By Dr. Steven Shepard – Businesses have been deluged with information about the Millennials—a generation of people born, roughly, between 1982 and 2004 (By the way, all of these date ranges have a ‘plus or minus six years’ on either end, so don’t get too wrapped up in absolutes). In many ways, they are an extraordinary generation, vastly different from Gen X and the Boomers who preceded them. They are naturally collaborative; they seek balance between work and life; they are oblivious to race, gender, and ethnicity; and are committed to making a difference in the world. Add to that the fact that they dwarf all other generations, and you understand why marketers and sociologists have paid so much attention to them.
Enter the Digital Natives
But a new generation is now coming of age, and it’s time to shift our attention to them. In the same way that the Millennials were sometimes called Gen Y, this latest generation is often called Gen Z. So, before we go any farther, let’s be clear: that’s not their name. They have accurately been given two equally descriptive names: The Digital Natives, and the Plurals.
Digital Natives were born during or after the introduction of digital technologies, and have therefore never lived in a world without them. Think about it: they have never known a world without mobile telephony, or the Internet, or video games, or social media. Consequently, they are sometimes described as the ‘native speakers’ of the digital world. They are the best educated, most connected, and technologically most sophisticated generation in human history, and they’re about to become buyers and decision-makers. Pay attention.