Hess Associates

Who or What is Generation Z?

According to Statistics Canada, people born between 1993 and 2011 fall into this group, which represents 22% of the Canadian and 25% of the US population respectively. Other groups, e.g. in Australia, assign a similar but slightly narrower range – those born between 1995 and 2009.

Interestingly, many of these are children (5 to 23 years old), compared to the Millenials, most of whom are now in their 20s or 30s, depending on the whether you favour Statscan’s range (1972 to 1993) or that preferred by market research companies (1980 to the mid-90s).

So what is special about this postmillennial young cohort?

1. They are totally at home with the internet, mobile devices, media channels, and apps, as they have been exposed to an unprecedented amount of technology in their upbringing.
Receiving a phone at the age of 11, 12, or 13 seems almost to be a rite of passage.
They text as well or better than they speak, using acronyms, abbreviations, non-sentences, and emoticons.

2. They do, of course, want things immediately, surf on several channels at once, are excellent about finding free downloads, and know or learn how to do everything, courtesy of YouTube.

3. They actually derive a lot a real learning from clever, content-rich video games, so many of these kids are unbelievably informed on, say, world history, unrelated to anything they have learned at school.

4. They have mastered finding free on-line courses for language, programming, math, etc.
with knowledge literally at their fingertips, and take its’ accessibility for granted. Similarly, their formal schooling now is heavily technology-oriented. It is also quite commonplace for teachers of even young children to post their assignments, homework, etc. on line.

5. Coming along after 9/11 and the recessions of 2000 and 2008, they are very realistic, eyes open, and a bit wary of the future. There is also an understanding that success lies in a college education, but they do feel that job availability will be positive. They tend to be naturally entrepreneurial, and are very brand aware, due to advertisers’ excellent, focused marketing campaigns. Many of them plan to start their own companies.

6. They are also much more aware of privacy issues, ranging from information on sites such as Facebook and Instagram to the use of drones. Even very young children actually worry about drones invading their personal space.

7. The majority take issues such as same-sex marriage and multi-ethnicity for granted, as they did not live through all the years when this was not the case.

They will be interesting to watch, and are lots of fun and inspiring to be with.

Marketers catching up with Generation Z, Globe and Mail Dec 13, 2015

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