Generation C – The Emergence of Micro-Generations
In his book The ABC of XYZ: Understanding The Global Generations, Australian author Mark McCrindle shared the sociological research of Strauss and Howe to explain the major changes expected in the coming decades, with the arrival of Alpha and Z generations.
According to the theory of Strauss and Howe, the complete cycle of generations of a company is divided into four segments for a period of 16 to 20 years, overlapping over a transition period of four years. And, at each stage of our existence, and according to the social and economic situations that occur during this period, we move from one stage to another; from artist to that of prophet, or from nomadic to hero, depending on whether or not we are going through a crisis.
But Strauss and Howe’s research has shown that crises and major changes occur when artists take their bow, that prophets are aging, the nomads become adults, and that it is ultimately most young people who become heroes. Even today, it could be applied to new digital generations (See also: Generation C – From the Boomers to Generation ALPHA)
The emergence of micro-generations
At a time when new technologies, the web and social media impose major changes every three or four years, the concept of demographic sociology as we knew it, does not really correspond to the new realities of the digital society. Today, the concept of generations can’t just be based on age category. It is influenced more by the new behaviors and practices observed within the same group, in relation to modern changes. And even within the new generations, we can observe different motivations according to the changes that occur.
This is what creates the micro-generations that can be observed in the new generations, as the study Meet The Generation Z – Forget Everything You Learned About The Millennials conducted in 2014, notes. These observations may help us better understand what distinguishes the new digital generations – those that can designate digital natives, but especially Generation Z, which is the first real generation of the new era:
It is in this context that the Trendwatching magazine introduced the concept of Generation C, in 2004, to designate all consumers, from baby boomers to new generations, as connected. In their research, the journalists of the magazine soon realized that we could observe, even within different demographic generations, trends and different behaviors, from one subgroup to another depending on the key events and major changes.
This is what created the micro-generations that are found within the new generations:
Echo-Boomers (Generation Y – 1989/1994)
Currently aged between 21 and 26 years it is the last quarter of Generation Y, and the largest in population terms since the last boomers (1956-1961). Born during fall of the Berlin Wall, and raised during the first years of the Web, it is also the first micro-generation to have experienced the great changes of the transition to the digital age. Today, it has become a generation of pragmatic idealists who remain connected to the same reality, yet they still believe in a better future. They remain entrepreneurs at heart, but also understand that they must gain experience. Unlike the elders of their generation, the Echo – Boomers have greater social awareness, and appreciate the businesses and organizations that demonstrate a commitment at this level.
Net Generation (Generation Z – 1994/1998)
Aged 17 to 21 years, starting in 2010, they became the first sub-group of generation Z to enter the labor market. These are the explorers and scouts of the digital age. They are also being called the Net Generation, because they were born along the web. Having evolved with new technologies from the cradle, they know nothing else but these tools to communicate and learn. For them, web tools are as essential as air and water … they have become extensions of their personalities, and they are literally demanding to use it at work. While remaining as pragmatic about their future, this young cyber – generation are driven by great curiosity, and favor companies that will exploit this and enable them to achieve it through their work.
Rainbow Generation (Generation Z – 1998/2002)
Born during the passage of the new millennium, the young people of this micro-generation are now between 13 and 17 years. Although they have experienced the brunt of the September 2001 events, they retain the hope of a better world and remain optimistic about their future – still confident that they can have a social impact that positively influences their world. In full adolescence, they remain rather carefree and naturally want to be allowed time for recreation. In this sense, education and training in preparation for a professional career, they take pleasure in learning. They want to be treated as individuals, and they see everyone as equals, regardless of nationality or gender orientation.
Post-Millennial generation (Generation Z – 2002/2006)
Young mobile generation, born between 2002 and 2006, they have grown up with social networks and mobile technologies. They are currently between 9 and 13 years old, and like their predecessors, have developed an instinct for collaboration and cooperation with the community. They are also called the Homeland generation because they have grown up in the insecurity of terrorism after the events of 2001. Their learning was done through social networks and mobile and they already show more awareness of the environmental and social problems in the world. We can therefore expect them to try to find these same interests in their working environment when land on the labor market in 2018. They will seek more of a coach or mentor than a traditional leader, as their boss.
Silent Generation (Generation Z – 2006/2010)
This micro-generation, currently aged between 5 and 9, will be the last group Generation Z in the labor market, starting in 2022. It is one that has also crossed the difficult economic crises in 2007-2009. Hyper – connected since birth, they have perfectly mastered the new technological tools and enjoy creating content. The youth of this micro-generation are revealing themselves as more creative than their predecessors, and benefit from an increasingly early introduction to web platforms and social media, in order to express themselves. They reveal, however, a much more closed and introverted society. Rather silent now, they can soon be expected to express their social commitment. And they will require new forms of governance and entrepreneurial management when they arrive in the labor market in 2022. They do not systematically seek to overturn the rules, but this is what we expect to effectively oversees for them to do.
GenZ Research Gap?
Today, even as multiple agencies and researchers are focused on Generation Y, few scientific studies have been done on the new Generation Z and the newer generations (ALPHA) that follow. The phenomenon of generations in the digital age is new, and we inevitably learn more as and when we will integrate new data. In this sense, these findings based on the research of Sparks & Honey and Dan Schawbel, allow us to advance our thinking.
What do you think? Do you think we are heading towards a generations chunking in the digital age? What impact do you think the new generation Z will have on work environments? Share your experiences and your opinion on the new generation Z.
Note: This article was first published in French on my blog website: raymondmorin.com. Parts of this article are excerpts from my new book Generation C (onnectée) – Le marketing d’influence à l’ère numérique, published (in French) by Éditions Kawa, and available online on AmazonFr.
Other interesting links on the generation Z:
Lead/Featured Image: Copyright: ‘http://www.123rf.com/profile_ruivalesousa‘ / 123RF Stock Photo
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