Move Over Millennials, There’s a New Gen in Town
We’ve written before about our belief it’s time to let go of the notion there’s a “millennial problem” in the workforce and among customer bases. Odds are, you’ve got a lot of millennials – the oldest of which are pushing 40 – in your middle management these days. They’re the largest generational demographic in the country, and wise employers and marketers have resigned themselves to needing to cater to their wants and whims.
Especially when it comes to technology, millennials have by and large created the world we live in. Their demand for instant, always connected technology has driven many of the offerings managed service providers (MSPs) make money from today. Like it or not, they’re here in force.
If you still haven’t gotten on board with the millennial generation, we’ve got bad news for you. You’re not going to deal well with Generation Z, and they’re coming for your revenue streams. Like, now.
The oldest Gen Zers are only about 22 years old, which means they’re graduating college and moving into the workforce. If you think you’ve got time before you have to worry about Gen Z competition, how to retain Gen Z talent or how to market to the aptly nicknamed “iGeneration,” you’re fooling yourself. Let us hold up the following entrepreneurs that changed the way you do business before they were 20 as reminders:
- Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook
- Matthew Mullenweg: WordPress
- Aaron Levie: Box
- Blake Ross: Mozilla Firefox
The influence of Gen Z can be seen most clearly in changing consumer habits. These days, it’s them whippersnappers that drive many purchasing trends just by asking, “Well, why can’t I just buy this with a click?” Disturbingly, every generation now shockingly has attention spans shorter than a goldfish at about eight seconds, according to a Microsoft study, but Gen Zers are growing up in a world where that isn’t disturbing at all. It’s just normal. You’ve got to catch their attention and give them something to obsess about enough where they’ll research it and follow a hashtag for it.
It won’t be long before Gen Z is both your biggest customer and your biggest competition. If you want to understand how best to market to and position yourself against them (and believe us, you want to. You really want to.), then take a look at their generation’s defining characteristics and apply them to your sales and marketing efforts. And do it fast, friends, because it’s now the the older generations following their lead when it comes to how they shop and sell.
They Pride Themselves on Individuality
From the time they were in diapers, Gen Z has been exposed to a wider range of perspectives, different ways of learning, and more lines of thinking than any generation before them, thanks to the internet. They grew up not wanting to be lost in the noise. Remember, they’re the social media generation, and cultivating a distinct personality is important to them.
You may still not be convinced that analysts, vendors and those annoying media outlets are right about needing to specialize, but you can bet your bottom dollar that Gen Z understands the appeal of niche expertise better than any of us. There are social accounts, YouTube channels, Instagram influencers, online retailers, entertainment outlets and software offerings for niches of niches of niches, and Gen Z knows how to use them to their advantage. They want customized experiences and specialized subject matter expertise, which we know doesn’t just appeal to the young. Boomer and Gen Xer-owned businesses today are looking for that targeted knowledge base, and that trend is only going up from here.
Social Savvy Meets Social Responsibility
We know that millennials are politically involved at much higher levels than Gen Xers or boomers, and they list social impact as one of the deciding factors when choosing an employer or deciding brand loyalty. They want their work to matter, the brands they buy to stand for something and their actions to reflect their ethics.
Because of how we’ve adjusted as marketers and service providers to this trend, Gen Z is growing up in a world where …