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Gen Z

In the rugby world there are a number of generations we come across, but the one that has many of us coaches baffled is Generation Z – the next generation after Millennials. To be perfectly honest, I don’t even understand the Millennials, but let’s worry about them another time.

Generation Z consist of people who are born between 1995 and 2010, so the oldest are around 23 and just entering the workforce.

They are the first generation that has grown up in an entirely post-digital era, not knowing time without internet, smartphones, uber, etc.

To put that into some perspective, Millennials will remember the arrival of the smartphone and Facebook, but Gen Z will have little or no recollection of a time without it.

So, without further ado, I’ll try and give you a quick squizz at what you are dealing with when you come across Gen Z (in no order – just like them).

·        This generation was raised by Gen Xers and older millennials, so one might imagine they place great value on structure but, Gen Z has shown a fondness for freedom from the hierarchal tendencies.

·        Gen Z absolutely cares about limiting their environmental impact, but they are sick of hearing about it!

·        They are sceptical about labels and organisations, and they will often research before supporting a business or non-profit to confirm they really follow through on their environmental undertakings.

·        Gen Zers have been raised to believe they should value what makes them unique.

·        Whether through their Instagram feed or by their gender expression, they have the ability to decide who they want to be at any given point in time and how they want to share that image.

·        Gen-Zers are more interested in participating in social activism and working for their success.

·        They are the first generation to grow up with mainstream media having interracial couples and same-sex couples.

·        Smartphones are the device they consider to be their most important for getting online.

·        Their attention span online is eight seconds on average, sparking the increasing popularity of 10-seconds-or-less video advertising and apps like Snapchat.

·        But they do have the ability to sift and sort through massive amounts of information they’ve been surrounded by to find what they need or what’s relevant for them.

·        Half of this generation will connect online up to 10 hours per day, and one-third will spend at least one of those 10 hours watching video. Using YouTube is virtually universal (95%), reiterating the importance of video and entertainment to this young audience.

·        Gen Z use different platforms for different activities.

·        Digital influencers have large and often rabid fan bases. Many influencers rose to fame through social networks like YouTube or Instagram, and still use these platforms to publish media and interact with fans. And they are not always you we call important or famous.

·        73% of Gen Zers “feel close” to YouTubers (compared to only 45% for TV/movie stars), and 40% say their favourite YouTuber understands them better than their real-life friends.

·        The single most effective way to reach Gen Z consumers is to allow the Internet’s favourite content creators to tell branded stories for them. Influencer marketing tends to be more authentic and more creative than traditional efforts.

·        They’ve been marketed to their whole life, not just through linear advertising but also through the likes of bloggers and social media. 46% say that they tend to buy the brands they see advertised –a figure which compares to just 23% of Boomers.

·        In general, Gen Z participation in sports is on the decline.

·        High burnout rates from pushing kids and teens into high-commitment, travel sports too young as well as the high costs of programs have been major contributors to the lower numbers of participation.

How to coach them is still a mystery!