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The Edge

Future Tense: Generation Z

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The Global R&D Team within Accenture Song share their insights on the topic of the future of social media. Content below is from Chloé Cappelier and Pauline Balan, R&D, Sophia Antipolis

Generation Z will be the largest portion of the world’s consumers by 2030. It represents the customers of tomorrow, hence the urgent need to better understand their behaviours and needs.

First, this generation is often presented as perfectly adapted to the digital era in which it grew up, its members are considered “digital natives”. But if we want to have an improved awareness of Gen Z, it’s necessary to put this idea of “generation” into perspective and to free ourselves from certain preconceived ideas.

Following the physical closure of schools during the 2020 lockdown, this image has collided with reality. In fact, some students couldn’t attend remote courses because of the unequal access to computer resources according to social background.

If we want to have an improved awareness of Gen Z, it’s necessary to put this idea of “generation into perspective and to free ourselves from certain preconceived ideas.

Beyond the existence of this digital divide for some, Gen Z is an excellent user of digital tools designed for it and especially social media. In fact, members of Gen Z can manage several identities simultaneously depending on social media: their TikTok account and their Instagram account will each carry a different style.

This ability to manage multiple personalities is accompanied by a real finesse in managing preferences. Gen Zers are comfortable with customising their privacy settings: who can see what content on what platform. In this sense, big tech companies such as Apple and Twitter are progressively rolling out new features that have a deep focus on ensuring a safe and protected space for their young users.

Nevertheless, having multiple digital identities is not without consequences for this generation. A study by GenHQ’s iGen Tech Disruption reports that 42% of Gen Z feel directly and intimately impacted by their activity on social networks and the success or failure of the various actions they take there. Following numerous reports exposing the dangers of social media, such as the one on the risks of Instagram for teenage girls, public institutions are beginning to take steps to limit this impact. For example, the UK government is introducing a law that aims to impose a disclaimer accompanying commercial images of digitally altered bodies, as they can give a distorted perception of appearance, with real consequences for young people with body confidence issues.

Gen Zers are going to be particularly impacted by ongoing environmental imbalances: a person born in the year 2000 will experience seven times more extreme heat waves than a person born in 1960.

To win the hearts of Gen Z, companies must demonstrate their commitment to societal challenges, such as sustainability. Gen Zers are going to be particularly impacted by ongoing environmental imbalances: a person born in the year 2000 will experience seven times more extreme heat waves than a person born in 1960. Additionally, from a 2018 survey from global consulting firm Deloitte, 77% of Gen Z respondents said it was important to work at organisations whose values aligned with theirs. As such, Gen Z no longer forms opinions of a company solely based on the quality of their products/services but also now on their ethics, practices, and social impact.

Written by: Chloé Cappelier and Pauline Balan

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