The generation after the millennials, known as iGen or gen ‘z’, refers to those under age 20 who are now the fastest growing generation to enter the workforce and customer base.
This is a post 9/11 generation with no recollection of a time before the internet, mobile phones or digital dependence.
A 2016 National Study on Technology and the Generation after Millennials designed and led by The Center for Generational Kinetics found that iGen is a more “complex and thoughtful generation” than you would expect.
Their biggest impact will be on how they use technology, think differently about social media, phone usage, online shopping and privacy than any other generation and so, as employers and service providers, we have a lot to learn from them.
Some ways you can be iGen ready:
- Prepare your business for them as consumers: iGen will change shopping forever because they comparison shop on their smartphones, looking for the best deals. They will “truly shift the power from brands, marketers and retailers to the consumer”.
- Attract iGen with virtual reality: this generation will introduce virtual reality into shopping – we are seeing the first glimmer of this already with Pokemon Go.
- Introduce phone etiquette rules for your business. Do not assume iGen feels the same way as you about phone usage. This is a generation who does not think it is rude to use their smartphone at dinner or during a work meeting, even though you most certainly do.
- Understand that social media is everything to them. This generation’s self-esteem and happiness depends on how they come across on social media. They rely on this communication platform for every aspect of their lives from dating to work more than any other generation.
- Expand your social media platforms: Vine, Instagram and Twitter are the platforms that iGen prefer to use but they still do see the value of uncool Facebook! Most are unfamiliar with platforms such as Linkedin and so our industry needs to expand our social media reach.
“Tens of millions of iGen say social media determines their happiness, well-being and self-esteem. This impact will likely only grow as iGen gets older and has more freedom when it comes to their social media experience. In short, if you think social media is important to iGen now, just wait another five years,” said Jason Dorsey, iGen Expert and chief strategy officer The Center for Generational Kinetics.
- Understand that iGen has grown up using and trusting the sharing economy based on peer-to-peer services. Companies such as Uber, Lyft and Airbnb, that use a business model leveraging personal time and underused assets, went from being an innovative business idea to normal business practice in the time that iGen came of age.
- Arguably the first truly diverse and global generation, iGen are able to communicate globally finding jobs and friends. So make sure that you learn from this – do not lag on diversity, inclusion or technology issues or you may lose iGen as workers and customers.
Trying to squeeze iGen into your current business model may not work. Think about ways to make the most of their skills and learn from their demand for constant “start-up” new ideas and ever-present understanding, and openness to new technologies, products and processes.