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Communicating with Gen Z


We have written about communicating across the generations on You may be wondering, what defines each generation. No hard and fast rules exist to define a cohort especially as we look at Generation Z. Pew suggests that it is time to define Generation Z as those born after 1996. Pew places Millennials as those born from 1981 to 1996, Generation X as born between 1965 to 1980 and Baby Boomers as 1946 to 1964. In general, a cohort is defined by common experiences. Today, we will dive into more depth on the youngest cohort, Generation Z.

One element you may want to consider is that any time you draw a circle and make a generalization, you will find some members of a cohort are closer in behavior to another cohort than to members in their own group. Generalizations are just that… general. However, we know that we cannot take each person as unique. We would easily be overwhelmed if we did that. Cohorts give us a good place to begin to communicate. Each generation has experienced a different world in terms of how to communicate.  

Generation Z Defined

Generation Z exhibits many of the same characteristics as Millennials. Millennials were more diverse than previous generations. Generation Z are more diverse still. In addition, more Gen Z are enrolling in college. Generation Z grew up with fast internet, instant communication and the ability to talk to their devices.

Generation Z and Covid-19

We seem to be waiting for the other shoe to drop on the impact of Covid-19. Covid-19 changed the world for Gen Zers, in all kinds of ways such as education, friendships, social interaction, earning money, sense of safety, ability to read nonverbal communication. The list goes on and on. We do know that Gen Z are looking into an uncertain future. In the early days of Covid-19, half of Gen Z who were 18 to 23 knew someone who lost a job or took a pay cut. This was a lot higher than the other cohorts. For millennials, 40% stated they knew someone, for Gen Xers, 36%, and Baby Boomers 25%.

Communicating with Gen Z

What do we know about communicating with Gen Zers? In some ways Gen Zers show similarities to Millennials. Both cohorts grew up with technology. They grew up with smart phones. Today, 95% of teens have access to a smart phone. They report using YouTube and SnapChat more frequently than other social media. In terms of communication, Snapchat allows Gen Zers the opportunity to communicate in a fleeting manner. For personal communications, you may want to consider using Snapchat.

However, in the workplace and in education, Gen Z prefer face-to-face communication. It may be that they believe they will come across as more professional in face-to-face meetings. They may also believe that they can understand more about what the manager wants in a face-to-face setting. They are used to communicating using acronyms and abbreviations. A lot can be lost in text only communication. Gen Zers seem to understand that they need to meet in person for business.

In addition, Gen Zers want honest feedback. Gen Zers willingly share with the public their views on products, brands, world events and more. They want to be heard. They both give and want feedback. In the book, Zconomy, the researchers suggest that they want honest feedback.

Gen Z and Direct Selling

What does all this mean for direct selling? The Direct Selling Association survey from 2020 states that around 6% of direct sellers in the US are under age 25.

Direct selling may provide one source of revenue for Gen Zers because they love flexibility. In addition, the insecurity that occurred for Gen Zers during Covid makes the extra income a nice benefit of direct selling. Companies need to think about how Gen Zers like to communicate, including that connecting through social media will continue to grow.

In conclusion, Gen Z youth are a key target audience joining the workforce in the next few years. Learning how Generation Z individuals communicate and what their shared life experiences has been (living through the COVID-19 pandemic, etc.) can help a direct selling company better understand and market to their Gen Z audience. This in turn can encourage Gen Zers to join in on the direct selling market, boosting direct selling participation and profitability.

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