Is the seeming frustration with Generation Z out of place and counterproductive?

‘Entitled’, ‘anti-social’, ‘lack of respect for others’ and ‘social justice warriors’, are just some of the descriptives that have been used for Generation Z. But are they more disliked than any other generation when they too, were emerging? The existence of social media was amiss when the Millennials or Gen X were evolving, so how do we know they too would not have received animosity from their predecessors. Social media allows people from every corner of the globe to be connected, all the time. Individuals tweet their inner thoughts around the clock; it’s almost like a superpower that allows us to read others’ minds. Every generation is a product of the socio-economic environment they grow up in, so what else can we expect? Focusing on listening and learning about the emerging Gen Zers instead of resenting their emergence is imperative for the success of businesses moving forward. After all, it is estimated that by 2030, the Zoomers will make up a quarter of the world’s population, giving them huge influence over global consumer spending habits and trends.

Generation Z are generally known as being born between 1997 and 2012, which ultimately means the oldest members of this generation are well into their mid-20s, which is why we are seeing a rise in the number of Zoomers entering the workforce annually. Young and new to the world but possessing a lot of opinions whilst expecting a lot from other people and more importantly; businesses. Characterised as the ‘digital-ites’; permanently available on social media, interested in gaming, avid festival-goers, perusing tik-tok, Instagram etc for hours of the day… you name a digital platform or activity, they use it.

It has been suggested that Zoomers, as the children of Generation X, have observed their predecessors experience ‘burnout’, which has affected Zoomers outlook on work and employment. Gen X experienced Boomers hogging top positions in the workforce, as well as depressed salaries as a product of the Great Recession. Understandably and arguably, their generation is seen to have experienced the most economic hardship. Generation X living in a comparatively different world, had a philosophy of working hard and reproducing; idealism was just a word with no real life meaning. Dissimilarly, Zoomers are said to be ‘pickier’ in their work with high employment expectations, especially the need for meaningful work, encouraged employee voice, fair (higher) pay, hybrid working opportunities, work-life balance and their employer being socially and environmentally responsible.

So how are the emerging Zoomer generation’s leisure expectations impacting the Hospitality Industry? Evidence suggests that the Covid-19 pandemic made Millennials and Zoomers ‘throw in the towel’ earlier than expected when it comes to going out to clubs. Generation Z have edged away from clubbing with more attraction to staying in with friends, with less recreational drug taking and drinking. Problematically, it has been suggested that Zoomers correlate pubs with ‘pervy old men’ and since a high percentage of this generation are already ‘teetotal’, this leaves me pondering if there is much attracting them into their local pubs.

Not too long ago, with the Millennials being the major player, we were all witnessing the perfect, instagrammable life. The perfect poached egg, bursting over perfectly sliced avocado on sourdough, held by a flawlessly manicured hand; let’s be honest, we have all seen it. Times have moved on for the Zoomers, they are more interested in an authentic Instagram feed that comes straight from their camera roll, capturing life as it comes and goes. Aiming for a more raw, sincere carousel of pictures that often are captioned a ‘photo dump’, with a hashtag rarely in sight. So, if the Zoomers aren’t looking for the next, new cool place in town that has a pretty flower wall they can pose in front of, what is it they are looking for?

Safe to say, incorporating the latest technology into your customer experience will be extremely helpful in grasping the Zoomers. Investing in fiber optic Wi-Fi opposed to standard wireless networks that can slow during busy periods, can enable Zoomers to stay connected to their friends online whilst also multi-tasking, socialising with those they are actually with. Investing in more resources going into your social media presence is also imperative in luring in the Gen Zers. Facebook, a prehistoric past time that has seen better days, but Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok is where the Zoomers are at. Bars and restaurants can put their younger members of the team in charge of social media, encouraging them to get creative, showing the fun they are having on work breaks on a 10 second TikTok. Demonstrating diversity, work-life balance and the social and environmental awareness as underlying messages of your social media channels is a tactical way to get the attention of Zoomers. Evidence suggests that Zoomers are willing to spend more money in return for supporting a company whose values are aligned with their own, in terms of corporate social responsibility.

In terms of products offered, for a teetotal generation, spending more time on your soft-drink menu by offering some ‘quirky’ drinks outside of the standard diet coke or lemonade options would be a great start. As a global generation, who are socially linked up to the world of food and drink, having some inspired, healthy drinks or smoothies from other countries, or wine from somewhere outside the usual locations could assist in bringing more Zoomers through the doors. Furthermore, offering 2-4-1 deals is more suited for the couple focused Millennials, whereas the friend focused Zoomers are more interested in deals that encourage ‘groups of friends’ through the pub doors.

Research suggests that Zoomers are not wanting to cut their spending on travel experiences, which gives Hoteliers an opportunity they can capitalise on if they can encompass all the Gen Zers are looking for. Interactive TVs, tablets in rooms, phone charging spots readily available in the bar and restaurant is just the beginning. Despite the shift with their Instagram content, that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate inimitable experiences. Visuals that can easily be photographed, like a quirky modern saying in a frame on the wall that rings true to the Zoomers, will get them booking your hotel but also give you free marketing, a win-win, right? Local products and environmentally friendly soaps are key in making the Zoomers at home and itching to return. At the end of the day, Zoomers aren’t desperate to get into all the best clubs and binge drink on a trip away, so investing in a tech-savvy, convenient hotel space will ultimately leave them comfortable spending virtual time with friends and family, all without leaving the hotel premises.

Written by Izzy Mchattie