By Arpanarghya SahaBefore we delve deep to uncover what clicks with the Zillennials and explore the nuances of all things Digital as far as Gen-Z is concerned, let’s first understand what differentiates them from their predecessors.From a vantage which is broader in context and beyond Digital, Gen-Z’s perspective in terms of their worldview, values, and…
By Arpanarghya Saha
Before we delve deep to uncover what clicks with the Zillennials and explore the nuances of all things Digital as far as Gen-Z is concerned, let’s first understand what differentiates them from their predecessors.
From a vantage which is broader in context and beyond Digital, Gen-Z’s perspective in terms of their worldview, values, and beliefs is a contrasting departure from that of the generations prior, viz., the Baby Boomers, the Generation X’ers and the Millennials. Gen-Z are a practical lot, are self-reliant, and highly collaborative. They care more about social equality & justice, and about the environment and climate change issues than their predecessors. With freedom of expression being one of the things they value the most, they are zealous about authenticity.
When it comes to Digital Technology, all the previous generations travelled a journey from one world to the other – that from the realm of Analog to the realm of Digital. This journey was gradual, covered over many decades and came with various sets of milestones.
On the contrary, Zillennials were born bang in the middle of a Digital world. Their initiation to technology was not gradual and step-by-step. Rather, they just grew up with Technology seeping all around. As someone has rightly mentioned, this is the generation which learnt to swipe before they could talk. They are the true-blue Digital Natives, the first generation to have never known a world without the internet.
Born into a world of smartphones, tabs, apps and connected Digital experiences, their primary activity is being online as much as three-fourths of their spare time. With 3 screens or even more being the norm in an average day of their lives, and with two-thirds of such Gen Z-ers using more than one online device at a time, this is the generation which communicates in images and memes more than text. In fact, the WhatsApp chat syntax and some emojis, which seem completely normal to Millennials are found to be passed by Gen-Z. With social media intertwined in their lives, they believe in driving collaborations and co-creation in the virtual spaces for the benefit of the larger communities that they are a part of.
Being the pragmatic and eager individuals that they are, armed with access to troves of information and knowledge online, Gen-Z are more active as investors than the previous generations were in their corresponding life-stages. They do tend to start their investment journeys early on in their lives than their predecessors and one can see them investing in a whole spectrum of options – from stocks to mutual funds, from crypto-currencies to NFTs.
As with their perceptions and beliefs, their reasons to invest and their financial goals are also completely different to the previous generations. They do not believe in saving for owning a house, for example, or for securing their retirement. Their ultimate goal is to be financially autonomous and Zillennials pursue it religiously with absolute focus and ferocity. That is the reason why Gen-Z tends to gravitate towards the F.I.R.E movement – an acronym for “Financial Independence, Retire Early” with the goal to invest aggressively when young to retire in your 30s or 40S (before the traditional retirement age). This is in complete contrast to the disciplined savings & investing approach that the whole Financial Services industry has been propagating since times immemorial.
So, the question arises, how does an enterprise create and sustain Digital experiences and Smart platforms that are not merely relevant but empower the Zillennials to realise their goals and ambitions?
The need is to toss away the traditional hat that has been donned by “ Digital specialists” and start viewing it from the radically different eyes of Gen Z. The old hands are used to “Digital Transformation”, the term essentially originating from converting or evolving the Analog to Digital. However, for Gen-Z, there was never an analog world! For this generation, there is no “Internet” or “online.” They are connected to the Digital realm in a seamless and pervasive manner and for them, there is no boundary between the digital and real-world experiences – it’s all encompassing and defines their de-facto human experience!
From shopping physically in a fashion store not by expecting an attendant but aided by an app of that store, to doing a ‘hang-out’ with family while waiting at the airport, to watching a live sports match online with a dozen other friends, participate via an avatar for Metaverse events , the Zillennials thrive in a world where digital experiences are omnipresent. Communication in this era has moved from type Chats to Voice & Video and in the times to come one’s Avatar will do most of the said leg work and the Host’s binary role will be of acceptance or pass over( rejection ) .
Viewing it from a Zillennials perspective, the whole frame must shift from “Transformation” to “Fluidic Reinvention”, wherein enterprises and businesses need to
- Be more embracing and work collectively with these Gen-Z users to co-create the experiences that these users are comfortable with
- Start shaping up enabling frameworks which supports the fluidic movement of these users across a multiplicity of devices, screens, virtual realities, and even physical spaces without the hassles of multiple identifications and repeated authentications
- Prepare to build platforms which are beyond type and swipe – think voice, gestures, voice recognition, movements, on the fly intelligent predictions with AI , etc.
- Be the dependable ally that helps them sift through the layers and take the right decisions quickly. Take up the mantle to evolve from personalisation to customization powered by intelligent understanding and with a great degree of accuracy and consistency.
- Remember that they believe in authentic moments and experiences, hence every proposition that you put forth for them needs to be genuine and not just an outcome of some broad segmentation or classification exercise. All interactions are potential trust builders or breakers and businesses need to be cognizant of that
- Share not only knowledge and information but also embed enablers on such platforms that facilitate sharing of knowledge and information and of ideas as well so that it brings about greater benefit to their community
With Gen-Z already poised to become a driving force, it is the perfect time for Enterprises to reach out to them and explore their mindset, preferences, and expectations regarding their business and their digital experience. For this is the generation that holds the key in terms of the future of all things digital and what any organisation builds from now on will define how that organization shapes up in the times to come.
The era of Consumers choosing Platforms has passed, going ahead the oligopolistic market will have Intelligent Fluid Platforms e-picking Consumers via devices, wearables and other Internet of things. And in a Problem of Plenty Marketplace, Organisations / Brands will need to gear up to cater to this REAL TIME population via Smarter Platforms.
The author is Chief Digital Officer at Nippon India Mutual Fund.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETCIO.com does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETCIO.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organization directly or indirectly.
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