Gen Z: Digital NativesThe digital natives are made up of two broad groups, Generation Y who are largely under-30, and Generation Z who are under-16. Much has been written about Gen Y digital natives. This article is a preemptive move to describe Gen Z. They are still emerging, so the clear picture of their values is yet to emerge…. But here is what we are able to track now.

Basic Info

The most important thing about Gen Z is to realize that they aren’t just younger Gen Y’s. The table below shows perceptions that Gen Y & Gen Z have of each other – indicating that they see differences themselves.

Top 5 Stereotypes of Gen Z As reported byGen Z  – As reported by Gen Y
#1 Creative    57%        – #1 Lazy    45%
#2 Open-minded    54% #2 Open-minded    41%
#3 New perspective / ideas    52% #3 Creative    38%
#4 Intelligent    44% #4 Self-centered    37%
#5 a. Cutting-edge thinkingb. Lazy    41% #5 Lack of focus, easily distracted    35%
Top 5 Stereotypesof Gen Y As reported byGen Z As reported byGen Y
#1 Open-minded 56% #1 a. Creativeb. Open-minded 50%
#2 New perspectives / ideas 55% #2 a. New perspective / ideasb. Intelligent 46%
#3 Creative 54% #3 Cutting-edge thinking 38%
#4 Intelligent 53% #4 Entrepreneurial 29%
#5 Cutting-edge thinking 40%     – #5 Responsible 27%

Value System Influences

They’ve never heard the sound of dial-up Internet, set the VCR to record a show or used a numerical keypad to text. To them, a magazine is an iPad that doesn’t work. FOMO and twerk are part of their everyday vocabulary.
Born into an era of high-speed internet, Gen Z is touted as being well-educated, ambitious, worldly, collaborative.
Gen Z has spent their entire life with immediate access to an abundance of data on any and every subject that crosses their minds. They want information now, and thanks to the ubiquity of mobile devices, they have the tools to get it.
“Seeing all the bad things that happen made me realize that the world is not perfect…” Growing up in a time of uncertainty (the post-9/11 world, economic recession) and changing norms (increased racial diversity, shifting gender roles), Gen Z is mature, self-directed, and resourceful.


There have been a number of titles bandied about to describe this new generational demographic.
The diversity of naming options is indicative of the fact that this generation is still young and in its formative years, consequently we are still developing a clearer picture of their eventual values and world view.

 Generation Z Gen Z  Post-Millennials iGeneration
 Gen Tech Gen Wii  Net Gen Digital Natives
 Gen Next Post Gen  Scholars Generation Homeland Generation
 Plurals TwoKays or 2K’s Generation i @generation
 The swipe  generation Tweennials Screeners I Touch Generation
 Selfie  Generation Facebook Generation The conflict generation (the generation that grew up during the time of the war on terror)

Traits / Values

When asked for their biggest concern in today’s economy, members of Gen Z were most likely to say jobs/unemployment.
Twenty-five percent are checking email, text and social media within five minutes of waking, according to Wikia, a collaborative media company. Seventy-six percent think their technology skills will help them reach their goals, according to the Wikia study.

Don’t mistake them for Millennials

 Gen Z Millennial [Gen Y]
 5 screens 2 screens
 Communicate with images Communicate with text
 Create things Share things
 Future focused Present focused
 Realists Optimists
 Want to work for success Want to be discovered

So what does the future hold for Gen Z?

  • Nearly half (49%) of those surveyed say they have moved out or plan to be out of the house by age 20,
  • Gen Z say the age they’d be embarrassed to still be living at home with their parents is 28.
  • 17 percent of Gen Y survey respondents say they wouldn’t be embarrassed until age 40 or even older.


Gen Z have a very different approach to work compared to Gen X or Gen Y.
One shift that Generation Z are experiencing is securing post-university internships rather than full-time jobs as traditional employment opportunities become tougher to get. Globally, Gen Z appears to be more entrepreneurial, loyal, open-minded and less motivated by money than Gen Y.
There are some great examples of young Gen Z’s who are already flexing their entrepreneurial muscles:

  • Tavi Gevinson, the 18-year-old media mogul gained Internet fame at the age of 12. Gevinson’s online magazine, Rookie, features stories about pop culture, feminism, fashion and adolescent social issues. Forbes listed Gevinson twice on their 30 Under 30 in media list.
  • Ann Makosinski, is a 15-year-old who won a Google Science Fair for inventing a flashlight that converts heat into energy.
  • Moziah Bridges,12-year-old with a bow tie company that has $150,000 in sales and five employees.
  • Jack Andraka, a high school student, used Google and free science articles to invent an advanced test for hard-to-detect pancreatic cancer. Andraka cites his “teenage optimism” as playing a role in his success.

Collaborative working is something Generation Z is expected to excel at.
Gen Z wants to find a job that inspires them with the vast majority (74%) saying that feeling inspired by their work is more important or equal to the salary they earn. They are also looking for a job that allows them to make a positive contribution to society (59%). Thirty-six percent of those in Gen Z would prefer to be self-employed/entrepreneur, rather than traditionally employed.
Gen Z has seen how much Gen Y has struggled in the recession, they come to the work place well prepared, less entitled, and more equipped to succeed.
Gen Z also have clear ideas on the traits needed to best lead them.

  • Just over half (52%) say that honesty is the most important quality in a good leader.
  • Leaders should also exhibit a solid vision (34%),
  • Good communication skills (32%).
  • Gen Z also want real, personal interaction rather than doing everything via technology, they prefer in-person meetings with managers (51 per cent) as opposed to emailing (16%) or instant messaging (11%).


These young men and women have a different view on money.
Just 17 % believe that the best way to plan for retirement is to invest in the stock market. While 47% believe that a savings account is the best way to prepare for retirement.
An increasing number of those in Gen Z (44%) fear that Social Security and other similar government retirement programs will be depleted by the time they retire.
Members of Gen Z (51%) report that their parents are the number one resource for learning about finances.
84% of those in Gen Z say their parents discussed the importance of saving, on average, by age 14.

Marketing to Gen Z

Gen Z are the next wallet we need to access, and will become increasingly influential in the consumer marketplace. In order to engage them effectively the following marketing principles should be kept in mind:

  1. Communicate visually to a diverse audience across screens
  2. Keep it short [think “snackable” content]
  3. Feed curiosity. Tap into an entrepreneurial spirit
  4. Empower others with control over preference settings
  5. Connect viewers with collaboration and live-streaming technology
  6. Inspire audiences with social causes to rally behind
  7. Educate and build expertise

Generation Z are still children and have limited influence, but smart strategic executives are already considering the horizon and beginning to understand the impact and influence of Digital Natives v2.0.
Do speak to our team if you are interested in our keynote presentation / workshop ‘Meet the Digital Natives‘ to explore this generation and topic in more detail.

TomorrowToday Global