Now, more than ever, all generations are embracing each other’s unique characteristics and traits, and, for the older generations, youth culture is starting to become a major influence.
In fact, youth itself will become a state of mind as virtual reality and online information gathering grow as the new means of creative expression and self-identity.
I think by now we all “get” the millennial generation as we see many of their specific tendencies infiltrating how we behave and feel.
It’s time now to start paying attention to Generation Z, those born between the mid-90s through to the mid-2000s — the younger siblings of the millennials. According to Forbes, Gen-Zers – also called iGeneration and Founders — will make up 40% of consumers by 2020 and are now just coming into the work force. They are smarter than baby boomers and more ambitious than millennials.
Here are the unique traits that we, as meeting and event professionals, need to learn about Generation Z:
- They are not influenced by limitation – they simply don’t believe in it. They are entrepreneurial by nature. Combined with their creative spirit, they will redefine the workplace as we know it. They’re all about a virtual lifestyle so they will automatically expect to be able to meet in virtuality and to do so seamlessly. If there was ever a time to get into the business of virtual reality meeting planning, it’s now!
- They value authenticity. Fact-checking is second nature to them. Therefore, we must understand that transparency is always the best policy when it comes to Gen Z.
- They want to to experience the world through their peers’ eyes. Gen Z’s global interactions and the thoughts they share through social media have created a unique commonality between them and their international counterparts – more so than with those living in their own country! There is another trend called “Kinship” that’s waiting in the wings that will incorporate this concept of world and world relationships. If we can provide event participants with AUTHENTIC ways to experience how people in other parts of the world live (be it through food, environment, activities, presenters, virtual reality or other), we will hit the mark with this trend, not just for Gen Z but for all attendees.
- They do not know a world without technology, meaning that we only have eight seconds to grab their attention (the length of a sound bite). As they multi-task between their laptops, mobile devices, television, fitness trackers and gaming consoles, appealing to Gen Z has to be immediate — as easy and as fast as snapping a finger. Oh, and they also get a kick out of things they consider to be retro (like the 2000s!).
- They are a socially “woke” generation with deeply held values and a mission to positively change the world any way they can, including through ethical and fair-trade consumerism and eco-friendly practices. Cause-driven events and corporate social responsibility programs strike a chord with this demographic.
- They expect events and information to be accessible across all mediums. If they can’t access what we’re doing from their mobile devices or gaming consoles, for example, they simply won’t bother. Events that are on ALL social media platforms show the Gen Z participant that we want to interact with them and we aren’t afraid to be transparent.