Anyone who thinks young people uncritically embrace everything the Internet has to offer, and are willing to sacrifice privacy for the sake of instant satisfaction, should look at generation Z. A recent Cognizant-commissioned study in the US on attitudes of today’s 15 to 22-year-olds found a generation that was less positive about the web than millennials (ages 23 to 41) or gen X (ages 42 to 53).
Generation Z was born into a connected world of Internet, smartphones and social media. For this generation, the Internet is a given. And the younger people are (so the study suggests), the more likely they are to regard the Internet critically, citing privacy concerns and misuse of personal information as key reasons.
Despite their always-on reputation (Gen Z averages five hours or more on their phones daily), this generation demands transparency. Over two-thirds of respondents in this age group in the Cognizant study said companies knew too much about them, and are concerned that their data can be sold or manipulated. They are also less likely to view the web as their preferred platform. This trend is also true of Switzerland: Credit Suisse’s annual Youth Barometer shows that the Swiss Gen Z’s preferred channels are WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.
Pay, not play
Right now, Gen Z does not have much purchasing clout. But this coming generation looks to be keener on pay than on play. In Switzerland, research company Universum found that Gen Z is more ambitious, and sets less store by work-life balance than the slightly older millennials. It could be an affluent generation – and organizations need to figure out now how to win them over.
Gen Z wants understanding
What Gen Z respondents do want is for brands to understand them. They are willing to share data with organizations they trust – demonstrated through relevant, personalized advertising, and though shared values.
To capture hearts (and wallets), providers must deliver the digital experience that young people expect as a matter of course, but also need to build the trust that, for Gen Z, will underpin the commercial relationship and even make them into valuable brand ambassadors.