They were born into the digital age and have never known life without the internet. They have a world of information at their fingertips and they want it quicker than the Millennium Falcon made the Kessel run. They are Generation Z.
The children of Generation X, born into this cohort in the mid-1990's, are now entering the workplace and developing their own opinions on finance, politics and health in the here and now, and for the future. So far, they have been shaped by advancements in technology, and have much more access to, and are keenly aware of, global political events and the impact these have on society. All of this will have had a fundamental impact on Gen Z's attitude towards life and future values so it should be no surprise that they have different mindsets and behaviours to previous generations when in their early stages of life.
There are important differences between them and their Generation X parents, who sat astride the world of pre-technology and this brave new world of social media. Also known as "digital natives," they are growing up with smartphones, tablets and laptops as omnipresent necessities in their everyday activities.
It is becoming abundantly clear that the maturity shown in their decision making is something you would more commonly associate with those in older generations, but Gen Z hold strong beliefs fuelled by information accessible via the internet. Their attitude to health is one. They have lived through economic downswings, so health cover has become particularly important (and extremely marketable) to them. They do seem worried or concerned about the impact technology will have throughout their lifetime, which means health and fitness will be areas they will want to focus on when thinking about sustaining an active lifestyle. Research has revealed that Gen Z are more likely to pay a premium to look after their health than any other current demographic which demonstrates clearly that this presents clear opportunities to play to one of their key characteristics – stability and security.
So, how do we successfully reach out to Generation Z? Well, they continue to make themselves constantly available via their smartphone and instant messaging apps. The perceived downside to that is they apparently have an attention span of just eight seconds, so any messages we do get through need to be short, sharp and immediately to the point. They're not necessarily an impatient bunch but they have a desire to make fast and valuable decisions.
Employers are already starting to get on the front foot, recognising the potential in altering working patterns to fit with the Gen Z workforce. Businesses will look upon these changes as ideal ways to promote loyalty and support, but, beware; like Millennials, organisations must act ethically to attract Gen Z, and this will be mirrored in the way financial companies acquit themselves when trying to meet the needs of this new population.
Is it therefore wise to talk to Gen Z before we develop systems and procedures to meet their needs? We are blessed with so much research on the internet, it feels like we already know everything about them, but wherever our research and ingenuity takes us, at the heart of our energy should be the emotion of the purchaser, and their need to cover certain scenarios.
It's fair to say, not many of them will be purchasing their own properties quite yet, but they will be renting, presenting the financial services industry with a potentially lucrative protection proposition. Will this signal the boon Income Protection needs? Given it is likely that a Gen Z's first job will no longer be a rite of passage into a long-term career with the same employer, (as was the case with many Baby Boomers and some Millennials), in a couple of years' time the career ladder will come calling, as will a higher earning capacity. Protection can play a significant part in providing that 'stability and security' they crave.
So, in summary, what are the key challenges we need to face head on if we want to tap into this future financial powerhouse:
- Their use of multiple media presents a challenge – what is the best way to engage them?
- Does Gen Z know what the insurance industry can offer and how it can help them in the future?
- Security is crucial, so Facebook may not be the platform to engage with them. Gen Z has seen some other generations get burned by social media scandals and identify theft. We must all be able to safeguard sensitive data.
- They will, however, still want to learn about new products via social media. The ability to personalise, streamline and simplify communications with them via quick, visual content in video will be vital.
To round off, here's something you may find startling. Whichever pedestal we choose to put Gen Z on, they have been known to be fully conversant in using a tablet before being able to tie a shoe lace, before being able to swim and even before they are able to tell the time!
Synaptic has recently joined up with COVER Magazine to produce an e-book focussing on innovation in the digital space for protection. To read this visit https://www.synaptic.co.uk/research-and-opinion/blog/cover-and-synaptic-software-join-hands-gaze-future-protection-0
Watch our video illustrating how Generation Z approaches life and their need for financial advice at www.synaptic.co.uk/research-and-opinion/blog/synaptic-guide-generation-z