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Raymond Morin
September 30, 2015

Generation Z: The Guiding Light of the Digital Age

In a recent article on Sprout Social; Gen Z vs Gen Y: Does the Hype Add UpAubre Andrus discusses some highlights from an influential Sparks & Honey study that distinguish the Z generation of their predecessors in Generation Y. According to the study, published in 2014, Generation Z (born after 1994) already accounts for over a quarter (25.9%) of the population, representing the largest contingent since the baby boomers. (Read also: Toward New Baby Boom With Generation Z).

A generation steeped in the Internet at birth

As the author points out, the fundamental difference between the two generations is the fact that young people of Generation Y (or Millennials) have grown up in a world full of change with intelligent devices and the emergence Internet. Young Millennials have learned to adapt to new technologies, from 54k modems to iPods and MySpace and Google Maps SMS and tablets.

The young generation Z, meanwhile, were born during the transition to the digital age, often knowing surf the Internet before they can even walk. From birth, their whole life is already on the web, their first birthdays to first words, through pages Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, and blogs of their parents. Over the years, they have developed their own community, and have made friends around the world through online video games and sharing sites. For them, social media is a natural extension of their personality.

A pragmatic and visual generation that wants to take action

The study by Sparks & Honey also shows that young generation Z are much more selective and pragmatic with regard to social networks than we could have imagined. They appear to be more visual than textual in their research.

Where young Generation Y use two screens, those of the generation Z has already activated to five. With the generation Z, the old adage that a picture is worth 1000 words makes sense. Why write a text, when you can send a picture, video, or even a GIF emoji, when grows up with HD videos and photos?

On social networks, they will first trust their relatives and will rely more on influencers rather than celebrities. This would explain the huge success of the young PewDiePie (40 million users on YouTube), and the popularity of photo sharing sites like Instagram and Snapchat, to the detriment of Twitter and Facebook, where those of Generation Y continue to seek their fifteen minutes of fame. Contrary to what one might have thought, they consider social media primarily as tools to communicate and exchange, and to get what they want.

A more independent and conscientious generation

student-red-ribbon-2According to the data presented, 41% of young generation Z spend over three hours a day on the Internet outside of school work, in search of opportunities. And they want to meet their contacts in person as soon as the opportunity arises. They want to take action, and that their actions have an impact on their community. In this context, they demonstrate more determination and autonomy with social media tools, and will seek to achieve their goals.

The same study reveals that over 60% of youth surveyed think seriously about starting their own business rather than working for someone else. And to achieve this, more than half spend most of their free time developing new skills, including graphic design, video production and app design and development.

The Sparks & Honey study also shows that young generation Z are increasingly aware and concerned about their future than their elders Generation Y. More than a quarter of young people surveyed are already volunteer for a cause and wished to have a positive impact on society. They are concerned about the economic, social and environmental causes, and more than 80% are worried about the impact of humanity on the planet.

The coming of the digital age builders

These are just some of the findings of the study by Sparks & Honey raised by the author, which in my opinion clearly show why the youth of the generation Z are the builders of the new digital age. They master all Internet tools and demonstrate more determination and autonomy than had been suspected or had been shown by their predecessors. They have an entrepreneurial vision and social conscience that has been lacking in previous generations, and which will place the controls of a new major economic power. Already in the United States alone, their purchasing power is estimated at over $44 billion, financed largely by allowances averaging about $17 a week per person.

In this context, and at the risk of repeating myself, the new generation Z has all of the tools to become in some ways the new headlights that can guide us in the business world’s final transition to the digital age. Their intrinsic understanding of technologies we needed to adapt to, positions them perfectly to guide us in ways we would be unlikely to intuit. Let’s open ourselves to these new experiences and enjoy the steps into what is currently for us, still the unknown.


Image attribution: Copyright: ‘‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

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Raymond Morin

SMO Senior Consultant, Author/Blogger and Speaker at Virage 2.0
Raymond Morin is a francophone author and speaker, who has also acted as senior strategic consultant and coach for organizations, SMBs and independent professionals for over 20 years. An early adopter to the Web and social media, he shared his learning and knowledge, throughout those years, for the benefits of several funding and governmental organizations, before choosing to be a freelancer for entrepreneurs and professionals organizations. His focus is on establishing bridges between the different enterprises and consumers, to fill the gap between cultures and generations, for the benefits of each professional user. Author of the books "Culture Web à la portée des PME" (2001) and "Comment entreprendre le virage 2.0" (2010), he has also contributed to several magazines and bloggers platforms over the years. His upcoming new book in French, entitled "Generation C et l’influence des consommateurs branchés", is prefaced by Neal Schaffer, and will be also published in English and Spanish during the next year.