As a Millennial on the fringes of digital nativism, arrogantly I never thought that I would feel the alienation of technological progress like my parents must have felt with iPods and Facebook (although to my abhorrence they’ve recently jumped on the bandwagon). I am happy to say that our work experience student Archie fervently disavowed this last month. To ensure our understanding of the next generation of consumers (40% by 2020), we asked him to educate us on his generation (Z).
A product of their times
Born 1996-2001, it is generation that has never known a world without Facebook, a black US President or war in the Middle East. Many will grow up not knowing what it’s like to own a house and to be student debt free. In some ways, they are an extreme version of Millennials; impatient, educated, career-driven, social-media hungry, brand-savvy, globalized citizens but in other ways they are the opposite, more conservative – drinking, smoking and drug taking are all in free-fall (embarrassed no doubt of their middle-age boozing parents).
They are in part a reaction against Baby Boomers’ profligacy, the most iconoclastic, self-absorbed and grandiose generation in history. For the first time in history, Generation Z will have it tougher than their parents. As a result, they are more mature, cautious, in control and yearning for a good education and careers.
Internet is my basic right
This generation hasn’t yet matured into fully-fledged consumers and, still nested under parental wings, don’t have the disposable income to spend frivolously on what they want. Without a sense of fatality to make them think about a healthy lifestyle that comes with age, their obsessions lie in cheap and indulgence-led food and drink, clothing and technology. Music streaming has seemingly climbed up near Internet in Maslow’s hierarchy of need – in a study by JWT, 90% would be upset if they had to give up their Internet connection and 56% downloading music.
Natural born entrepreneurs
These future-consumers are also incredibly entrepreneurial. In a study byMillennial Branding, 72% of Gen Z in the US want to start a business someday and 3% already have one (Gallup). Unsurprising, therefore, that Archie came to Piper intent on harvesting our thoughts on starting an ecommerce-driven gadgets retailer. The world to him seems smaller than ever, unfazed at buying in China and selling all across Europe.
Clandestine entrepreneurship is already rife in this generation. Archie told us about how lots of his friends are already buying and selling on Amazon, eBay, Instagram and Depop (mobile social shopping app). Depop is the place to buy extortionately priced trendy brands at slightly less extortionate prices and plugs into the 55% of Generation Z who say that they would rather buy clothes online (JWT).
A few months ago, I walked past the Supreme (NY skater brand) store in Soho perplexed at the winding hipster queue at 11am – for some, queuing up for hours to buy up racks of Supreme to sell on Depop has become a tidy profit-generating hobby. Snapchat (63% of its 100,000+ daily active users are 13-34) and Instagram are the clear winners for those wanting to popularise their grassroots trading business, using it to post product images and lifestyle shots.
It is fascinating and heartening to see that, despite the economic uncertainty, Archie and others of his age feel that they have the skills to be entrepreneurs themselves. Having witnessed a boom in individuals creating brands from scratch on social media, they want to start businesses that reflect their life interests (76% wish their hobby would turn into a full-time job versus 50% of Millennials, CAA) and, most encouragingly, to have a positive impact on the world (60% versus 39% of Millennials).
At Piper, we see a lot of Millennial entrepreneurs building fantastic businesses, we look forward to meeting our first Generation Z entrepreneur creating brands that reflect their generational sensibilities.