Connecting With Gen ZEarlier this week, we looked at how to overhaul your marketing strategies for 2013, and talked about Gen Z. In this post, we'll go more in depth to understand the characteristics of Gen Z'ers and how to connect with them in the workplace and online.

Definition of Gen Z

Although definitions vary somewhat, Gen Z is the newest generation, born from the early to mid-1990's. These young people between 11 and 20 years old have been called the millenials, the i-Generation and the digital natives. They were born into a world where mobile devices define social interaction. They only know high-speed internet and they're more comfortable texting and Facebook messaging than using email. They probably won't use that device with a LAN Line if there's a smartphone nearby.

Gen Z Attitudes

Just because they don't prefer face-to-face communication doesn't mean Gen Z has an “I don't care” attitude. In fact, compared to the “me” generation of Gen Y, Gen Z has a very socially responsible take on life. They will want to make a difference in their communities, and will demonstrate that through the choices they make in choosing a career, making purchases and selecting social circles.

How to Manage Gen Z

Chances are, you work with or manage Gen Z in the workplace, or you will within the next 5 years! Whether they're interns or newly hired graduates fresh out of college, you need to understand them in order to motivate and manage them.

Gen Z'ers process information at lightning speed, so they likely will get frustrated with waiting for a management decision to be made. Unlike other generations, Gen Z employees may be perfectly comfortable sending their views directly to the Chief Executive if they do not agree with a particular direction or decision. Also expect to deal with retention issues because the newest generation does not have the same level of committment or loyalty to work for a particular company. They are adaptable to change and constantly out there looking for new challenges.

They generally dislike traditional hierarchical organizations, so it will be interesting to see how they transform into future leaders. They may need more focused training and direction to learn team building skills and resolve conflict using face-to-face communication.

Marketing to Gen Z

When it comes to getting your advertising message out to Gen Z, it's all about using the proper channels. Because of their connection to technology, you'll need to focus on advertising using social media and apps. You'll also need to keep up with changing technology. Gen Z measures your relevance by your tech-IQ, so read up and keep your business model up-to-date with emerging technology. Attend as many events and conferences as you can on digital media and technology.

The same Gen Z employee who wanted to go straight to the CEO with their idea wants to be a customer who can access your company's CEO. Be successful marketing to this generation by offering an “inside look” at the top level of management and decision making, using social media as a vehicle.

Because Gen Z'ers grew up in a recession, they also tend to be motivated by entrepreneurial opportunities and activities. This means if you've got a product or service with potential for ownership, you may want to target this younger generation. They might be surprisingly willing to invest in new and innovative ideas that have not yet been proven in the marketplace.

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