From Millenials to Generation Alpha ~ Understanding will Guarantee Business Success
Once upon a time the Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) were the demographic target that businesses sought to attract. As the Baby Boomers aged, the next group of interest was Generation X (1965-1980). Businesses are currently focused on Millennials (1980-2000), soon to be followed by Generation Z (2001-2009) and Generation Alpha (2010- 2025 est).
Let us first examine in greater detail the Millennials and how businesses continue to reach out to that group. Bonnie Monydch, Performance Specialist @ Insperity in her article Millennials in Charge: How They are Changing the Workplace, points out that "Millennials are the first generation to have access to digital technology their whole lives. Millennials are not afraid of futuristic concepts. They are more conceptual than practical. They are risk takers who are not worried about making mistakes or failing. This generation was raised being told everything they did was wonderful. It is not about age with Millennials; is about skill set, passion, energy, and excitement in the workplace."
Nikletta Bika, Senior Content Writer @ Workable.com in her article Millennials in the Workplace: How to Manage and Engage them, suggests:
1. Be accessible and approachable
The model of the unreachable manager who stays in the shadows while their team does the work is counter-productive. The manager who always complains and mopes is even more so. Employees need to feel that they are trusted and valued, and that you, The manager, have a genuine interest in helping them develop and improve. Do not be afraid to be persuaded by a good line of reasoning, even if you are the final decision-maker and this feedback comes from people who report to you.
2. Give them the resources to thrive.
Most people want to do their jobs well, productively. To do so, they need adequate resources. It is a good idea to promote learning and development opportunities for your team members. Some might have found useful conferences to attend, while others might prefer learning from books and online courses. One good thing about Millennials is that they are familiar with technology; they are the first generation to spend the developmental years of their lives on the internet and portable gadgets.
3. Help them improve on the job
Wondering how to train Millennials in the workplace? Conferences and courses are useful, but so is analyzing mistakes and feedback, especially because Millennials are still younger and thus less experienced than the overall workforce. Giving feedback on specific tasks or arranging for job-shadowing with you or others is helpful. Sharing relevant content with them is important, make sure that they know discussion is a two-way street. Trust them with extra duties occasionally.
4. Provide for them
Some aspects of a job are more important than others to most people, such as job security, living wages, health benefits and recognition for their work. These aspects may not be entirely inside your control, but doing the best you can will certainly earn your team members’ trust and respect. Push for salary levels to be equal to or above market when possible. Ask what other companies of your size and industry offer as benefits and suggest ways to stay ahead of the competition.
5. Support their future and purpose
Succession-planning and internal-mobility opportunities help your team members realize their aspirations, and are good for the organization as a whole. Millennials want to feel their work has a purpose that goes beyond their own self-development. Make sure you explain how each project contributes to the customers’ lives or the company as a whole. Another aspect is to help Millennials plan long-term.”
The key to running any successful business is to know your customer! Much time and money have been spent understanding the buying habits of the Millennial generation. Now we turn to upcoming groups of powerful consumers. Generation Z and Generation Alpha currently are not a huge economic factor and it is too soon to market to them directly. Not many Generation Z members will be answering job postings, and Generation Alpha members have a few years before they even enter the workforce. The New York Times reports that “there are 2.5 million members of Generation Alpha born each week; when all is said and done, there will be more than 2 billion Generation Alphas by 2025.”
But now is the time to familiarize yourselves with their habits so you are prepared to market to them as customers or employees. Older members of Generation Z are starting to enter the workforce and at a young age Generation Alpha already have a direct influence on the purchasing decisions made by their families. Ashley Fell, Communications Director @ McCrindle, suggests about members of these younger generations:
1. Digital: “With Generation Alpha, it will just be seamlessly integrated from the youngest age. Of course, all of these apps and technologies really impact them in their formative years.
2. Global: They are probably more likely to know what is happening on the other side of the world than with their neighbors because the world is globally connected, and they have access to endless information through digital technology.
3. Mobile: They will have opportunities to work and study globally, so they will be changing jobs and changing careers more frequently. For Generation Z (the generation after Millennials), it’s predicted they will have 18 jobs across six careers in their lifetime and if we extrapolate, we imagine the same if not more intense for Generation Alpha.
4. Social: Every generation in their formative teen years are influenced by their peers. The peer influence for these groups is magnified and exacerbated by social media and connectivity. So they are very social, used to having peer reviews, and looking to friends and technology and social-media influences for thoughts and opinions and advice.
5. Visual: The top search-engine for Generation Alpha is no longer Google, it is YouTube, because why read it when they can watch it?”
A further elaboration is offered by Sabrina Son, writer @ TINYpulse.com in her article Top 5 Things You Need To Know About Generation Z and Generation Alpha:
1. “They will never know a world without social media. True, some of the older members of Generation Z might have a few years’ worth of memories that do not include hanging out on social media. Most of the folks in that group — and certainly all of those in Generation Alpha — simply will not be aware of a world that exists without social media.
2. To say technology comes naturally to them is an understatement. It seems the youngest generations are born with an intuitive knowledge of technology. In fact, members of Generation Z (and Generation Alpha when they come of age) do not even think about technologies as tools, according to a Business Insider article. Instead, they integrate technologies directly into their lives. Perhaps for this reason, experts believe that members of Generation Alpha might begin school earlier and study longer than those who came before them.
3. They will not know what it is like to shop in a store. The U.S. mobile commerce market grew from $75 billion in 2014 to $104 billion in 2015, according to Internet Retailer, representing 25% and 30% of the entire e-commerce market respectively. We can reasonably expect these numbers to climb even higher this year as more Americans become comfortable buying things on their smartphones and tablets. To this end, one can only imagine how big the m-commerce market (and e-commerce market, too, for that matter) will be when members of Generation Z and Generation Alpha come of age. It is safe to say these people will be doing most of their shopping electronically.
4. They’re worried about finding a job. If you think it was hard being a kid, imagine being worried about finding a job after college before you have even graduated from high school. According to Fortune, in a recent survey nearly one-third of Generation Z students indicated that finding a job after graduation is their top concern. Maybe this worry stems from technology connecting them with what is going on in the world. In any event, it is evident that members of these younger generations plan ahead, to say the least.
5. They’re entrepreneurial. According to Forbes, more than half of Generation Z members who were surveyed indicated they would like to start their own business. Though members of Generation Alpha are still crawling, waddling, and running into walls, we can assume this trend will continue, and our youngest will similarly be drawn to entrepreneurial endeavors”.
Aiming your business development at Generation Z and Generation Alpha will guarantee that your company will be competitive well into the 21st century.
Originally published in the April 2020 issue of Cleaner & Launderer