Generation Y and Z

Gen Z can’t be ignored or put off. Not if you’re looking to buy from, sell to, or hire anyone under twenty-five in the next fifteen years, says Aléz Odendaal from Inspiring Interns.

Now, we know what you’re thinking. You’ve only just wrapped your head around the various idiosyncrasies of the millennial generation and now there’s a whole new cohort to consider? But Gen Z can’t be ignored or put off. Not if you’re looking to buy from, sell to, or hire anyone under twenty-five in the next fifteen years.

This is especially true because of the big ways in which Gen Zs differ from their older counterparts. It’s not enough to bracket them all under a banner of ‘youths’ and hope for the best.

As we’ve seen with Millennials, new generations can mean sweeping changes across multiple industries. Just take a look at what they did to department stores, where they get their news, and the surprising place they spend much of their time. To know who is coming is to know what is coming, as far as it can possibly be known. Forewarned is forearmed, as they saying goes.

So, with that in mind, here are the three important differences between millennials and Gen Z’s.

Gen Z’s want to be entrepreneurs, not employees.

According to a 2014 study of 4,769 students by Gen Y research firm, Millennial Branding, a whopping 61 per cent of high school goers would rather strike it out own on their own after finishing college instead of joining a company. This is compared to 41% of college students - still a large number, to be sure, but the trend towards the individual as a magnate is clearly on the up.

Corporate roles are becoming fast becoming a last resort, says thought leader and strategist, Crystal Kadakia, ‘Many employers misunderstand or dismiss this trend. They think we’re looking for an easy way out. We’re lazy. We’re entitled...we’re naive. One day we’ll wake up and realise we have to clock in and clock out just like everyone else. They’re wrong.’ According to Kadakia, young people are acutely aware of the brevity of life, as well as what kind of experiences are open to those who dare seek them out.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of social media influencers. Millennials may have become Youtubers, Viners, and Instagrammers, but Gen Z’s have grown up with them, meaning that a mogul-like lifestyle has always seemed an option to them. Consider if catering for this new entrepreneurial crowd could elevate, or even save your business.

Millennials are frugal bargain hunters, Gen Z’s are after value.

In 2015, Ernst & Young conducted a study of 1000 adults and 400 adults to understand their attitudes to the retail industry. Among the many interesting conclusions, they learnt that out of the two, millennials are more interested in savings, while Gen Z’s are looking to stretch their money in a different way.

So, while older youths are more willing to sign up for loyalty schemes and shop the sales, teens and young adults are more interested in getting the most for what they put in. This does not necessarily mean they’re after better quality - Gen Z’s want to know what comes with a purchase that ups its inherent worth. Can you offer perks your competitors can’t? How does your company make Gen Z’s feel after, before, or during purchase?

Gen Z’s are selective with what they share and where.

You might remember the first few years of the internet, where email threads were the thing. The time when people forwarded hundreds of mails via their slow modem connections, hoping they might get a chuckle, or a mystical monetary reward for sending a given message on to a number of people in a certain amount of time. Everyone was thriving in the newness of this latest advancement in human connection, testing its boundaries.

Well, what email was to baby boomers, it appears social media is to millennials. That is, they use it without refinement or recourse to audience and platform. They are the younger equivalent of the ‘send on to five people or you’ll be unlucky in love’ email users. Gen Z’s aren’t. They understand that successful sharing on social media means creating content that’s right for that specific platform alone. These make them excellent candidates for marketing roles, provided you manage to wrangle them into an office.

Aléz Odendaal writes graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency specialising in matching career starters with graduate jobs. For everything from marketing internships to graduate jobs Manchester, click here.