Believe it or not, most members of the class of 2019 college graduates are not Millennials. The newest group heading into the workforce are members of Generation Z — individuals born between 1995 and 2010. 

While this generation currently ranges in age from 9 to 24 years old, we are starting to learn their general characteristics, media understanding and purchasing decisions as a group. Our understanding of this generation is limited due to their age and parental con-trols, but what do we know about them now? What does this mean for your business and how might this information impact the future?

 Lets take a look.

 Group characteristics

Gen Z is a tolerant, inclusive group that values self-expression. They are independent individuals, who are kind, smart and their friends are very important to them.

They are interested in activism, particularly political and environmental, because they are aware of the threat global warming and the current political climate poses to their futures.

While most Millennials remember 9/11, Gen Z does not, making the 2008 recession their biggest and most memorable event so far in the older half of the group’s lives. They are smart about their money and have an understanding of the importance of saving because they remember their parents being stressed about financial issues. 

Media, social media and online activity

This group has only known a world with cellphones and social media. They are the ultimate multitaskers, regularly watching multiple screens simultaneously thanks to Netflix, smartphones, laptops, tablets and all digital devices. On average, Gen Z spends three hours a day online. 

Because they spend so much time online, mobile friendly websites are a must for businesses. It’s also important to consider the website speed. Gen Z will not use a website if it is too slow, because they will find another option out there that is faster. 

Nearly all of them have their own smart-phone, or access to one, mainly used for social media. This generation loves visual social media content, making YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat their favorite social-media platforms. 

What does this mean for businesses?

Consider creating more video content for social media, such as how-to or product review videos. Gen Z likes content they can feel personally connected to such as a testimonial or vlog (video blog), and their followers will feel connected to as well, making the content “shareable.”

 The video trend on social media is actually beneficial for businesses, because most social-media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, prefer video content over text posts and even photos. Videos will appear higher in the news feed than other types of content because they have higher engagement rates, which platforms prefer to promote. 

In regard to Snapchat, this is a difficult platform for small- to medium-size business-es to form a community with because the bulk of their audience will still be on Facebook. Gen Z typically uses Snapchat as a texting platform with a quick picture of what they are up to. Few Gen Z’ers have a Facebook account, so if this is your target audience, consider an Instagram account. 

In our current media climate of the 24/7 news cycles and fear of “fake news,” Generation Z is cautious to believe news. While we don’t know yet what news they do believe or how they get their news, we do know they take their research and education seriously. 

Purchasing decisions

Because Gen Z loves Instagram and YouTube so much, they see those platforms as trusted sources for product information. They have a hard time trusting brands, which is why they value product reviews and tutorial videos. Influencers are seen as friends, not marketers, making this growing trend expand at a faster rate. 

While Millennials want experiences, Gen Z’ers want physical objects. For a generation that spends a large amount of time online, Gen Z actually prefers to make purchases in a store — followed by Snapchatting about it. 

Today’s children are tomorrow’s adults. As they grow up and begin entering the work-force, we will learn more about this generation and how these characteristics may change. The information we know/can learn about them today will lay the groundwork of understanding them in the future. . Allison Barnes is an account assistant with Leonard & Finco Pubic Relations