As a country, we have historically named our generational cohorts – the Greatest Generation bore the Baby Boomers, which gave way to Gen X and millennials. But what to call the subsequent cohort, born between 1996 and today? Although there were multiple contenders for the definitive name, “Gen Z” is the current winner.
These are other contenders but none have stuck quite like “Gen Z.”
iGen: The proliferation of mobile devices has defined the world for today’s kids and young adults. The i-everything generation is a possible name but hasn’t gained the traction of Gen Z in the media’s view.
Homeland Generation: Members of “Gen Z” were either small children or not yet born by 9/11. The “Homeland Generation” designation might have defined the cohort born around this time, but it assigns a provincialism perhaps true for their parents but not for them. In fact, one of the key differentiators of Gen Z is that they do not remember 9/11. For them, the terrorist event in New York City has always been history.
Post-Millennial: Suggested by the U.S. government, this title, although accurate, simply never caught on. Not only was it not too catchy, but it also had a post-apocalyptic feel—as if the world was suddenly completely different after Millennials. While this may be true (!), the broader strokes are much more complicated and nuanced.
Gen Z: In the end, we have settled on “Generation Z,” or, simply “Gen Z,“ to title if not group together the current and emerging characteristics, trends, and behaviors that collectively help to define and create conversational currency around a generation that does not think wifi on airplanes is new or different but rather always expected—and that is should be faster.
As generational marketers, Gen Z and Millennial researchers, and the cohort’s own members alike have learned, Gen Z clearly has different characteristics, worldview, and overall trajectory than their Millennial predecessors.
While Gen Z continues to emerge, it will be exciting to continue to see and research how they step into adulthood and impact the workplace, marketplace, and the world.
For more on this emerging generation, explore our original research here! Join the conversation on Twitter at @JasonDorsey or @WhatTheGen and don’t forget to add your #generation!