The progression of generations, with changing priorities along with new fads and expressions, can be confusing at times. We all know that the so-called "generation gap" is a real thing, no matter how much we all attempt to remain young and in tune with the times.
Businesses are affected by generational concerns and disparities, as are families. Homebuilders, and those of us in associated trades, have a stake in what the various age groups of buyers want. How they view the world, and how they respond to the trends, has a direct effect on what we do, and can even affect our livelihood and our business success.
In some recent posts, we have focused on Millennials and Baby Boomers. But there's a new generation worthy of attention. Dubbed Generation Z, this new crop of young people is occasionally also referred to as the "post-Millennial" generation, less frequently as the "iGeneration." Roughly, the birth years of this latest population cohort, which now represents more than a quarter of the U.S. population, are between 1995 and 2009.
Why are they important?
The oldest members of the group are, most likely, in college, recently graduated from college, or just entering the work force; the youngest will arrive at that threshold soon enough. If you're still thinking, "So what," consider this.
New Blood in the Building Industry
There is a distinctive difference in perception and mindset between Millennials and Generation Zers, according to observers, based on their early experiences and the world into which each was born. Technology plays a major part in the life and experiences of this new population group; they have never been without it. Because of the tech tools that they have embraced from early childhood, they tend to be 1) less focused and 2) more able to multi-task than their older brothers and sisters. They also have a couple of other attributes that may propel them into the work force earlier than Millennials.
While it's not totally scientific, it is thought that this group will be more interested in pursuing entrepreneurial success and less dependent on formal, traditional higher education than Millennials. They are also, however, more competitive, less loyal and more "needy" than the previous generation. They want to be appreciated, valued and catered to or they will simply move on. That speaks volumes about the way a savvy employer will have to learn to treat new employees.
If you're gearing up to expand your building business during the next five to ten years, you might want to consider the implications of workers who value independence and individuality while at the same time holding on to high expectations and a need for security.
Generation Z -- Future Homebuyers?
It's not only in the work force that members of Generation Z will have an effect. The startling fact is that these young people, and their spending habits, already have a $44 million impact on the economy. It is estimated that by 2020, the population of this generation will account for one third of the U.S. total. They will wield tremendous influence and all indications are that they will spend less cautiously than Millennials, who still recall the effects of the recession.
There are other Generation Z indicators, as well, that are worth noting:
- Their familiarity with and dependence on technology will almost certainly influence the direction of home design for the future.
- Seventy-two percent of teens today say would be interested in starting and owning their own businesses. Might that also point to a need for more home offices and flex spaces? It's worth considering.
- They are more "global" in focus than other generations. They are attached, though technology, to the world; that will certainly influence their lifestyles and may have an influence on building materials and home design, as well as on advertising, marketing, buying, selling and financing.
- They believe in causes, and want to make a difference. But they also are pragmatic and realistic.
No matter what actually occurs over the next decade -- and whether Generation Z actually matures in conformity to these early indicators -- they still represent a large pool of future employees as well as potential home buyers.
None of us can afford to ignore that fact!