But What About Z?

By Kevin Brand

This week in marketing, we discussed in class the use of social media across all the generations; the Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y (or the millennials), and Generation Z.  Generally, we agreed that the Baby Boomers probably only used Facebook as a social media tool to keep up with their grandchildren. Gen X has a higher Facebook usage rate, and also uses LinkedIn, and to some extent Twitter. Gen Y, we agreed, uses any social media site you find out there, ranging from Facebook, Twitdownload (4)ter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Vine, Pinterest, Tumblr, Path, etc., in high volume. Gen Z is among the same levels, except maybe less use of LinkedIn and more Tinder Farmville. Each Generation has their distinctive quality that separates itself from the rest. It’s easy to see the differences between Gen X and the Baby Boomers, and Gen Y from both of those, but Gen Z seems like an extension of Y rather than a next generation. How do we best differentiate Z then? Besides the obvious age difference, it’s tough to say given how we live our social lives, as many people now have a social media footprint before they are even born. What is Gen Z’s distinctive quality?

Gen Y ranges from the period of around 1980-1994, and Gen Z ranges from 1995-today. Gen Y was the beginning of the Internet, social media, and online shopping. Gen Y’ers were the first to have laptop computers, cell phones and e-mail by the time they were in college (90% on average). They (we) are financially responsible for themselves, making their own purchasing decisions. Gen Z was born in the Internet. Social media knew more about them before they knew what up was. Gen Z’ers have iPads by pre-school, phones by elementary school, and laptops are provided in middle school. E-mails are used solely for creating a Facebook account, and from there, you connect your entire social media platform. Traditional advertising is no longer effective, many Z’ers can block out the old tricks by tuning into their phone which they carry around everywhere. With DVR and social media apps, commercials are easily ignored. Advertising will never be the same; if the message doesn’t get presented in the first 5 seconds, it’ll be replaced with the latest YouTube hit.

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In a way, the title “Gen ZImage” is misleading. They aren’t the end of anything, they are the beginning of the Tech Gen. Gen Y was the prototype, Gen Z is the product. From here on out, the social world we live in has changed. The way we interact, the way we shop, the way we sell, the way we travel, the materials we use. Put down the hammer and pick up the 3D printer, this is the Tech Gen now. Gen Y will be remembered for creating the social media monster, Gen Z will be remembered for the beginning of the technology revolution.

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