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Shaping the Next Generation of Innovation

Reaching Gen Z

With events like recessions and data breaches the norm, Gen Z is known for being “hands-on, productive, resourceful, and entrepreneurial,” noted Frog, a global design and innovation firm which is part of Capgemini Invent. Companies are eager to authentically connect with this generation, yet struggle to communicate with them in a more genuine way. As Frog puts it in its blog, “7 Key Truths About Innovating for Generation Z,” to create durable bonds with this next generation, “businesses must develop effective ways to refresh their offerings while building on the vision that they have always embodied.” Frog outlined seven opportunities that businesses can innovate to reach Gen Z.

  1. Don’t focus on making money, focus on saving theirs—Unlike Millennials, who prefer experiences and following dreams over things, Gen Zs would rather spend their money on tangible products and follow financial conservatism.
  2. Cultivate sub-brands that enhance your reputation—Gen Z has a dim view on large corporations, which they view as untrustworthy. Brands that can design a program that gives Gen Z an avenue for self-expression or a tailored experience are key.
  3. Deliver on social impact—Companies should work on incorporating sub-projects into their brand reputation. Brands should carefully pick a few causes that resonate with their customers and align themselves with those causes.
  4. Reflect diversity and inclusion—Inequality is a concern among Gen Z, as are transgender rights and fempowerment, the belief that girls and boys should have equal opportunity. Brands can also create new opportunities by embracing Gen Z groups that feel they’re not being heard or catered to.
  5. Make digital the “how” not the “what”—Gen Zs are more passionate about their friends than technology, so helping them feel connected to friends and family is key. Frog notes that Gen Zs want screens to enhance, not overtake, their lives, and they respond to initiatives where digital complements their physical world.
  6. Embrace and react to failure—Conducive to an entrepreneurial mindset, Gen Zs are fine with failure, as long as they learn something from it. They don’t aspire to perfection but instead desire to demonstrate that they are continually improving.
  7. Become a retail confidant—Gen Z’s actually prefer face-to-face communication, and like when someone is knowledgeable about a product. They want to receive information from authentic individuals and companies. Brands should develop touch points that Gen Z is comfortable with in order to instill confidence and trust in the purchase.

Introducing the Digital Natives

Speaking of new technology, just what is happening with the metaverse? In “Connecting Reality and Technology Through the Metaverse,” All Things Innovation’s Seth Adler caught up with Leslie Shannon, Head of Trend & Innovation Scouting, Nokia, at the FEI conference earlier this year to discuss the metaverse, its evolving status, innovation and all points in between. This follows the publication of Shannon’s new book, Interconnected Realities: How the Metaverse Will Transform Our Relationship with Technology Forever. Shannon has also published another book focused on Gen Z. Co-authored with Catherine Henry, the name of the second book is Virtual Natives.

In addition, in “Gen Z Insights,” All Things Insights’ Seth Adler chats with Heather O’Shea, Global Head of Ad Research and Insights at Snap, to examine just how to approach a Gen Z audience. “Ultimately Gen Z demands a new media plan. The previous ways of thinking in terms of length being a precursor of the efficacy of advertising content should be revisited based on the way they process information and how quickly they can take away ad messages,” says O’Shea.

Shaping Future Innovation

Generation Z is poised to play a significant role in shaping innovation in the future. According to ChatGPT, here are several ways in which Gen Z can contribute to and influence innovation:

  1. Digital Natives and Tech Pioneers: Gen Z is the first generation to grow up entirely in the digital age. Their innate familiarity with technology, social media, and digital platforms positions them as natural innovators in the tech landscape.
  2. Social and Environmental Activism: Gen Z is known for its strong commitment to social and environmental causes. This passion for sustainability and social responsibility can drive innovation in areas such as eco-friendly technologies, sustainable business practices, and products that align with ethical and environmental values.
  3. Collaborative and Inclusive Innovation: Gen Z values collaboration and inclusivity. As they enter the workforce and engage in innovation, they are likely to prioritize diverse perspectives, teamwork, and co-creation.
  4. Demand for Personalization: Gen Z has grown up in an era of personalized experiences, from customized social media feeds to personalized shopping recommendations. This generation’s demand for personalization is likely to drive innovation in personalized products, services, and experiences.
  5. Entrepreneurship and Gig Economy: Gen Z is characterized by an entrepreneurial spirit, and many members of this generation are drawn to the gig economy. This inclination toward self-employment and entrepreneurship can foster innovation by encouraging the development of new business models, platforms, and solutions.
  6. Visual and Experiential Communication: With the rise of visual-centric platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, Gen Z leans toward visual and experiential communication. This preference may influence innovation in augmented reality, virtual reality, and other immersive technologies that enhance communication and storytelling.
  7. Preference for Authenticity and Transparency: Gen Z values authenticity and transparency in brands and organizations. This preference can drive innovation in transparent supply chains, sustainable practices, and the use of technology to provide real-time information and transparency about products and services.
  8. Global Connectivity and Cultural Fusion: Gen Z is globally connected, and its members often identify with a global rather than a strictly national perspective. This interconnectedness can lead to innovations that celebrate cultural diversity, global collaboration, and the blending of cultural influences in various creative fields.

This is Us

As Gen Z continues to mature and become a larger force in the workforce and society, their values, preferences, and unique perspectives are expected to shape the trajectory of innovation across multiple industries. Embracing and understanding these characteristics can be key for organizations looking to remain relevant and responsive to evolving market demands.

As Frog in its blog observes, “Gen Z has become an ‘us against the world’ generation. They have developed unique patterns and behaviors for where they spend their time and money, and where they place their loyalties. They notice when brands represent their best interest, and they notice when brands try to change. To strike a chord with this generation, traditional brands must be honest and authentic. They need to plan wisely how to connect with and be part of this new ‘us.’”

Video courtesy of Time


  • Matt Kramer

    Matthew Kramer is the Digital Editor for All Things Insights & All Things Innovation. He has over 20 years of experience working in publishing and media companies, on a variety of business-to-business publications, websites and trade shows.

    View all posts

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