If you think that Generation Y demands are shaking up the way we view the world, just wait until Generation Z hits the marketplace in force. Born around the turn of the century this generation has already widely been recognised as the most diverse, technologically savvy generation we have ever seen. Numbering just over 1.87 billion, in many societies Generation Z is multi-racial and globally switched on. In fact for them, global is their backyard and this means that in their search for identity they are far more likely to embrace products and services, which they can identify as having a personal or local meaning.
Thanks to Generation Z, the idea of hyperlocal is entering the marketplace and this idea of providing a local slant to a global product will only grow in as Generation Z come into their own. In fact, according to a Cultural Intelligence report from pluralthinking, this rise in hyperlocalism has already seen McDonalds offering country specific products such as Ebi Shrimp in Japan whilst at the 2014 World Cup Brazilians turned out in force wearing locally made products.
Previous generations grew up without access to computers or learnt their trade with slow dial-up as the only option but Generation Z inhabitants have never known a time without fast access to broadband. According to an Ofcom report in August 2014, 6 year olds have the same digital understanding as 45 year olds and those aged 14 & 15 are way out in front when it comes to digital quotient scores. These are the young people for whom 94% of their communication time is spent in social networking or instant communications at the expense of e-mail (2%) and voice calls (3%). These are the always on, connected, multi-tasking generation whose attention span may be just 8 seconds but who also pack so much into those 8 seconds that they put earlier generations to shame.
There is a great quote from boxer mike Tyson to the effect that;
“everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”
The crash which was, to some extent, kicked off by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 was that punch in the face. Since then survival has been the name of the game but now the survivors have emerged blinking into the light of a completely new day. And that dawn heralds the rise of Generation Z.
Over the next ten years as this generation matures it will transform the business landscape. Out goes unthinking acceptance and passivity and in comes ownership and interaction. As pluralthinking says;
“Gen Z have never been passive recipients of brand messages, users of products or choosers of ideas. They expect to be involved in a brand’s creation and destiny.”
If you take sports shoes as an example, we’ve been through the ‘white plimsoll’ generation, moved on into ‘brand loyalty’ and have now reached the time in which we can go on line and design our own individual colour and style.
Responding to this new generation requires organisations to adapt to an innovative and agile methodology. Social media is not just an adjunct to marketing it is now an intrinsic part of the product itself. Selling is now less about the product and more about the experience. In a world in which interconnectedness is taken for granted, those seeking to stand out have to offer original experiences, which bring a sense of ownership to the user.
Transforming the organisation to meet these new challenges won’t be easy. Innovation is the name of the game but if those looking to innovate tend to be of a single generation or background then understanding and meeting the challenges of Generation Z can be counter-intuitive. So not only is pure innovation the name of the game, so too is collaboration alongside a move towards open innovation in which customers and other stakeholders all have a part to play. In fact, research from Kellogg revealed that diverse groups outperformed more homogeneous groups not because of an influx of new ideas, but because diversity triggered more careful information processing that is absent in homogeneous groups.
The business world has had its punch in the face which sent the old plan flying out of the window. Open innovation, diversity and fast product development allied to a focus on customer experiences is the new plan and there are nearly 2 billion reasons why it will be driven to succeed. If you want to find out more about responding to the Generation Z innovation challenge by becoming a ‘Next Generation Organisation’ perhaps it’s time you got in touch.
Feel free to email Cris at email@example.com or browse the website for more information on how Cris and his team help some of the worlds smartest companies succeed through innovation.