Generation Z consumer
Gen Z’s shopping tastes are distinct from Millennials’

If you’re a 21st-century business, the buying preferences of Millennials (also known as Gen Y, born between 1981-1996, according to the Pew Research Center) are most likely known to you.

Millennials, by this point, are well-known for preferring to invest in experiences over traditional purchases. They initiated the sharing economy, as a result of being debt-burdened by expensive university degrees, while delaying home-buying, marriage and parenthood that were the traditional adult milestones of earlier generations.

But how much do you know about the shopping habits of Generation Z (also known as Gen Z, iGen or Homelanders, born after 1997)… whose 2020 purchasing power has been estimated at over 140 billion dollars?

The fact is, Gen Z, are not parting with their cash in the same ways as Gen Y, and their distinct characteristics and preferences, and these deserve and demand to be acknowledged in turn.

For one thing, as identified by cloud-based CRM company Salesforce, Gen Z are less willing to pay extra for higher customer service. It’s important, but not so important to the Zs as it is to the Millennials.

For another, Gen Z are MORE demanding than Millennials when it comes to true innovation. Gen Y definitely supports products that are unique, disruptive and break the mould – but Gen Z has an even higher standard of what that looks like. Again, unsurprising – these are the guys who grew up with YouTube and Netflix and can’t remember a time before smart devices and the internet, whereas older members of Gen Y can still remember pre-cellular phones and analogue video players.

Also… cynical Gen Z individuals don’t trust brands easily. They can smell hype and manipulation a mile away. Just because your company SAYS it does something or has a worthy mission, doesn’t mean they’ll believe you that quickly. Earning their trust as customers means the value you say you offer had better be demonstrable in practice. Because Gen Z are more cynical pragmatists than idealistic optimists, like their Millennial predecessors.

Having said that, Gen Z take Millennials’ social concern to a whole new level. To win Gen Z loyalty as customers, a brand will rise and fall on its integrity, its willingness to support diversity and in approaching its potential generation Z clients as individuals, and not, as Millennials prefer, as a creative tribe.

More consuming differences include Gen Z’s frugal, budget-conscious mindset, their opting for in-store over online purchases (so they can be sure they’re buying a value-for-money product) and their preference for influencers who are ‘real’ people, not necessarily celebrities.

A final thought on Gen Z consumers: getting to the point. When it comes to selling to these digital natives, it’s even more important than it is for Millennial customers. Gen Z’s attention span is 8 seconds (versus Millennials’ 12 seconds), so elaborate, glossy ad campaigns are less likely to engage them.

To re-cap: understanding how Gen Z want you to interact with them – whether you are a service or product provider, or their educator, mentor or employer – will be key if you want to engage effectively with this enterprising and independent generation.

Learn more about my mentoring services here and here.

GenZ young person

Digital natives, anxious, money-conscious. Private, diversity-oriented, crisis-aware.

These are all words that could describe Generation Z, also known as Gen Z, iGen or Homelanders, born after 1997, according to the Pew Research Center.

While much of this blog is dedicated to Generation Y, aka Millennials, (born between 1981-96), the conversation in work culture, Human Resources and Management circles has become increasingly about Gen Z as well. Which makes sense when you consider that members of this generational cohort are entering the job market, bringing with them their own distinct values, traits, preferences and fears.

But beyond a fresh presence to consider in the educational and professional context, who are Gen Z, really?

One answer for those of us who are parents, teachers, recruiters and managers, is that Gen Z are today’s teens, students and young adults. In other words… individuals preparing for, or beginning the journey of life beyond the boundaries of school, and navigating the countdown or entry into adult life. Unlike Millennials, Gen Z do not remember a world without the internet and are dependent on their smart devices to be able to feel safe and capable of navigating their world.

The longer answer, according to veteran youth mentor and author Tim Elmore, is that they are young people whose characteristics include:

  1. Chronic sleeplessness
  2. Raised anxiety and depression
  3. Poorer memories
  4. Diminished attention spans
  5. Increased impulsive behaviour

And who could blame them? They have been born into a world facing a multitude of escalating global crises, from climate change to international acts of terrorism, all while the relentless 24/7 cycle of social media distracts, confuses and undermines their mental health and self-esteem.

They’ve also watched Millennials struggle with debt and unemployment and are far less willing to take on student loans – even if it means bypassing university studies, and unlike Gen Y, Gen Z are hiding, not sharing information, in the form of short-lived Snapchat posts and carefully curated, fake Instagram or ‘finsta’ accounts.

Gen Z are also more individualistic and guarded than their team-loving, collaboration-friendly Millennial predecessors. The open-plan Gen Y offices don’t suit Gen Z – they want their own, clearly delineated work areas with effective boundaries for privacy.

But similar to Millennials, their ease with technology means they are at home multitasking on several devices at once (although their person-to-person communication skills are definitely in need of a boost).

Nevertheless, like the optimistically disruptive Gen Y, Generation Z are also entrepreneurial and want to play a role in tackling the problems threatening to overwhelm the planet (environmental activist Greta Thunberg is a member of Gen Z). And they’re hungry for mentoring and supportive leadership from adults – whether at school, college (if they take the financial decision to attend) or in the workplace.

Keeping Gen Z engaged, motivated and on track as parents, educators and employers is therefore a considerable puzzle and challenge… but one definitely worth tackling as these talented young people step into the picture.

Ultimately, on their young shoulders rests the fate of our species, and our survival in a future where much is changing rapidly and is unknown.

I will continue to explore Gen Z’s unique traits and perspective in future posts, but for now, I firmly believe it is our duty to support and not obstruct this generation in expressing their highest potential, and join with them to face the global challenges that have marked their coming of age.

Learn more about my teen mentoring services here.

Remember your early twenties? I remember mine.

With a university degree under my belt and inspired by the relationships I had cultivated with both fellow students and professors, I was full of passion (still am), optimism and self-belief, and gripped by the absolute conviction that focus, discipline and clear goals were all I needed for success.

Today, hand on my heart, I still believe in those principles as crucial to professional and personal growth and achievement…

However, like all of us as we acquire real-life observations and experiences, I’ve evolved my views over time. Especially when it comes to getting young people ready for the 21st century workplace.

These days, the words on everyone’s lips are ‘disruption’, ‘automation’ and ‘Artificial Intelligence’, as well as ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

In other words, a tsunami of relentless, escalating and no-guarantees change on every level – from technological to financial to professional.

Here are a few more words: ‘unemployment’ and ‘Generation Z’.

Gen Z are the newest cohort to be showing up at hiring interviews, following on the heels of the famously entrepreneurial ‘Millennials’ or Gen Y, having been born after 1995.

More risk-averse, conservative and privacy-loving than Millennials, Gen Z have never known a pre-internet world, and they are the true digital natives.

However… my takeaways in mentoring these young people, either during the FEARLESS self-development workshops I lead, or the one-on-one mentoring I undertake throughout the year, is that most Gen Z teens are still VERY under-prepared for the skills expected in today’s workplace.

According to professional networking platform LinkedIn, the top five HARD skills that companies need most in 2019 are:

  1. Cloud computing
  2. Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)
  3. Analytical reasoning
  4. People management
  5. UX design

What about 2019’s top five most-desirable soft skills? LinkedIn tells us they are:

  1. Creativity
  2. Persuasion
  3. Collaboration
  4. Adaptability
  5. Time management

But I think that beyond hard and soft skills… there are timeless LIFE skills which new Gen Z workforce members need to know and implement, in order to become a truly FEARLESS generation.

And these are:

  1. Cognitive flexibility (the ability to switch between thinking about two different concepts, or think about multiple concepts simultaneously)
  2. Problem solving (finding solutions to difficult or complex issues)
  3. Critical thinking (competently analysing facts to form judgments)
  4. Goal-setting and execution (the development of an action plan to motivate individuals or groups to materialise a target or achieve a pre-determined milestone)
  5. Resilience (the ability to cope with a crisis or failure, or minimise the impact of stressors or pressure)

These are the game-changer skills that people of all ages would do well to learn… and they are PARTICULARLY crucial to Gen Z, who, unlike previous generations, will have managed their home, school and social lives almost exclusively via smartphones and apps, without having had the independent opportunity to cultivate and practise the life skills listed above.

They say time waits for no man (or woman), and that is especially true today, with exponential disruption occurring across almost every industry and profession.

And for every generation still represented in the workplace – and most particularly for Gen Z hires – displaying cognitive flexibility, problem solving, critical thinking, goal-setting and resilience – are only going to grow in desirability in the years ahead.

Which is why, helping young people acquire these skills, so they become as natural as brushing teeth or riding a bike, is ultimately part of my personal mission in helping create (and grow!) a truly FEARLESS generation.

For one-on-one mentoring to transform your teen’s communication, leadership, self-management and long-term employability potential, please check out the FEARLESS track of my services by clicking here.

They come in all shapes and sizes. And they can strike at any age.


Many of us will have had the experience of being targeted by more dominant types at school or in the workplace – or even in the family.

But chances are all of us will at least know someone who has been bullied, and it’s a traumatic experience which can leave a victim scarred for life.

So what can you do if you’re being bullied?

First of all, let’s talk about what bullying is in a bit more detail.

Bullying is unwarranted, undeserved aggression that is targeted at a victim whom the bully perceives to be weaker than themselves.

In the mentoring work that I do with young people especially… the confidence and self-esteem problems I see, bullying is often a contributing factor, with more dominant peers at school or on the sports field pushing them around, harassing and demeaning them.

But being bullied by uncooperative, toxic and narcissistic colleagues and superiors also features in the background of some of the young professionals I have coached as well. And the experiences here are being undermined at meetings, sabotaged in work and backstabbed behind the scenes.

All of which just goes to show that bullying can destroy a person’s confidence and self-worth at any point in life, and it’s wise to know effective ways of responding.

  1. Don’t make yourself a target in the first place.

Even if you don’t feel you naturally are a confident or assertive person, it’s never too early to start learning how to project a calm demeanour with authority.

If these are not traits that come naturally to you, rest assured, they can be cultivated and mentored to grow, whether you’re at school or in a workplace cubicle.

Remember, bullies are instinctively drawn to those who appear weaker and less dominant, whom they can then manipulate, threaten and isolate. Put forward a confident public persona, and the would-be bully will quickly decide you’d be too much trouble to go after.

  1. If you are being bullied, get allies’ support as quickly as possible.

The bully loves it if you feel isolated enough to stop connecting with friends or would-be allies. They want you to feel that no one else is going to want to stick up for you or support you. But this simply isn’t true and you mustn’t allow yourself to fall in to the trap of believing it.

Even something as simple as finding someone to walk with along the corridors to get to your next class, or sitting next to someone you feel is on your side in meetings, or share lunch with, can be enough to signal to the bully that ‘you are not alone’ and that picking on you will have consequences.

  1. Tell someone in authority about what’s happening to you.

Bullying victims often feel that even if they tell someone of the abuse they are suffering, they won’t be believed. Perhaps they believe this because the bully is someone already in a position of authority or connected to influential protectors.

But there is always someone also of influence to turn to – even if they’re not immediately connected with the environment where the bullying is taking place.

Ordinarily, you’d tell your parents, teachers or manager if you were experiencing bullying – but if for some reason you felt you couldn’t, even reaching out to a more confident peer (see point Number 2 above) or a mentor, coach or counsellor, would begin the process of reclaiming your mental and personal wellbeing.

Remember, the bully wants you to feel isolated and without any recourse to standing up for yourself

  1. If you know someone is being bullied, stand up for them, too.

Humans have always sought each other’s solidarity in times of danger. And it’s very true that safety lies in numbers.

We may not have marauding armies invading our territory, or savage animals threatening our tribe, but in the end, that instinct to band together for protection, remains ageless.

There will always be people who test us, and aggressively try to knock down our boundaries, or destroy our self-esteem. Why they do so is a different matter, because there are all kinds of contributing factors to make someone a bully.

The important thing is to ensure you or someone you know, doesn’t become, or stay, their victim.

Because you deserve to live an inspired life, free of bullies and filled with enthusiastic collaborators, trusted confidantes and loyal friends.

To learn how we can work together to unlock your or your teen’s confidence, personal power and self-worth, check out the FEARLESS and LIMITLESS tracks on my website,

You may have heard of ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

Following on the heels of the First Industrial Revolution (water and steam), the Second Industrial Revolution (electricity), the Third Industrial Revolution (automation, the internet and mass production), the Fourth Industrial Revolution is about the disruption of cyber-physical systems.

It’s been setting off serious discussions at the highest policymaking levels, including at the World Economic Forum, as well as the business schools and sociology departments of universities, irrespective of borders.

International panels of sociology experts, academics, researchers, business executives, bankers, financiers and politicians have analysed the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s significance, with buzzwords including “artificial intelligence”, “driverless cars”, “brain enhancements” “robotics”, “internet of things”, “3D printing” and “gene editing”.

While these sound impressive – and they are – there’s another word that keeps coming up, too.

And that’s ‘employability’.

To keep up with the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s relentless technological changes, not to mention the disruption to the ways we do business…

New school and university graduates, young professionals (and their managers) are having to embrace a mind-set of constant learning just to be able to stay viable in the 21st-century workplace.

And the skills that make a young person employable in this fast-evolving, uncertain time, are continuing to diverge from what students are taught by traditional curricula in the classroom or lecture hall.

In fact, the World Economic Forum suggests that 65% of children entering primary school today will end up working in jobs that do not exist yet.

So what are the new aptitudes that will be needed for the brave new world we are all having to navigate?

According to the World Economic Forum, the top 10 skills that will be necessary for new graduates and young professionals to demonstrate, and for company managers and Human Resource officers to cultivate and target over the next few years, are:

  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Critical Thinking
  • Creativity
  • People management
  • Coordinating with Others
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Judgement and Decision Making
  • Service Orientation
  • Negotiation
  • Cognitive Flexibility

(And if you want more details on each of these, I have a free infographic you can download here).

In other words, mastering evolving ‘soft skills’ is more vital than ever, and a focus on the purely technical side of aptitudes is not nearly enough to equip the generations entering or collaborating in the workplace.

Or, as the futurist and philosopher Alvin Toffler has put it: “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”.

Of course, technology and the tsunami of online learning opportunities over recent years have made ongoing education more accessible and available than ever before.

Digital literacy has unleashed a new democracy in growing and continually adding to our knowledge base.

Nevertheless, mastering vital human-to-human interactions is still the domain of a dedicated, hands-on mentor.

And, from where I’m standing, such a role may just turn out to be timeless.

To learn more about my one-on-one coaching and tailored workshops for youth, young professionals and corporate teams, please check out the FEARLESS, LIMITLESS and EVOLUTION tracks of my website.