Every Founder needs to have the possibility for viral growth, white labelling and the ability to speak to Generation Z built into their concept when they approach us at Startup Giants.

So in terms of demographics, the study of Generation Z, iGen or ‘the Linksters’ is absolutely crucial to ongoing sustainability, growth hacking, even blockchain elements for the survival of brands. Anyone who isn’t looking to a five and ten year plan with them in mind is, I fear, in serious danger of damaging their brand, potentially irrefutably.

Gen Z and the next generation after that, when they come of age will simply have yet another choice – college or online tuition? Bank or blockchain?

In an article for the Independent, Johnson said: The Linkster Generation may never write a cheque or walk into a traditional bank,”

As we deal more online than offline, it makes sense for the next wave of Founder’s to ensure that their product offering is so enticing to the online users that they don’t seek to look elsewhere for actual human contact.

So, the Linkster population – estimated to make up 18 per cent of the world’s population – grew up with social media, smart phones and apps. Not only this, but someone born in 2002 is just going to have turned 15-years-old meaning they are developing into adults surrounded by both the help, expertise and pressures of social media, the internet and advanced technology. So as producer of new products we know that given the need their minds will be savvy at working out how the technology works. However, when we’re weighing up what tech startups to invest in, we really need to look at how they’re choosing their products from the sea of tech options. This involves looking at their decision making process overall …

What makes Gen Z tick?

I started off by delving into Psychology Today and was pleased to find that Gen Z are bucking the status quo. Tim Elmore has written a great piece on this and I quote: ‘Generation Z learned from their millennial counterparts who believed what adults told them: graduate high school, do community service, get a degree from a four-year college and you’ll end up in a great job and career. For millions, life did not turn out this way. Gen Z plans to be less conventional with their future opportunities. They are ‘hackers’ who plan to figure out what works best for them, even before they graduate.’

So yes, they’re looking out for what’s best for them, but from everything we’re seeing in campaigns right now, they’re also looking out for the environment, animal welfare as well as caring for themselves and each other. Labelled the ‘conscious society’ of children, the food industry is one example of this conscious change – universities are altering their campuses to have fewer bars and more tea shops, and in 2016 The Vegan Society in partnership with Vegan Life Magazine commissioned research that found that there were over half a million vegans in Great Britain: three and a half times as many as estimated in 2006. At least 542,000 people in Britain alone, are now following a vegan diet and never consume any animal products.

This massive value shift is only gathering momentum and we’re seeing it in all walks of life – from the banning of plastic straws to people earning Earth Miles to get offers on their shopping in a bid to reduce their carbon footprint.

Gen Z want to know where their products are coming from, what they’re made of, what conditions they’re made in and that is on top of the benefits of the original offering. If the results of their enquiries are negative and don’t form a synergy with their beliefs, then Gen Z are prepared to walk away and source a product that does.

As CoreSight Research wrote: ‘Gen Z: Get Ready for the Most Self-Conscious, Demanding Consumer Segment.’

They have grown up with digital tech so they’ve effectively grown up on their parents social feeds in public and are continuing that on with snapchat. More people are concerned about their physical appearance and the social aesthetic of their lives.

Delving further, you can see how the impact of tech has shaped this generation. Gen Z want everything on demand – be it streaming their next movie on Netflix, ordering their favourite restaurant dishes to their door via Deliveroo, or for the nearest person in their locality to give them a ride via Uber.

They’re price and time savvy – in education more and more Gen Z’s are opting for Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCS) in a bid to save money and also time. There’s a desire to be successful younger due to the amount of successful people portrayed on Instagram and YouTube.

Even just listening to this generation around me, I can hear that text talk has totally taken over their lives – they can hold conversations in emojis, memes and gifs. They speak and communicate in a modern language manner.

However, in trying to predict what the next generation of adult tech users will want, we need to understand potential pain points that may arise due to the above…

– Is there too much data and not enough education on how to decipher it for truth?

We’ve already seen the affects of social media on fragile teenager’s self-worth. It really is comparison hell which of course leads into an obsession with being and looking perfect to give off the sense of a perfectly curated life.

– Shorter attention spans leads them to potential impatience, and with AI taking the world by force, their interaction with humans behind brands is lowering, once again reducing their communication to a ZenDesk text talk.

As inventors and as investors I feel that we have a duty to acknowledge the above when deciding where to place tech now.

I believe that if Gen Z want to customise their own futures, as well they should, let’s create and invest in tech that empowers them do that…

So what to look out for, or create within startups?
Transparency is key – after fake news and fake feeds, truth is sought
Ease and immediacy of use – lower attention spans means unless you’re quick and seamless you’re out
Customisation and choice to be apparent in both the product and the buying experience – this I can understand, not only on a personal needs level, but also screaming for a digital product be more meaningful to them. By customisation we can offer feelings and a bit of heart to the tech experience.
Conscious impact – What methods and rules will you incorporate into your strategy to demonstrate the that your product will not harm the world in any way, or re-balance out the odds if it does? From a consumer point of view, what is the impact of their purchase on themselves, their image, society as a whole and their on-going use of it on the planet.
Communication – open, human and real time is still crucial at the heart of product offerings.

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