The oldest members of "Generation Z" (aka Gen Z-ers) are turning 19 and they're hitting the workforce and influencing purchasing decisions. And like the generations that precede them, Gen Z-ers promise to bring yet another mindset to your small business -- whether as employees or customers.
Even if you aren't hiring or marketing to them yet, you soon will be. Gleaned from emerging research from a variety of sources, including research performed and complied by 360i, here are five things to know -- and to harness- regarding Gen-Z.
1. Diversity brings a limitless viewpoint.
Gen-Z's size and composition brings a unique point of view. Gen-Z is very large, representing around 25 percent of the population, with more than a third identifying as Hispanic, Asian or African-American. Additionally, as this diverse group was literally born into a digital world, Gen-Z-ers are as connected with people across the globe as they are with their real-life neighbors.
Your business can benefit greatly by employees who make no distinction in terms of people and between real and online life. Their lack of boundaries creates viewpoints and ideas that may be very different from your own. But, a new perspective can reveal options that can help your business to grow in unimaginable ways.
It is also crucial to put yourself in their shoes when marketing to them, in order to capture their attention in an authentic way.
Related: Are You Ready for Gen Z?
2. An entrepreneurial spirit is the norm.
Gen-Z will keep entrepreneurship alive. According to 360i research, about 75 percent of Gen Z-ers hope to turn their current hobbies into full-time jobs and 72 percent of Gen-Z high-schoolers want to start a business someday. Squelch their voices and ideas, and they'll quit in a heartbeat. Give them opportunities to be intrapreneurs however, and they'll use their aspirations to make your company grow, instead.
As you seek to hire Gen-Z, foster their initiative toward your business, rather than forcing them out on their own to feed their personal needs and spirit. Seeing themselves as integral parts of the company mission, they'll untiringly focus their minds toward the mission. Don't be surprised if they flood you with suggestions for revenue generation, potential cost-cutting measures and efficiencies, or any other focus you share with them.
You can also take advantage of their mindset in marketing by realizing that they are entrepreneurial today and many will likely be in the future. So, don't leave them out of your brainstorming and approach to marketing and advertising.
3. Their creativity is virtually boundless.
Gen-Z's entrepreneurial spirit is melded with a creative one. Research shows that 25 percent of Gen Z-ers share an original video at least once every week. These creative people need to use their talents to experience true job satisfaction.
When you encourage that creativity, you help your business prosper. Whether those videos would directly benefit a stale marketing campaign, or if they envision product design changes that would better appeal to Gen Z or international customers, pay attention. Your natural inclination is probably to resist ideas that don't match your personal beliefs, but open your mind. A lack of boundaries may be just what your business needs to stay in tune with a changing world.
4. They are more tech-savvy than prior generations.
Gen Z is a generation growing up alongside technology and they use the digital world like boomers used pencil and paper in their heyday.
Count on a minimal learning curve for your Gen Z-ers -- and expect them to suggest ways to use the newest apps to benefit your business. They are a great source of finding ways to leverage technology to help streamline operations.
It also means that to market to them, you need to be able to reach them online and with visual methods. This generation lives and dies by emojis, swipes and Instagram images, so communicate as graphically as possible. You can't get rid of words entirely, but at least keep written messages pithy.
5. They have a well-developed social conscience.
360i's research shows that around 26 percent of 16 to 19-year olds are volunteers and 60 percent want jobs where they can impact the world. Their need for social relevance has a notable effect on their self-esteem, but it can have a profoundly positive impact on your business, as well.
Gen Z-ers are prone to volunteer and donate, but they welcome all forms of corporate social responsibility. They are often attracted to companies with want-ads that point out the use of local products or engagement in philanthropic activities. Point it out in your marketing campaign as well, and you'll attract more customers, too.
No generation is an island.
It seems clear that Generation Z will bring some highly beneficial traits to your business. But, don't expect every 19-year old who joins your company or buys your product to match this precise profile. Still, your awareness of those traits helps you spot them when you see them and make the most of them.