Move over, millennials. Gen Z is the newest generation of Delta Upsilons.
By Hayden Rahn, Oregon ’16, Expansion & Development Director
Michelle Marchand, M.A., Senior Director of Chapter Development
If you have not had the opportunity to meet Generation Z yet, let us introduce you. Born between 1996 and 2010, the new generation of individuals, Generation Z, can be described as loyal, thoughtful, compassionate, open-minded, responsible and determined. However, they are so much more than that.
Generation Z is a generation of creative and innovative digital natives who crave authenticity. They are a generation whose perspective has been shaped by a world of war in the Middle East, financial recession and the dominance of social media. They are a generation where they expect to get information within seconds, and brands are constantly bombarding them in an effort to buy their product, despite Gen Z's brand loyalty not being as strong as previous generations. But most importantly, Generation Z has entered college, meaning as a Fraternity, we are working with this generation daily. Utilizing both generational research and hands-on work with undergraduate chapters and members, this article shares five characteristics that are important to know in communicating and working with Gen Z.
1. Generation Z is financially aware and fiscally conservative.
1/3 of Gen Z is concerned about their family’s financial stability.
If you have not had the opportunity to meet Generation Z yet, let us introduce you. Born between 1996 and 2010, the new generation of individuals, Generation Z, can be described as loyal, thoughtful, compassionate, open-minded, responsible and determined. However, they are so much more than that. Generation Z is a generation of creative and innovative digital natives who crave authenticity. They are a generation whose perspective has been shaped by a world of war in the Middle East, financial recession and the dominance of social media. They are a generation where they expect to get information within seconds, and brands are constantly bombarding them in an effort to buy their product, despite Gen Z's brand loyalty not being as strong as previous generations. But most importantly, Generation Z has entered college, meaning as a Fraternity, we are working with this generation daily. Utilizing both generational research and hands-on work with undergraduate chapters and members, this article shares five characteristics that are important to know in communicating and working with Gen Z.
2. Generation Z craves personal interactions and authenticity.
Despite always being “plugged in,” Gen Z craves personal interactions.
Although a generation of digital natives and social media savants, Generation Z craves face-to-face, authentic relationships. They want to feel like their relationships and friendships are real, something that is not always the case on social media where it is easy to edit a photo, act as if everything is great, and put on a show for followers. However, face-to-face interactions are different. For Gen Z, it allows for them to disconnect from their phones, focus on the person in front of them and have genuine and authentic conversations. In fact, a 2017 survey conducted by Boston-based advertising agency Hill Holliday of over 1,000 consumers between 18-24 regarding social media showed that more than 70 percent of Gen Z individuals believe that people their age are too distracted by social media, and more than half of Gen Z is seeking some sort of relief from social media. This means that for Gen Z, disconnecting from social media to have face-to-face, personal interactions is something they are constantly craving. Not to mention, they are a generation motivated by making a difference for others, as found in the study of Gen Z conducted by Corey Seemiller and Meghan Grace.
3. Generation Z is a social generation.
In a Gen Z study, 61% said social media has positive impact on self-confidence. However, another 22% said it made them feel left out.
To no surprise, Generation Z is a social generation. With nearly 100 percent of Gen Z adults using social media, they are the first true digital natives, having grown up in a world entirely connected by the internet and mobile devices with 24/7 access. Social media runs the generation, and it often seems as if with every free moment this generation has, they are on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, etc. With this so-called social media dominance, it is important to note the positives and pitfalls that it has on the generation. Hill Holiday, the Boston-based advertising agency that conducted the social media survey, found that 71 percent reported social media as having a positive impact on friendships, in addition to 61 percent reporting that it had a positive impact on self-confidence. However, the survey also found that social media had a negative influence. Of those surveyed, 41 percent reported that social media made them sad, anxious or depressed, as well as giving them a sense of insecurity. Another 22 percent reported that social media has made them feel left out. Knowing this information, it is important to understand that while social media has a positive impact on the generation related to self-confidence and friendships, there can be significant negative effects that may show up in the work we do with the generation.
4. Generation Z is a group of innovators and entrepreneurs.
Forget the traditional desk job. Gen Z wants to be their own boss and invent things to make the world a more efficient place.
Generation Z is a generation of creative individuals striving to think of innovative ways to make the world a better and easier place to live. For this generation, they are constantly using apps and websites that encourage this type of thinking and have shown that great things can happen when someone takes an innovative idea and runs with it. Gen Z uses apps and services daily such as Uber, Lyft, GrubHub, Amazon and more, and their goal is to create something similar. Anecdotally, Fraternity staff have interacted with multiple undergraduates who either have created or are in the process of creating an app, and it’s likely you have too. Furthermore, for Gen Z, the typical 40-hour work week desk job is a thing of the past. Instead, they strive to be their own boss or work for a place that encourages creativity, innovation, freedom, change and, on some days, the ability to work from home or in a coffee shop. Simply put, Gen Z looks to create their own opportunities that embody who they are or what they value with a goal to help make the world a more efficient place to live.
5. Generation Z is open-minded, diverse and inclusive.
48% of Gen Z is from communities of color according to Pew Research.
Because Generation Z grew up and will continue to grow up in a society that is dominated by social media and quick access information, they are an open-minded, diverse and inclusive generation. They are a generation that has been and continues to be constantly exposed to different viewpoints, opinions and lifestyles. With a curiosity to learn more, they have all the information they need at their fingertips and can access it within seconds. When an event happens on the other side of the world, this generation has been able to watch it unfold in real-time, not just from news outlets, but from the social media feeds of people experiencing it first-hand. To add, based on Corey Seemiller and Meghan Grace’s research, Gen Z individuals have diverse social circles that care passionately about issues related to racial and gender equality and more. This has led to a generation that embraces diversity and inclusion along with increased empathy for the lived experiences of those different than them.
What we know about Generation Z will continue to evolve as the years go on, and the way in which we work with this generation will continue to be better understood as more research is collected. For now, we know this: Generation Z is a generation of financially aware and creative information seekers. They expect information within seconds and the ability to create their own opportunities. They strive to put down the phone and shut off social media in hopes to make authentic connections and thoughtful decisions. Gen Z embraces diversity, inclusion, innovation and the hope to one day to make the world a better and more efficient place. Say hello to Generation Z because they are here, and they are ready to make a difference.
- “Generation Z Goes to College,” Corey Seemiller and Meghan Grace (book)
- Hill Holiday Study: https://genz.hhcc.com/hubfs/Gen%20Z%20-%20The%20Social%20Generation%20%7C%20Hill%20Holliday-4.pdf?submissionGuid=e1937055-9a4a-400f-a5ab-f910a8b6fdbb
Current Living Generational Timeline
Generation Z is the newest generation to join the ranks of Delta Upsilon. Today’s current undergraduate brothers are a part of Gen Z, a generation that is reshaping the way the world communicates. Let’s take a deeper dive into how Gen Z compares to other generations.