Image: Generation Z looks to be among the most motivated groups of young people. Image source.
In the wake of one of the most studied generations of all time, Millennials, we now have Generation Z — whose members currently range in age from 5 to 20. Many of those members are still yet to enter primary school, but the oldest among them have now begun to flood into universities and commence their careers. So while it is impossible to draw definitive conclusions about what their habits, lifestyles and worldviews will be, then, some prominent trends have already begun to emerge. And they might surprise you.
According to Fast Company, Generation Z is shaping up to be quite a frugal, brand-wary and determined group of individuals. Much of which probably has to do with the fact that they have grown up throughout the great recession. Fast Company uses the example of 19-year-old Maya Makino, who has just started her sophomore year at the University of Puget Sound in America. Makino was 10 years old when the recession hit, which meant that she was old enough to be aware of what was going on, which has shaped her feelings about higher education.
“There’s a lot of stress about finding a job after college and being able to support yourself,” Makino says. “My friends and I are really focused on finishing up in four years and having a good career path. There’s less time for reflection because there’s that worry about whether you’re going to be able to survive in the economy if you’re not really directed.” What’s important to note here is that Generation Z has grown up in a starkly different historical context to Millennials. The latter helped elect a black president and legalise gay marriage (in the US at least), while many generation Zers regard those milestones as the norm. Millennials also came of age during a time of economic expansion and were thus shocked to find a diminished, unwelcoming job market after college. Generation Z, on the other hand, has been shaped by the recession and is prepared to fight hard in order to create a stable future for themselves.
Aside from just job motivation, these disparities play out in a number of other ways. For example, Generation Z is very wary of big brands. “Compared to any generation that has come before, they are less trusting of brands,” says Emerson Spartz, CEO of the digital media company Dose. “They have the strongest bullshit filter because they’ve grown up in an era where information was available at all times.” Spartz puts this down, in part, to the fact that they have grown up amid the Occupy Wall Street movement and that “some of the anti-establishment sentiment has penetrated this generation”. Where Millennials are brand-conscious, then, Generation Z isn’t so fussed about wearing brand-name clothing and is also spending less than their predecessors.
Their frugality isn’t just in relation to big brands, though. Cautioned by tales of how many millennials ended up living at home after college, sitting on a mountain of debt, Generation Zers are generally spending their money differently. For instance, a survey by Lincoln Financial Group of 400 members of generation Z aged 15 to 19 found that they are saving much earlier than older generations: “60% of them already have savings accounts and 71% say they are focused on saving for the future. Their top three priorities are getting a job, finishing college, and safeguarding money for the years to come. They rate these goals above spending time with friends and family, working out, or traveling.”
The way they approach work is different, too. In contrast to the highly collaborative nature of Millennials, Generation Z is being described as an independent and competitive generation. “But even though they see the workplace as a battlefield, they are inclusive and tolerant of difference,” says 17-year-old Jonah Stillman — co-author of a book called GenZ@Work, on how his generation will fare as members of the workforce. Perhaps this isn’t so surprising, given the fact that Millennials were Internet pioneers and have thus witnessed a great many transitions; from Foxtel to Netflix, for example, or a non-Facebook world to a one in which it has become all-consuming. For Generation Z, these are simply the basics of 21st century life, so the need to develop similarly collaborative ventures isn’t top priority. In short, then, the more we learn about Generation Z, the further away they seem from their Millennial predecessors.
Via Fast Company
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