How Technology Is Shaping the Next Generation

Brand Strategy

We have heard A LOT about the Millennials over the past few years, but what about the generation that follows, one that has been referred to as Generation Z.

For these kids, aged two to 19, the internet has been ubiquitous and more fully formed than it was for the Millennials who came before. Smartphones and other types of technology provide a constant connection to people and information, changing the patterns of our lives, the way we accomplish tasks and how we use our brains. How will that shape the generation born in the digital age?

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A DIY approach to life

Previous generations may have been somewhat skeptical about the content found online, but for Generation Z the internet is their primary source of quality information.

As a result, they take a much more do-it-yourself approach to education. According to generational research firm Culture Coop, 61 percent say they turn to YouTube to learn how to do pretty much everything. For these kids, finding and sharing information online and through technology is second nature.

Weird is the new normal

Many of us grew up desperately trying to fit in with the norms of our families, schools and groups of friends, opting to conform rather than be left out. The tweens and teens of Generation Z are more apt to let their freak flags fly, with 74 percent saying they are “commonly uncommon,” according to Culture Coop. These days, no matter how weird to you are or how niche your interests, you can find likeminded people to connect with online.

A thick skin and an old soul

While the Millennials were the generation raised by helicopter parents who sought to protect them from the harsh realities, Generation Z was born into an era rife with environmental, societal and political troubles and the ability to learn about all of it online in a constant torrent of news and information. In many ways this makes them more resilient. It also tends to create a degree of precocity, leading many to reach conclusions and develop opinions about complex subject matter at an earlier age.

Nostalgia for a tech-free time

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Imagine a childhood or early adulthood without the spontaneity and sense of discovery that accompanies the unknown, the excitement of getting lost only to stumble upon an unusual restaurant or quirky shop. The prevalence of technology makes those serendipitous moments fewer and far between for this generation, and why many are nostalgic for and/or curious about the pre-digital era.

As brands try to reach this demographic, some things to think about

  • Does your message and voice consider their precocity but also their inexperience?
  • How does your content help them accomplish their goals or learn something new?
  • Can you provide the experiences and physical connection that technology has made scarce?
  • How can you tailor your message to specific niches within your audience?
Author: Maribeth Neelis