Brentwood, TN—While the jewelry industry is still trying to puzzle out how to attract Millennials, the next generational cohort—dubbed Generation Z—is entering adulthood and becoming potential jewelry customers. Different demographers peg the start of this next generational cohort anywhere from the mid-1990s onward, encompassing the college graduation class of 2017. By 2020, about one-third of the U.S. population will be Gen-Z.
Whether you’re looking to hire seasonal help for the holidays or hoping a younger employee will attract younger customers, it helps to know a bit about Generation Z in your search. They’re not just younger Millennials, their collective life experiences make them quite different in many ways.
New research from recruiting software developer iCIMS and reported in HR Daily Advisor, has identified key traits of Gen-Z. These include being realistic, grounded, conscientious, strong, flexible, pragmatic, resilient, educated, innovative, rational, global, sturdy, and diligent. All, of course, very positive characteristics in prospective employees. But whereas Millennials grew up coddled by Boomers in generally prosperous times, Gen-Z’s skeptical Gen-X parents lost up to 45% of their median net worth during the Great Recession, making Gen-Z a lot more realistic.
They are extremely social, drivers of social media, and it goes without saying they’re high-tech. Millennials, after all, still remember quaint flip-phones and dial-up Internet from their childhood. Gen-Z’s first phone likely was an iPhone, and their attention span makes Millennials seem downright patient. They’re also expert multi-taskers (even multi-multi-taskers), far better than even Millennials. But where Millennials will share every detail no matter how menial, Gen-Z are more focused on safety and security and more calculated and selective about what they share online. They’re more into Snapchat because it has a limited lifespan online, as opposed to Twitter and Facebook posts, which live forever online.
According to the iCIMS study, this new entry-level workforce was most likely to have majored in business/finance or STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields in college. The most popular industries they’d like to work in, not surprisingly, are business/finance and STEM as well—but also communications.
That said, however, 81% of college seniors surveyed before graduation last year said they’d work in a field unrelated to their major, and 82% of recruiters have hired employees whose degrees were unrelated to the industry they’re hiring for. It’s also worth noting that 81% of hiring managers and recruiters said they screen out candidates without a college degree. (For jewelers, this could be an applicant pool to tap if the job you have can be trained in-house and doesn’t require a college degree; read more about that here.)
The graduates of 2017 are continuing the global trend toward urbanization; they generally prefer to flock to major metro areas, with New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco topping the list.
More than half expect a starting salary above $50,000, but the survey says reality is a little cheaper: the average starting salary for a recent college graduate is $45,361.
The age-old entry-level employee conundrum continues: companies want experienced candidates but how does a candidate get experience if nobody will hire them without it? The answer lies in internships. The survey shows those are valuable to both employer and employee; in fact, almost all recruiters surveyed (98%) say entry-level workers need an internship to be considered, and 70% of recruiters value the internship performance more than the GPA.
In terms of the Gen-Z customer, they’re very demanding and impatient online. This report pegs their average attention span at eight seconds, which means they will move on from slow or hard-to-navigate online experiences before you can say “slow or hard to navigate.”
That said, a study by the National Retail Federation found that 98% of Gen-Z still prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar stores. 67% said they shop in physical stores “most of the time” and 31% said they shop in-store at least some of the time.
Brands and retailers will need to create more interactive engagement around their brands to serve this always-on, mobile-focused, and high-spending demographic. 74% of Gen-Z respondents spend their free time online, which means the degree to which in-store sales are influenced by digital is only going to grow and grow.
Of course, Gen-Z consumers share some similarities with Millennials, and foremost among those is social conscience. Gen –Z seems to genuinely care about where their money goes, about transparency in sourcing, and about authenticity and whether a company does what it says it’s going to do.
Top image: digiday.com