How Gen Z is changing today’s businesses and marketing strategies


We interviewed 26 senior marketing executives to hear how Generation Z is changing their businesses and marketing strategies today.

By Joeri Van den Bergh co-founder, partner and NextGen expert and Katia Pallini, content impact manager at InSites Consulting

Seven years ago, Instagram was just born and Snapchat did not even exist. Full-electric cars were nothing but a nice concept and we probably would have frowned upon the idea of Amazon delivering goods with drones 30 minutes after being ordered.

It’s clear that, since publishing the first 2011 edition of How Cool Brands Stay Hot, a book on marketing and branding towards young generations, the world did not stand still. Generation Z (born 1997-2012) is growing up fast in an even faster changing world. What are the opportunities and challenges for brands?

A more fragile world

Gen Zers grew up in times of technological (r)evolution, with the increasing digitalisation resulting in boundless connectedness and social taking a whole new dimension. They are the first generation for whom the online world truly complements and sometimes even overtakes their offline existence.

Lifecasting is part of Gen Z’s everyday chores; broadcasting everything they do (on a multitude of social networks) to ultimately craft their social identities. They are a generation of multitaskers with devices becoming their arms’ extension, making them always-on, always connected. This infinite connectedness not only led to the democratisation of information, it also resulted in information reaching people at the speed of light. This is the first generation that is so connected early on.

“An 8-year-old today, knows as much as a 12-year-old ten years ago and a 12-year-old today probably knows as much as a 16-year-old ten years ago.” – Kurt Frenier, vice president of GM portfolio transformation at PepsiCo Beverages.

Yet there is a flipside to this all: it makes them more than aware of the unstable and turbulent world surrounding them. This is a generation growing up in times of fragility on an economic, environmental and political level. This has shaped NextGen into down-to-earth realists, unlike older Millennials who were dreamers raised with a you can do anything mentality.

Family 2.0

The fragility is also visible inside the home with fractured and complex household compositions. NextGen is the first generation where divorced parents and new household structures are the new normal. The classic mother-and-father set-up is challenged by modern times and makes room for same-sex marriages, multi-generation compositions or single parent structures.


Joeri will be visiting Sydney soon, date TBC.


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