We’ve talked about millennials for nearly 20 years. Now, it’s time to start thinking about what or really who is next. Gen Z is stepping into the spotlight. Today, they represent 28 percent of the U.S. population (according to Iconoculture) and that number is growing rapidly: In four years, it will be a staggering 40 percent. Savvy brands are closely watching the way this group operates because soon — very soon — Gen Z will be highly influential in how we all behave and consume.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll continue to share some key insights about this growing generation and how they’re disrupting everything that came before them. Welcome to Week Three, Part Three. For Part One, an introduction to Gen Z, click here. For Part Two, digging into Gen Z’s spending power, click here.
PART THREE: TRUE TRAILBLAZERS; GEN Z IS INDEPENDENT AND ENTREPRENEURIAL AT HEART
A few years ago, having a YouTube channel was not a career. My, how things have changed! Gen Z has grown up seeing a legion of stars emerge from the internet and social media, and views that not as an anomaly but as a legitimate future profession. They see that they can create whatever kind of career they want with the help of their peers and social digital channels, whether they want to start a business or produce music.
Zs have taken this message to heart and learned to be self-starters, itching to make an impact, a change and a name for themselves. Because they grew up in a time of economic uncertainty, they know how to be resourceful and self-motivated outside of the traditional structure. They view entrepreneurship as a way of not having to rely on anyone (or anything) else.
While nearly a third of millennials still live with their parents, Gen Zers are growing up in a healthier economy and appear eager to be cut loose. They don’t wait for their parents to teach them things or tell them how to make decisions. Instead, they are out in the world, curious and driven, investigating how to obtain relevant professional experience before college.
In fact, they would rather forsake the corporate grind to build their own startups. According to Upfront Analytics, 61 percent would rather be an entrepreneur than an employee when they graduate and 76 percent want to turn their hobbies into a business.
For Gen Z, it’s all about testing the waters — starting a company, creating a product — but NOT waiting for permission, the right skill set, an academic degree or even years of work experience. It’s an age of DIY education, crowdsourcing and life hacks.
Gen Zers don’t see a linear path to their dreams. They embrace the idea of entrepreneurship with open arms, and they’ll ideate, create and disrupt like hell to get there.
Next time, we’ll talk about how Gen Z straddles the digital and physical worlds.
A bit of background on the author, Heather Scott:
What I do:
I read a room. I understand behavior. I process human nature, culture and values. More importantly, I don’t put relationships or brands first, I put people first. If programs that are based on insights, trends and strategies are your things, then I’m your gal. I’m a planner, not a Day Runner.
Why it’s important:
Do you believe in magic? Because a great idea is just a great idea. A strategy by itself doesn’t leave a lasting imprint. Insights and trends are fascinating, but not much more on their own. The integration of all three is where the magic happens.
The coolest thing I’ve done:
At Indiana University, I was the all-campus backgammon champion.