media update

Founders: Who are they really?

May 10, 2016

There’s a new generation in town; a new group of cool kids. And they are literally kids. Generation Z, or Founders as they have become known, are where marketers need to begin focusing their attention. And it’s important to understand them, says Michelle Jones, head of content at Rogerwilco.

So much of our attention has been focused on millennials. What do they like? What will they buy? And how can we make them want to buy all of the things? It’s been such a massive focus for such a long time that more research has been done about millennials than any other previous generation.

But now our attention, inevitably, has to turn elsewhere. We need to understand this new generation. These are the young people born after 2000. Some of them haven’t even been born yet. And yet they’re already influencing business and marketing. Millennials are seen as the generation which disrupted norms and broke down walls. Now Founders are being tasked with rebuilding, with founding the new world.

What’s in a name?

Earlier this year, MTV asked members of Gen Z to rename themselves. The generation needed a catchy name, an affectionate term which could be used to identify them. More than 1000 teens across the US were surveyed. And they decided they’d like to the dubbed the Founders.

They see themselves as ready to tackle the problems of today, and in their own way. They realise the world faces massive problems of debilitating debt, bleak job prospects and deep cultural chasms. In spite of all this, Founders are optimistic about the future and their role in helping to create it.

“I think our generation is the bridge to a new era — a new idea, a new world, where things that haven’t really been thought of, get thought of,” said one survey participant.

What will they like and what will they be like?

In many ways they are completely different to millennials. As marketers, it is important that we understand these differences. According to Statistics SA figures, approximately 30% of South Africans are Founders and with each new birth that figure is increasing daily.

Like all young people, the Founders will have access to more disposable income than their parents. They are also in a unique position of being able to influence their parents to make purchases for them.

This is a generation which has never known a world without smartphones. These are the children who were placated with phones and tablets rather than dummies and blankies. Their attention spans are short and they communicate in emoji. They will live their lives online; they’ll make decisions based on what they see on influencers’ and friends’ social platforms.

And these aren’t the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram platforms we’ve become used to. It’s important for marketers to get used to new platforms – Snapchat is essential for Founders, video apps Periscope and Boomerang are increasing in popularity, and is the world’s fastest growing social network for music and lifestyle.

Marketers have to “go in and learn the rules of engagement in these new platforms. You need to have fluent cultural experts in each one”, says MTV’s Tom Fishman.

What made them this way?

Founders in South Africa were born into a post-apartheid world. They grew up seeing their parents struggle with a lack of economic opportunities. Their thoughts about the world were influenced by messages of hope and positivity by Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu while at the same time seeing images of volatility and uncertainty.

They watched the struggles of their older siblings who battled for free education and grappled to find jobs. They lived in homes with parents, siblings, grandparents and other members of their extended family. They experienced a changing society with increased acceptance of mixed race families, homosexuality and blurring gender roles.

Founders saw that making traditional choices doesn’t necessarily equal success and happiness. So they’ll choose to make their own decisions, making their own path as they go.

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*This post originally appeared on media update.

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