Generation Z, the first generation born in the 21st century, is being shaped by a world at risk. They were born into global terrorism, the Great Recession, social inequality, climate change and, too often in the United States, living in a single-parent household. Their combined experiences have made them fiscally conservative, socially tolerant, environmentally aware and urgently engaged.
This is the generation that will collaborate among themselves to demand sustainable solutions from businesses and government using their buying power and votes. Their collective procurement of sustainable solutions, along with their entrepreneurial pursuits, will reshape the world’s economy. They will be the generation that realizes a global Green Economic Revolution by making corporate social responsibility (CSR) a core criteria in deciding what to buy and who to buy from.
As a reminder: Generation Z is the first generation born in the 21st century. Their ages range from 2 to 19, and they represent about 25 percent of the U.S. population. Today they have approximately $44 billion in annual buying power. If businesses and governments thought they had to change to adapt to millennials, then they should appreciate this: Gen Z is already working to change their world.
Generation Z’s behaviors are shaped by their digital devices and social media. This is the generation with the Internet in their pocket! Key metrics include:
They are also highly entrepreneurial with a strong sense of urgency. Pioneering members of this generation are already starting businesses. While the millennial generation was focused on getting a college education to secure a good job, Generation Z plans to take entrepreneurial action to control their own destiny.
This generation questions ownership of things. They ask: Why buy something when access is the desired goal? Their economics is shaped by downloading, renting or sharing. Their procurement path will be a crowdsourcing process that relies on the experiences of others in their generation drawn from around the world.
Generation Z views corporate social responsibility as a core brand identifier for products and businesses. This generation rejects gender, ethnic, or sexual-preference intolerance and discrimination. They expect businesses to deploy green supply chains that prudently use resources to limit environmental and human-health impacts. They expect the products they buy, rent or share to align value with values. These expectations will be global. A business that does wrong on the other side of the world will be exposed via social media through Generation Z’s global connectivity and aligned values. CSR will be this generation’s foundation for evaluating what companies they will work for and do business with.
This exclusive interview conducted at the Sustainable Brands 2015 conference is a must-watch, three-minute video on how Generation Z has started down the path of reshaping the world -- and your business opportunities.
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Bill Roth is a cleantech business pioneer having led teams that developed the first hydrogen fueled Prius and a utility scale, non-thermal solar power plant. Using his CEO and senior officer experiences, Roth has coached hundreds of CEOs and business owners on how to develop and implement projects that win customers and cut costs while reducing environmental impacts. As a professional economist, Roth has written numerous books including his best selling The Secret Green Sauce (available on Amazon) that profiles proven sustainable best practices in pricing, marketing and operations. His most recent book, The Boomer Generation Diet (available on Amazon) profiles his humorous personal story on how he used sustainable best practices to lose 40 pounds and still enjoy Happy Hour!