Generation Z and the Future of Business
The World Government Summit in Dubai always leaves its attendees and viewers with a gratified, inspirational understanding of what governments and businesses across the globe are doing to improve the lives of citizens everywhere. This year, as the Raising Awareness and Human Social 2.0 panel wrapped up, there was one undeniable takeaway: the voice of Millennials and Generation Zers are forcing governments and businesses across the globe to change how they operate. Through the panel, featuring top entrepreneurs and executives Renato Libric, Rana Gujral and Ryan Patel, we learned that the traditional methods of operating a business has been flipped on its head and now requires much more thought and consideration.
What has changed?
The times have changed from when a company could focus solely on making as much capital as possible without having to worry about their global outreach and opinions. Now, an organization’s stance on what they believe in, as well as their own goodwill in the world, are equal, if not more valuable, than the products they produce. This new wave of pressure to "do good" came about because of the advent of social media, empowering millennials and Gen Zers.
The panel moderator (Melissa Jun Rowley) touched on how millennials and Gen Zs are digital natives who have quickly realized, not only the power that they hold, but how to use it. “They collaborate with people on the other side of the planet” and are more “socially aware than any generation ever has been.” Thus, making them a very forceful consumer.
How does this change impact businesses?
As Ryan Patel (board of director at American Red Cross LA, former VP of global development at Pinkberry) noted, “companies can no longer just be okay with, ‘we made enough money, now let’s do something good’ It has to be engrained in their DNA.” Because if it’s not and if a consumer sees something they don’t like, they’re going to let the brand know directly.
Patel also expanded on this thought, stating that it’s vital for companies to now be engaged with their consumers. “It’s no longer okay to write a check for companies. Just like it’s no longer [okay] for governments to say “we’re doing something.”... Consumers, Millennials and Gen Z can look you up and see what are you doing to make an impact. We must be transparent.”
One of the biggest changes in this new consumer behavior is if they like what a brand stands up for, they want to get behind it.
Renato Libric (CEO Bouxtie Inc.) explained how just last year, his company Bouxtie Inc., went viral after a devastating Florida hurricane. Bouxtie had changed the gift card industry, eliminating the plastic card and allowing people to send gift cards digitally. Libric noted, “Victims of the hurricane were posting videos of the flood damage they had suffered online and people from all over the globe saw a cause, began communicating with them peer-to-peer, and then used Bouxtie, which prides itself on being transparent, to send digital gift cards for places they can buy what they need, to try to make a difference and get these people back on their feet.”
Renato also explained that Millennials and Gen Zers are more interested in experiences than putting their money into an actual, physical product. He stated that today’s younger generations will spend, “five to seven days [discussing online] with friends [which company] has the best outreach.”
Renato gave an example of how consumers today would be more apt to ignore a new Nike ad and instead buy a new pair of shoes from a company who will turn around and help those in need in Africa. It’s this behavior that is clearly changing the playing field for all companies, new and old.
How does this change impact governments?
This altering trend pushed upon companies by Millennials and Gen Zers also pertains to governments. As Rana Gujral (entrepreneur, HACK Temple) said, government’s, “have to satisfy what an audience is looking for.”
“For governments, if they want to get elected and they want to stay relevant, they have to speak to their audience.” This is due to the fact that, if they don’t speak to their audience directly, that audience will move on. Gujral noted that millennial and Gen Zers are very, “in-tune with themselves and really believe they can make a change.” Naturally, they want to see someone in government, “who is speaking from their heart.” If they don’t, they will be vocal about it until they get what they want.
Millennial and Gen Zers should be proud of themselves. They were handed a medium (social media) in which they could do what they wanted with it and they turned around and have begun changing how the most powerful people in the world operate. No matter where your opinion on this topic lies, you do have to admit, enabling a generation to use their voice to push others do good in the world, is never a bad thing.
The World Government Summit is an annual conference featuring more than 100 distinguished speakers from across the planet, focused on creating a dialogue that will shape the future of governments and help improve the lives of citizens everywhere.