Up until recently, everyone seemed to be having a hard time distinguishing Millennials from Generation Z. Because of this, insiders were okay conflating the latter’s stereotypes with the former’s. However, an increasing list of segmentation reports is beginning to suggest a stark contrast between the two.
According to a new study from EY, our youngest generation expresses some of the biggest distinctions from their predecessors when it comes to how they take in and disseminate information. More so than any other generation Gen Zers are determined to use digital resources to avoid mimicking the missteps of their elders.
“Millennials are known for using social media to share their world with the world, often an idealized version of their actual life, choosing their real-life experiences based on social share-worthiness,” writes Marcie Merriman, EY’s Americas Cultural Insights & Customer Strategy Leader. “Our research suggests that Gen Z is establishing a new norm for social media use right under our noses, resetting the standard all generations will adopt. Increasingly, Gen Z is using social media as a communication tool — a way to stay connected with the people and things that are important to them. ”
In order to capitalize on the key ideals of talented young candidates, Merriman recommends employers keep her four takeaways in mind during the recruitment process:
- Gen Z is driven by individualization
- Gen Z are used to instant access and are motivated by efficiency
- Transparency is the first step in establishing strong bonds with Gen Z, regardless of segment.
- Employers need to learn the importance of fostering an environment that embraces collaboration and inclusiveness beyond how it is understood today.
“Entrepreneurial, independent and future-focused, sometimes to the point of causing them stress,”
There is actually a fair bit of daylight between Gen Zers and older generations as far as technology is concerned.
Like Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, the vast majority of Generation Zers (80%) only use social media to connect with friends, co-workers and family members and stray away from posting intimate details about their lives online.
Similarly to the way emails and faxes were employed as networking, marketing and communication tools by previous generations—Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram appears to supply a comparable function for Gen Zers. Priorities might also be playing a role in reshaping the value of social media.
The internet has never been more primed for polarization than it is now. As the election season ramps up this will only intensify. A modest 20% of the Gen Zers polled in EY’s new survey described themselves as either very or extremely interested in political issues. Although this number increases when you swap politics for environmentalism, younger users are still less likely to post their views online.
The most encouraging part of EY’s study highlights a youthful pragmatism that recent reports have celebrated in the past. Even though far less Gen Zers are “very-interested” in politics, 74% of 18-22-year-olds intend on voting this election season and 81% of 12 to 17-year-olds intend on voting as soon as they turn 18.
Merriman locates the birth of Gen Z’s practicality among turbulent times. The housing crises of 2008 likely inspired a wave of financial literacy, an era of hypocritical censure underscored the importance of self-government and following a generation branded as vapid disingenuous gadflies might have warned against a certain style of activism.
Merriman tallies these factors by way of five labels that best define generation Z “Stressed Strivers,” Big Plans, Low Energy, Authentic Activists,” “Carefree Constituents,” and “Secluded Perfectionists.”
“They place importance on spending time on things that will help them in the future, believe in being independent and figuring things out on their own and favor earning what they get rather than having it handed to them. They are also keenly interested in environmental issues, Merriman continued. “While Gen Z may not have yet reached critical mass as customers or employees, as representatives of today’s youth culture Gen Z is already disproportionately driving changes the rest of us feel. “