The Rise of Generation Z or iGen

iGEN.pngWhere has time gone? Generation Z is now the largest population group in the United States and has the greatest amount of disposable income. They are quickly becoming the new movers and shakers, while many are still focused on figuring out the Millennials.

This new generation is made up of an interesting mix of ideals since some of their parents are Gen Xers and others are Millennials. The first portion of the group (mid 90’s) grew up during the Great Recession with 9/11 driven security issues being a major factor in society. They are also the first group of individuals to be raised in a ubiquitous Internet society with 40% admitting to their smartphone addiction.

This unique positioning of the Internet in their lives has given rise to some calling the generation: iGen. They are also known as Post-Millennial, Homeland Generation, Plurals, The Founders, etc. The names come from published white papers in the advertising and marketing industry. It typically takes several years of observation for the group name to solidify, and since Gen Z started around 1996 and is still being birthed today, the final labels won’t lock in for some time.

Twitter and Instagram are their go to apps with Snapchat and Periscope following close behind. Gen Z does use Facebook, but only because they feel a commitment to community and that’s the place where most people hang out. With that said, it’s important to note that Gen Z enjoys following everyone’s shares, but rarely shares their own information. They prefer to keep things private.

In the U.S., 55% of Gen Z are non-Hispanic Caucasians, 24% are Hispanic, 14% African American, 4% are Asian, and 4% Multiracial or Other. As a group they are very diverse in their acceptance and prefer authenticity to polished imagery. They are opposed to “photoshopped” pictures, preferring real life imperfections.

The most important factor concerning Gen Z is their need for stability, something the millennial generation upset with its ever-changing community views on what’s right and wrong. In an attempt to stabilize their lives, Gen Z has become highly educated through Internet based self-education.

Gen Z is fiscally moderate to conservative. They fear huge college loans and many are jumping directly into the workforce to avoid debt. They seek stable jobs filled with purpose, where they can make a difference in society. They believe in continuing education, but not through the school system.

The workplace is becoming more complex because the things and processes that company’s finally figured out would work for Millennials does not work for Gen Z. Due to Gen X and Millennials parenting styles, leaving much of life for Gen Z to figure out on their own, Gen Z are quickly becoming more entrepreneurial. This trend leads to more start up boutiques that will function globally in order to survive. Gen Z’s Internet savvy will empower small global companies to pop up anywhere.

Bonds will develop between the boutique businesses to act like a large corporation on important projects. Gen Z’s drive for purpose and making a difference will give churches the opportunity to define purpose and help Gen Z’s to apply it in life. But if churches don’t fulfill the need, politicians will step up and gain political leverage by defining purpose.

The oldest of Gen Z turned 21 this year and is ready to make a difference in his or her workplace. They are also poised to impact our communities with a new perspective and purpose. The one thing we can count on is that the formal direction the generation will take will not be in keeping with the Millennials’ dreams or perspective.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

Gen Z Pushes Millennials Aside

Gen_ZChurches and Independent Filmmakers are now realizing they are late in gearing their presentations to the taste and needs of the Millennials. Both groups, which at one time drove our society, are playing catch up in shifting their attention to the next generation. Unfortunately, it’s too late.

Generation Z is now positioned to drive our society forward. They are a bigger group than the Millennials and the remaining Baby Boomers. They are currently the largest population group with the most disposable income at $40B annually.

In the church world, the structure or format of services is still geared toward Gen X. In the independent film world the movies are geared toward Baby Boomers. That’s not to say a handful of churches or movies weren’t made for the Millennials, but those organizations are in the minority. Regardless, both groups should be refocusing on Generation Z.

Millennials desired to learn the truth about living life from the Baby Boomers, but instead got inauthentic rhetoric. Gen X was too small to fill the role, so the Millennials did the best they could on their own. This led to watching less movies and not attending church. Only about a third of Millennials go to movies. Also, about a third attend churches. Neither of which is geared toward their needs.

But this year, Generation Z has now crossed the point of demarcation in being the largest population group and has the most disposable income. They haven’t yet determined their views on church, nor have they decided yet on making movies a part of their lives.

Pastors and filmmakers have a clean slate to build a new audience. Unfortunately, most have just caught on to the impact of the Millennials and might not catch on to the growing power of Generation Z until its too late. But for those who want to be ahead of the curve, I’ll share some of their characteristics…

Realistic Not Idealistic
Gen Z will not take hope from anyone based on an expressed set of ideals. Instead, they want the unadulterated truth about how to do real life. They are very realistic in what daily steps are required to succeed in this life and they don’t care about the media storm or the news drama filling the airwaves. They just want to know the simple truths necessary to live a good life.

Live in the Shadows
After watching the Millennials get into trouble with social media by accidental posts or the PC police chasing down the one wrong sentence someone uttered, Gen Z is standing back in the shadows. This generation has been walking away from top media sites like Facebook (lost 25% of Gen Z in last few years) to avoid being pulled in to the unwanted limelight.

Hard Working Entrepreneurs
Three fourths of Gen Z wants to be entrepreneurs. They are okay with hard work, as long as they get the direct benefit that comes with operating ones’ own business. They see the Millennials as lazy and accomplishing little, making the market ripe for Gen Z to take over. This will shrink large corporations and grow boutique businesses that will team on a project-by-project basis – Breathing life into a new kind of economy.

4D Thinkers
Gen Z is a hyper focused generation whose awareness is all encompassing. They are very much aware of what all generations are doing, how it affects them, and how to counter the negative effects. They are capable of piecing information together from multiple sources and coming up with new solutions that far exceed the Millennials.

Tech Savvy
To keep up with their rapid thought patterns and the development of their ideas, Gen Z sees technology as mandatory to survival. Most would put technology in the same category as air, water, food and shelter. This life pattern will mean more relationships developed over projects than in any other form.

These are the people the churches and filmmakers must learn how to interact with, teach, and entertain. Gen Z will be coming into power in about ten years, giving churches and studios time to ramp up to meet their needs. Unfortunately, many will miss the opportunity since they are just now focusing on the Millennials.

Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers


2016 A Compelling Year

Cinematic Story TellingMillennials are now the audience that determines a filmmaker’s success. We all saw it coming, but didn’t realize it would get here so quickly due to the large Baby Boomer population (Generation X not being big enough to have made its own impact on the box office). The line has now been crossed and profitability is directly tied to whether or not a filmmaker is compelling in the eyes of the younger generation.

Compelling is defined as evoking interest, attention, or admiration in a powerfully irresistible way. It also means inspiring conviction and not able to be resisted. To create compelling projects a filmmaker must first be relevant.

The content in faith-based films is the least relevant, as the market niche demands only stories that reflect their hope and not reality. This means that a faith-based film is not likely to ever show a protagonist in a cohabitation relationship – Known to Baby Boomers as fornication. The character will either be single and living alone or married.

However, USA Today published a recent article about those who call themselves Christian between the ages of 18 – 31. It turns out that in the national poll 65% of them were in cohabitation relationships. Since faith-based movies do not reflect the majority of the Millennials’ reality, the films are irrelevant and far from compelling.

It is therefore easy to project that faith-based films will disappear before generation Z influences the box office. The only caveat to the statement might come in the form of a new breed of filmmakers who shows cohabitation in its true light – Both the perceived good and the documented bad within the boundaries of spiritual conviction (Compelling = Inspiring Conviction). Not judgment, but conviction.

Not only is a compelling filmmaker required to be relevant in content, but he or she also must be relevant in platforms. During the Producers Guild of America’s “Producers on Producing” panel at the NAB, all four speakers shared on the importance of cross-platform strategy. Sesame Street Senior Producer Benjaming Lehmann said, “If you’re not on all the mobile devices, you’re not really compelling.”

Since platforms require different styles for success, the filmmaker has to become a great producer who can mold various parts of his product into a marketable story for various platforms. It’s no longer about making a great trailer, but making a connection with the audience.

Caitlin Burns, a producer and Vice Chair of the PGA’s New Media Council, shared on the changes in relationship between content creators and consumers. “There is a lot more understanding that you are going to be in dialogue with your audience,” she said. “We are seeing the audience less as an object and more as a subject.”

To be compelling in 2016 filmmakers must turn their film projects into conversations. The content must be truthful and relevant. Gone are the days of films built in a world of hope and dreams. They must now be first grounded in reality and then inspire the audience through compelling content to consider a better life for their future.

There is nothing wrong with convicting an audience on a topic when it’s based first in reality. Nor is there anything attractive about a future hope that doesn’t show the audience how to get there from their own reality. The key is to create a compelling story that is based in reality and inspires the audience to take a new action in their lives.

And, creating a series of related shorts (by branding) that work very differently than the film will allow the filmmaker to be compelling on various platforms. A cool trailer on YouTube promoting a film is no longer enough to generate an audience. To be compelling some form of the brand must be on all mobile devices and the top eight social sites. This requires eight different forms of branded content for success. Putting one short on eight platforms no longer works.

What are you doing this year to create compelling content?

Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers