Generation Z, or anyone born after 1995, are a multi-ethnic, gender-fluid generation; a generation that balances progressive views with old-school values.
These are kids raised during a recession by parents continually stressed about steady income and secure finances, and, as they are coming of age at an important, volatile point in history, this is certain to make a significant impact on our market: Spending habits are changing. Jobs are changing. The world, whether we like it or not, is changing. As it always has. But this doesn’t mean completely doing away with the past.
As Social Leverage describes it,
“This tension between traditional responsibility and social liberalism has led us to coin Gen Z as the Pivotal Generation.”
The Pivotal Generation
Youth are “pivoting” toward the more traditional view of hard work, success, and time management that looks more like the previous Gen X and baby boomer generations than the Millenials; Gen Z was raised with an understanding of the harsh realities of the global economy, dealing firsthand with the recent recession while benefiting from interconnected relationships and the unstoppable reach of the digital world.
Ah, the digital world.
Gen Z is also the first generation to not know a life before the internet; before cell phones, before apps and the pressures/relationships found on social media. Knowledge and information is simply easier to attain, use, manipulate, apply.
We’re looking at a forward-thinking, entrepreneurial generation that can’t help but use the tools at their disposal.
According to research found on Forbes, this is what Pivotals are looking for:
1. We want to work for our success, not be discovered
2. We believe that equality is non-negotiable
3. We want brands to be real so we can be unique
4. We have our own system of rules and etiquette for how we use social media
Because of that constant connectedness to social media, Pivotals expect their brands to reflect the same diversity as they see around them; especially online. As the world continues to grow smaller, it becomes clearer and clearer that small, community-based (limited) thinking will no longer be the norm.
Where Millenials were forced to train on the old-world agenda while being forced into a new one, and therefore were forced to break boundaries and rewrite the rules on themselves, Pivotals are able benefit from both the Baby Boomer’s example as well these recent, progressive gains.
The present, and the future
So what can we expect from this?
Well, we can expect a certain amount of awareness and activism at much earlier stages in life. No longer are youth subjected to what their parents (and immediate surroundings) are willing to let them watch/see/experience. It is no longer possible to limit exposure to real-world issues (hence the transforming views discussed above), and thus it is not possible to limit their impact.
Take Zhan Haite who, as a 15-year-old Shanghai student, became a hero for protesting the hukou, the nation’s antiquated system of residence that keeps millions stuck in their hometowns by law. She first organized a protest, and then wrote a well-received op-ed, published as Teen Girl Makes Case for Change in China Daily, to become a national face for change and forward progress.
Or Ziad Ahmed, a Bangladeshi-American student who founded redefy.org at age 17. The site, which takes on racism and stereotypes by giving victims and activists a platform to share their stories, discuss modes of progress and methods of change, and come together as a community, earned Ahmed a seat at Barack Obama’s dinner table last June of 2016.
It’s not that past generations weren’t adept or smart enough to get these things done at such early ages; there are tools available now, as well as unprecedented exposure to what has, and has not, worked in the past. And, also unprecedented, these things are available to just about everyone.
Haite lists one of her idols as Martin Luther King, Jr., a figure she might not have had access to a generation previous.
Generation Z, The Pivotal Generation, the knowledgeable and connected generation, will certainly make their mark on the world.
And, in many ways, they already have.