International management and leadership experience in both B2B and B2C organizations. Specialties:Strategic marketing management including; new product development, product life cycle management, business relationship management, market segmentation, marketing information systems, e-commerce and social media marketing.
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