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Introducing Generation Z

NextThought team — October 31, 2018


You may still feel like you’re getting used to millennials, but Gen Zers are already entering the workforce and impacting the economy. 

Gen Z

It’s estimated that Gen Z will boast 2.5 billion people by 2020 and will comprise 40% of all consumers. And where does Gen Z do most of their learning, buying, and socializing? Online (Extole).

Are you prepared to engage with, hire, and market to Generation Z? Be a step ahead of the game and know what to expect from the post-millennial generation.

Who is Gen Z?

Age: Debate persists about their exact age range, but the general consensus is that Gen Zers were born in the mid-1990s to early-2000s (Forbes, TIME).

Diverse Population: Gen Z will be the first generation in which the majority “will belong to a minority race or ethnic group” (Goldman-Sachs & U.S. Census Bureau). Generation Z is diverse, and this attribute has made them tolerant of other cultures and comfortable with a global community.

Education: Gen Zers have grown up in the wake of the Great Recession. This trial has made them wary of accumulating debt and pragmatic about job opportunities. With the rise of college tuition and the difficulty of the job market, this generation is not convinced that college is the best or only path to success. Many of their millennial friends and older siblings have accumulated enormous student loan debt “for four-year degrees that have earned them meager entry-level wages,” forcing them to move back home (Forbes, Pew Research Center).

Consequently, Gen Zers are questioning the value of a college degree, and they’re open to alternative education. This presents an exciting opportunity for associations who have established eLearning programs, or who are planning to provide eLearning offerings. Extole estimates that the eLearning market will reach a global value of $325 billion by 2025, and that the eLearning market “will be worth over 4x the $70.6 billion higher education market.”

Attention Span: Gen Zers grew up in a world of streaming and fast download time. They never knew dial-up; they have only known high-speed connectivity and Wi-Fi. They expect dynamic content that will maintain their attention, or they will move onto something else. High-speed internet and an infinite stream of information and entertainment have given them the shortest attention span of any generation. However, this training means that they can also process information more quickly than their predecessors. Gen Zers are experts at vetting whether something is worth their time or not.

Influencers: To learn what is worthwhile, they look to individuals who have established themselves as credible sources through YouTube, Reddit, online reviews, podcasts, etc. Traditional media gatekeepers have been bypassed because anyone can broadcast themselves online, create a personal brand, or generate a following. This reality has an immediate application: Gen Zers rely heavily on video reviews and word-of-mouth to make purchases and decide what causes to join. These influencers shape the culture and the economy.

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What does Gen Z have to offer?

Digital, Mobile Natives: Gen Zers are often referred to as “digital natives” because they have grown up on the internet. They are the first generation to only know life with the internet. Additionally, many of them cannot remember a time before smartphones. They are always online, and they “expect their workflows to be entirely available on a mobile platform” (Forbes).Their lives on the internet have made them accustomed to an international community through online gaming, forums, Reddit, and social media. Distance is not a barrier for them. Gen Zers will feel totally at ease working with colleagues who are off-site or on the other side of the world, and they will also feel comfortable working remotely to get things done. These digital natives will certainly look to eLearning for online courses and continuing education. Only time will tell, but this generation could be the biggest market yet for online education.

Diversity: Gen Z’s global upbringing and racial diversity gives them a broad appreciation of multiculturalism and inclusivity. In 2016, a Pew Research Center survey found that 85% of working adults believed an “ability to work with those from diverse backgrounds” would be “very important” or “extremely important.” This cosmopolitan mindset makes Gen Zers valuable for workplaces, benefitting associations who seek to expand in a world that increasingly seeks connection and global opportunity.

How should I prepare for Gen Z?

Here are some action steps:

  1. Meet Gen Zers and learn what they’re passionate about.
  2. Demonstrate that you can offer the education and skills necessary to develop meaningful careers.
  3. Update your web presence to a modern user design and interface.
  4. Maintain a presence on the major social media outlets.
  5. Produce short, dynamic videos to communicate your message.

While cultural and economic factors shape each generation, you will find that Gen Zers are similar to young people in any generation. Gen Zers are establishing themselves as individuals, learning teamwork, and becoming professionals. They want to make a difference, they want to earn a livelihood, and they are trying to find their place in the world. Help them find a place in your association!

Associations Can Structure Online Learning for Millennial

Additional Reading

Pew Research Center - "The State of American Jobs"

Forbes - "How To Influence Generation Z Through Education"

Inc - "5 Things Brands Can Do to Attract Generation Z (as Consumers and Potential Employees)"

NextThought team
NextThought team

Our mission... To constantly explore innovative ways to rethink education. We engage learners, build community, and deliver value. We will always go above and beyond standard learning solutions, providing perfectly-tailored educational experiences for our clients and their audiences.

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