Are you listening to and engaging Generation Z

In my previous blog post which was also my first blog post ever, I began my scrub’s analysis of George Beall’s proposed 8 characteristics of Generation Z. I continue with my analysis with his propositions of Generation Z being Super Multi-Taskers and, perhaps, Frivolous. Frivolous, however, is my interpretation of Beall’s nonsense that is headered by the word, Bargain.

I want you to know that it is not my intention to deconstruct Beall himself. But I do bear the burden of being an honest and thoughtful apologist for my generation. Generation Z is much slandered and too often lumped together as bad apples with the Millennials.

Cross-device Fluency and Flexibility AND Peer-Connection and Peer-Sharing

Beall argues that Generation Zers are Better Mutli-Taskers.

Though Gen Z can be less focused than their Millennial counterparts, in school, they will create a document on their school computer, do research on their phone or tablet, while taking notes on a notepad, then finish in front of the TV with a laptop, while face-timing a friend. You get the picture.

Generation Z are not better Multi-Taskers, we are more Fluent and Flexible with a variety of not so smart devices at our disposal: phone, tablet, lap top or desk top computer. That’s a positive. We may also be the most peer connected and peer-sharing generation. That’s valuable insight for marketers. If we dig it, we share it. Often immediately. Like a humble bundle sale with time-sensitive 50% discounts on the games we fan.

The fact that most of our research and homework can be done on a phone, tablet or computer via Google is problematic. It means our teachers think the content on the internets is sufficiently authoritative in the content. This is rarely the case. Or they are encouraging us to seek out scholarly, copyright-infringed content which we can get from shady swashbucklers. Do you really think it’s cool that I stole a copy of St. Augustine’s City of God (Latin text) on the internets for a book review assignment? I’m speaking hypothetically, of course.

Get the picture?

Frivolosity and An Ambiguous Future

Millennials care more about prices than Gen Z. This is arguably because they came of age during the recession.

Did Beall work for Obama? The recession ain’t over until the fat lady sings. Sure, you can define unemployment numbers any which way to make the “haves” consume more wine, buy iPhones accessories on Kickstarter and blog about things that don’t matter, but that just doesn’t change the suffering, malaise and agonies of the “have nots”.

Generation Z is debt adverse where the outcome of the investment is ambiguous such as real estate, higher education, cars and stocks. Of course, Millennials and Generation Zers don’t got as much cash to spend as we’d like, but both generations remain frivolous. We are not fiscally conservative, we are broke. We impulsively spend the little cash we got on the things which delight and entertain us.


High end brands like Porsche, Rolex and Louis Vuitton are above our reach but that doesn’t keep us from getting excited about the $1,700 MTM Special Ops Rad wristwatch with a built in geiger counter. Because, hey, you never know when a nuclear power plant near you could get leaky. Regardless of the unlikely odds of that happening, at least the concept is entertaining.

The insight for marketers is obvious: entertain us. Just like Nirvana’s song, Smells Like Teen Spirit, says it. We’ll come up with cash if you can entertain us or help us cope. We’ll beg, borrow and steal it and the sourcing is not really your problem, right?

Are we frivolous and distracted because the future is uncertain? The grown ups are talking about global warming, corrupt bankers and market manipulations, overpopulation, super viruses, mass migrations of peoples, solar flares, insolubility of national debts, terrorism, et cetera. Then, carpe diem! We gotta live for today because, obviously, the grown ups broke the future.

We are afraid even if we are mostly afraid at a subconscious level. Even if we don’t admit to our fears, our behavior reflects deep fears and misgivings about the world and our future. We feel manipulated, deceived and doomed. We have eyes to see. The Fukashima Leak. Syria. Deutsche Bank. Immigrant Violence. Greece. The Accelerated Extinction of Species. Goldman Sachs. Human Trafficking. The list is immense. Why shouldn’t I be thinking about me?


Last summer, I couldn’t even get a part time job. And Belgium law prevents me from working full time as a minor. How am I supposed to get skills? How am I supposed to save up for the costs of being a university student? And what guarantee do I have that there will be a job for me when I finish university? As Mark Schaefer tells it in his book, Known, and on his blog, getting known and building an online reputation seems like my only chance to succeed in any space and place.

The person with a social media proficiency and a profound digital presence will have the doors open. The person who is known online will have the customer answer the phone. The person who is known will have an advantage in a job interview.

In a world as competitive and unsure as our world is, I don’t blame anyone for plugging into Overwatch. It’s a video game where we get bragging rights for killing each other. We got to steel ourselves for this future that previous generations have made for us. The future is coming on.

Brands pursuing a return on relationship (#RonR) with Generation Z can be relevant As Ted Rubin might ask, are brands able to listen and engage with my generation (or our influencers)? If and only if, they can negotiate and compete with memes that travel light and quick across digital devices and communities. The language of Generation Z is problematic for brands, however, because it draws on diverse images and icons which often represent jealously guarded IP or, worse, taboos of multiculturalism, political correctness and other ideologies.


I’ll continue to flush out the remainder of Beall’s questionable description of Generation Z. Meanwhile, if you appreciated my effort here, I would be grateful for your likes, comments and shares for this post. Quid pro quo.

In the meantime, if you want to immerse yourself into a Generation Z narrative, check out the first episode of my short story series, I, Von Leyen.

Thank you and please make today count for us all. Even if it’s just sharing a stranger’s blog post with your peoples. Or buying a homeless person a 2 liter bottle of beer and a fat sandwich.

Veni, vidi, vici.
Liam deTroch



3 thoughts on “Are you listening to and engaging Generation Z

  1. Thanks for the mention Liam.

    If I had one piece of advice to give marketers, it would be this: Millennials, GenZ and future generations are not a new species. Keep that in mind the next time someone tells you they have the “secret” of marketing to Millennials, Gen Z, or whatever generation comes next.

    There’s no “secret,” other than learning how to communicate better. The younger generations still have largely the same wants, needs, and dreams as those who came before. Granted, Millennials and GenZ are likely to adopt new tech, crowd-source reviews to shop for products, cut cords, and embrace social media, but all of these habits are a reflection of the environment, rather than the generation. If you’re involved in the business world – or just the world in general – you probably share many of the same habits.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Mr. Rubin! Your quick comment took me by happy surprise.

      I will think more about your proposition that Millenials and Generation Z are defined more by their youth, environment. and history.

      Obviously, our attitudes to what’s going on do control our behavior and expectations.


  2. Let me start by saying that your writing is excellent: succinct, clear, and compelling. That already places you ahead of the pack, if you ask me. Keep it up!

    So, we keep returning to the notion of being adept at multitasking. Certainly, broad strokes serve no one but you also have to realize that it is relative. When I started my career well over 20 years ago, focusing on the task at hand was the expectation companies had. The extent of multitasking was delegating and responding to requests in a timely manner while you completed the mission critical and top priority tasks first. Working in parallel was sneered upon; in fact, even though I always completed my work on time and with high quality, higher-ups often complained if I did not babysit them.

    Nowadays, multitasking is more widely embraced and perhaps expected. As Ted pointed out, it’s more about the environment but that’s just it: what is known, how you are nurtured, develops who you are. As such, it is fair to say that Generation Z and even the younger millenials are indeed pre-disposed to being more adept at multitasking.

    If you subscribe to the principles conveyed in “Who Moved My Cheese?”, you know that adapting to change is crucial but no one truly rewrites who they are. There are work habits and comfort zones that we always fall back to when the pressure is on. It’s important to recognize that and own it so you can play up your strengths.

    Personally, I do a lot of multitasking but, if I am focused on a task, I minimize distractions and do find myself frustrated at times when I am interrupted. That’s a point my wife and I bump heads about because I believe there are certain things that require undivided attention. For example, driving. Many think they can multitask while driving but it’s been scientifically proven that messing with your radio, talking on the phone, texting, and other distractions lowers your reaction time and alertness. Just don’t tell my wife that. 😉

    Wants and needs are definitely determined by environment, but the path and values that drive us towards those end goals are different. I do believe that has a lot to do with what you grew up around. In short, generational gaps do exist but they’re not universal nor are they as black-and-white as some may think.

    I also agree that we are far from in the clear with the global economic crisis. It’s a scary thing to consider how, if any major bank or car manufacturer goes under, they’ll take down several countries and companies with them. That’s why the bail-outs keep happening.

    If you want to future-proof yourself, I see SCM (Supply Chain Management) and Logistics as true growth sectors. Everyone keeps talking about the Internet of things and many economies are heavy on consumerism. That means getting those things to the right places at the right time in the right condition becomes increasingly more important. Automation will remove the need for some jobs but there will always be a place for human beings. You need checks and balances, after all.

    But I digress… I was speaking with Stan and perhaps we can do a round table discussion on generational gaps. It’d be great to get a young person’s perspective to offset our old fart thoughts. Maybe we can do a podcast soon? 8)

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s