Do it right: with Generation Z
10 things you should know about centennials
- ■ Volume 11: May 17, 2018
"A generation is characterized by the events going on in the world during their childhood," says Kate Turkcan, vice president and head of youth insights for Kantar Consulting. For the centennials, as Kantar calls them, those events were the Great Recession, the war on terror and the invention of the iPhone. "People think of this generation as toddlers and children, but the oldest of them are entering college and the workforce," Turkan says. Here are 10 things a dealership should know about Gen Z:
1. These kids pick up a mobile phone before getting out of bed in the morning. "This is the first generation that didn't transition from analog to digital. They have never known a day without the internet," says Jane Cheung, global leader for consumer products at the IBM Institute for Business Value. For centennials, it's not a desktop computer or even a laptop but a mobile phone that is their constant companion. That means it's imperative that your website work on a mobile phone, says Jason Dorsey, president and co-founder of The Center for Generational Kinetics, a research firm. "The digital experience has to be completely seamless," he says. "If it's not, nothing else matters."
2. This is the most diverse generation in history, and they think it's important for brands and businesses to be inclusive and diverse in hiring. By 2019, Turkcan says, this generation will be majority minority; that won't happen to the U.S. as a whole for 25 more years. "They're light years ahead of the rest of the country in their attitudes toward race, gender and sexual identity," she says.
3. They are the most open generation we've seen. "This generation's three core values are openness, realism and resilience," Turkcan says. "They believe everyone is allowed to be different... The one thing they won't tolerate is intolerance."
4. They will have a more flexible idea about getting around. "They are coming of age during the sharing economy," Dorsey says. "For them, an Uber was always available," Dorsey says. "We suspect they will also be most open to leasing and to using vehicles as they need one."
5. Their grandparents' coming-of-age ritual was getting a driver's license on their 16th birthday. Centennial kids don't view it that way and often delay getting a license. Because of their phones, they have the world at their fingertips and don't need to drive somewhere to be with friends. In addition, these overscheduled teens don't have time to squeeze in driver's education classes and are impatient with state graduated-licensing programs.
6. Safety is supremely important. Their parents were the first to equip themselves with devices such as baby monitors and car seats. And these kids grew up surrounded by volatility, uncertainty and ambiguity in terms of world events. As a result, when Kantar asked teenagers what they care about in a vehicle, "The things they listed first were safety, reliability and value for the money," Turkcan says. "The two things at the bottom of the list are prestige and ‘lots of bells and whistles.' "
7. They are realistic and pragmatic. "What surprised us the most in our research was how practical this generation is," Cheung says. They're fiscally conservative–23 percent think personal debt should be avoided at all costs, according to 2017 research by The Center for Generational Kinetics.
8. You'll have to work harder to get them to see ads for your dealership. Not only do they not watch traditional TV or read magazines and newspapers, but they also have a short attention span. "Gen Z is willing to watch ads as long as they find them entertaining," Dorsey says. "But if you don't move them fast, they'll move on." Social media platforms–for the moment, that's Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram–are the places to reach them. And social media influencers including well-known bloggers and internet personalities are more powerful endorsers than celebrities, Dorsey says.
9. As employees, they are going to demand more flexibility than millennials did. A fun work environment and flexible schedule excite them most about a job, according to The Center for Generational Kinetics study.
10. They have an entrepreneurial spirit. In a 2017 study by the IBM Institute for Business Value, one-third of Gen Zers said they already were working for themselves or making money online–as reviewers or bloggers, for instance. "Because they grew up during the recession, Gen Z expects they are going to have to work longer and harder than the Millennials did," Dorsey says.