No clue. That was the impression I had two years ago as a student of some companies’ understanding of us, the young generation. The ones who will be their future employees, their future clients, basically the future society. After several discussions with “employer brand managers” or “marketing strategists” I decided to act upon my findings as a bachelor student. It was the start of my journey to help companies understand the importance of the next generation.

Our world is changing and moving forward. Sometimes faster, sometimes slower, sometimes at a revolutionary speed. This implies that the behavior of mankind is changing – all the time. As Harari beautifully states in his impressive book “Sapiens”: “The only characteristics of which we can be certain is the incessant change.

[…] Hence any attempt to define the characteristics of modern society is akin to defining the color of a chameleon.”[1]. So, if you now expect to read stereotypes like “lazy, ungrateful and only listening to primitive Electronic Dance Music” or “which single social media strategy you need to apply to successfully reach the Gen Z”, I need to disappoint you. In my opinion it is much more important to get a broader perspective of this next generation. The fact, that a new generation has different interests, is nothing new, but possibilities of today’s youth are. In my research[2] I realized that there are some distinctive macro tendencies of desires the young generation brings to the table when it comes to interaction with brands, employers or information.

Instant. Flexibility. Clarity. These are three design principles for whatever interaction you’re leading between your business and Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2010). To every organization I propose starting here. Instant stands for immediacy. Gen Z wants their information, their feedback or their communication tools working instantly. Make it as easy, quick and intuitive as possible. According to Think with Google[3] an average loading time of more than three seconds per page makes 40% of the regular mobile customers leave the webpage. If you narrow it down to Gen Z only, the percentage is probably higher, because all they know is fast internet. Gen Z’s patience in their daily life can not be expected anymore compared to Gen Y and especially to Gen X. Secondly, flexibility. Lifestyles of young people get increasingly independent and flexible by the virtue of new possibilities through technology. Offering flexibility of work hours, place and style is an area in which companies need to innovate towards new models with more flexibility, however with clearer goals and measurements as well.

Thirdly, clarity. If you have a message or an offer for young customers, make it as clear and short as possible. Living in an information overloaded world, attention is spent more selectively. The more you understand about the customer journey of your young target group, the more you know how to leverage certain moments to grab their interest.

To get ready for the future generation, these three principles are a good starting point. Now, you need to dig deeper and interact with young people. Just because your traditional marketing has worked for a long time doesn’t mean your future client will hop on your offer, too. Their attention might have been grabbed at an earlier stage and you never pop up on the youth’s radar. So, buckle up, put Gen Z on your strategic agenda and be ready for a generation, who’s change rate of interests and attention is wild, but important to follow.

[1] Harari, Yuval N., Sapiens, 2011, S.409.

[2] Focusgroups, Interviews, Bachelor thesis, desk research

[3] Think with Google, 2016: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-gb/advertising-channels/mobile/mobile-page-speed-load-time/


This article has been written and released for Swiss Entrepreneurs Magazine (March & April 2018 issue): https://swissentrepreneursmagazine.ch/sem/