The ‘Most Disruptive Generation Ever’ — Gen Z — Is Set to Shape the Business World

By Mariliana Fotopoulou Monday, December 21, 2020

Generation Z — which refers to individuals born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s — is arriving at the “crime scene.” Gen Z is now entering employment and it has been described by the Bank of America (BofA) as the “most disruptive generation ever.”

The “Online Generation”

Bank of America predicts that Gen Z will leapfrog Millennials’ earning power by 2031 as their income is likely to exceed $33 trillion by this year, according to BofA’s equity strategist Haim Israel.

"They've never known a life without Google, 40% prefer hanging out with friends virtually than in real life, they will spend six years of their life on social media and they won’t use credit cards. They’re the 'clicktivists:’ flourishing in a decade of social rights movements, with 4 in 10 in our proprietary BofA seeing themselves as “citizens of the world,” the analyst wrote in a research note sent to clients last month.

“The Gen Z revolution is starting, as the first generation born into an online world is now entering the workforce and compelling other generations to adapt to them, not vice versa. Thus, about to become most disruptive to economies, markets, and social systems."

According to Israel, Gen Z’s income is about 27% of the global income, and this percentage will only get bigger as more and more individuals from Gen Z enter the labor market, in addition to the “Great Wealth Transfer” that takes place every now and then.

Given their apparent interests and preferences, and the amount of income at their disposal, their emergence is likely to accelerate some ongoing trends, such as e-commerce, streaming media, video games, and fintech products (e.g., cryptocurrencies and mobile wallets).

Four Key Trends

According to the research conducted by Stacy Wood, Langdon Distinguished Professor of Marketing at N.C. State University, four characteristics are likely to define Generation Z as consumers as they enter the labor market.

Innovation is an apparent characteristic given that this generation is born in the decade after the global emergence of the internet. Generation Z hasn’t experienced a world before the internet and technology, and for this reason, they always expect better, faster, and more sophisticated versions of tech products.

This means that Gen Z is likely to constantly have high expectations for innovation since consumers from this generation always had border options in the marketplace compared to their predecessors. Therefore, their dependence on design-based differentiation to make a choice is likely to remain high.

The use of convenience products at home is another trend that is witnessed from Gen Z. The majority of Gen Z are the children of Generation X, with the latter known for their reliance on convenience.

Because they haven’t experienced the so-called “from scratch” consumption and due to high pressure on young people today to succeed at a young age, they’re likely to have a higher dependence on convenience in product attributes such as delivery, experience, and messaging, according to the Institute for Emerging Issues.

As a generation that has grown up during economically challenging times — the Global Financial Crisis — Gen Z is likely to seek a higher degree of security needs, according to Wood.

Additionally, children who grow up during times of recession, such as the Great Depression and the 1970s, are usually less confident and are more concerned about financial issues. As a result, there is an increased reliance on education during such periods as parents work to protect their children through career growth.

Also, in times like this, families are increasingly saving money and are prone to conservative spending, but this is largely dependent on opportunities for financial education.

Finally, Gen Z is likely to be attracted by products that “contribute to escapism.”

“First, this behavior in the home will likely mirror their parents’ generation. Generation X is often characterized as a generation highly prone to escapist consumption pursuits including entertainment (e.g., movies, music, video-games), extreme sports, dining out, and fostering social “tribes” (networks of friends that take the place of distant family),” Wood wrote.

Summary

Generation Z has entered the labor market and already made a substantial impact on how new businesses and consumer trends are shaped. Gen Z is expected to surpass Millennials’ earnings power by 2031, with their income now being estimated at 27% of the global income.

About the Author


Headshot for author Mariliana Fotopoulou

Mariliana has an MSC in consumer analytics and business strategy. She has a special interest in fast-moving industries and big data.

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