Beyond Millennials:
Doing business with Generation Z

Every generation is moulded by the potent mixture of political, environmental and social influences they are exposed to in their formative years. With the next wave of young people, Generation Z, heading though their school years, we explore how today’s influences may steer their view of the world and what this means for businesses.

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As Millennials mature, their successors Generation Z, will grow in economic and cultural importance – and these young people come with their own set of influences, aspirations and beliefs. This group, born post-1995, are digital natives, and businesses already recognise their importance as a new market.

Politics could prove to be a major influencer for this group. Global political unrest shaped Millennials’ view of the world, and underpinned a need to trust and believe in the brands they are loyal to, as both customers and employees.

But today’s children are seeing the rise of the individual in struggle, from immigrants to the rebellion of the ordinary person in the street in the Arab Spring. Generation Z knows that anyone can have a voice on the global stage.

They understand that they have to fight for what they want, whether that is home ownership or an education. As they finish school and enter the workforce, they will take that dogged determination and eye for opportunity with them.

This means they look to themselves to drive change: all they may want from employers is to be given the right technological tools and a chance to achieve their aims. We may even see an increase in entrepreneurialism - this is a group with the capacity to keep one-step-ahead of technological change.

The Egalitarian generation

Generation Z has a clearer view of how unbalanced and unfair the world can be. They can see that while some people are free to move around the globe simply because they have the right passport, others are trapped in a cycle of desperation as they fight for a better life.

This will build an innate understanding of the value of democracy and of what can happen when extremism runs rife. This will be a generation of Egalitarians, who are naturally financially conservative and have an understanding of the value of money.

While the Egalitarians will continue Generation Y’s legacy of expecting good corporate social responsibility from their brands of choice, they will be much less susceptible to the marketing gloss.

Generation Z takes a new direction

Using the travel industry as an example, businesses will have to be more transparent, from their impact on the environment to the way they use customer data. Token ‘planting trees’ projects will not appease this group of caring conservatives.

And this is also a generation that knows it may see the Earth reach an environmental tipping point, the ice caps are melting at our poles and the Great Barrier Reef is dying. They know the time has come to put consumerism aside and focus on finding better, less harmful ways to work and play.

Companies which can prove they care about the world and the people in it will be most appealing.

Data will be big news

Where Generation Y grew up sharing every detail of their lives on social networks, Egalitarians will be a generation that understand the benefits – and dangers – of digital information, or Big Data.

Sharing economies have grown with great speed, and more traditional businesses are struggling to keep pace with the new Millennial-style ventures. However, it will only take a couple of well-publicised legal battles to slow this taste for socially-based enterprises, such as Airbnb.

And should the worst happen, the Egalitarian will quickly turn back to the traditional brands - enjoying the security and ‘tried and tested’ approach of these more established businesses, but also demanding a more unique ‘sharing’ style experience.

High-tech travel

The marriage of business travel and technology has proved popular with Generation Y, with 62% saying apps make going away on business a better experience.

But the Egalitarian traveller will think twice about whether they need to travel at all - knowing it is more efficient for their employer if they instead use the latest conferencing software. This, after all, is a group of movers and shakers who are quite comfortable communicating through a technological barrier.

Only time will reveal just how Generation Z and businesses will connect as this group travels into adulthood, yet there is no doubt that this will be another generation which will inspire and engage the corporate world.

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SOURCES OF INSPIRATION
Environmental Defense Fund: https: http://www.edf.org/blog/2015/05/28/6-climate-tipping-points-how-worried-should-we-be
Knoll: https://www.knoll.com/knollnewsdetail/what-comes-after-y-generation-z-arriving-to-the-office-soon
J. Walter Thompson: http://www.jwt.com/blog/consumer_insights/meet-generation-z-in-j-walter-thompson-companys-latest-trend-report/
Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelarthur/2016/03/16/generation-z/#6bbd8c754ba4
GBTA Business traveler Sentiment Index Global Report: https://hub.gbta.org/groups/reviews/item/20/11/2155
Nisha Lilia Diu, of The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/11746954/Look-out-Generation-Z-is-about-to-enter-your-workplace.html
Noreena Hertz, The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/19/think-millennials-have-it-tough-for-generation-k-life-is-even-harsher
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http://news.xerox.co.uk/news/want-to-attract-generation-z-keep-investing-in-smart-transport
http://www.personneltoday.com/pr/pr/meet-generation-z-the-job-market-game-changers/
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http://salt-communications.com/generation-z/