Gen-Z is America’s first generation of true ‘digital-natives’.
It’s now widely acknowledged that the consumer habits of millennials have transformed the global marketplace as companies try desperately to keep up with the demands of the first generation whose world is driven by 24-hour contact with technology.
According to a report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), by 2014 millennials in the U.S. already accounted for an estimated $1.3 trillion in direct annual spending, and they are only now reaching peak buying power. The study also highlights the uniquely personal and emotional way millennials connect with brands via their intense use of social and other digital media.
Nevertheless, time moves quickly. According to analysts at Goldman Sachs, America’s youngest generation, “Gen-Z” (those born after 1998), are now entering their formative years and are poised to cause another seismic shift in consumption.
At nearly 70 million strong in the U.S. alone, the oldest of which are now entering college or the workforce, Gen-Z will soon outnumber millennials as the movers and shakers of the future.
“Born device-in-hand, Gen-Z is America’s first generation of true ‘digital-natives’ and they will be America’s most diverse to-date (first to be majority non-white),” Goldman Sachs states.
“Over the past several years, educators […] and the like have spent significant time and resources dissecting the Millennial mindset. But the time has already come to focus on Gen-Z, which promises to be just as, if not more, influential.”
Key characteristics that are likely to define Gen-Z will be ethnic diversity (owing to a 50% increase in the population of multiracial youth over the past ten years), familiarity with technology (the average member of Gen-Z is connected to the Internet for up to 10 hours per day), a strong entrepreneurial spirit (according to a recent survey by Harvard Business Review), and perhaps most interestingly, a worldview that is decidedly more socially and politically conservative than that of millennials.
It remains to be seen what influence Gen-Z will have on markets and the wider world we live in, yet we will find out soon enough. With the oldest millennials now 35 years of age, this generation is increasingly taking leadership roles within organizations and will very soon be the mentors to Gen Z. Will this relationship prove frutiful? Only time will tell.