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Event experience | 10 March 2016

Generation Z Statistics Planners Should Know

Kathleen Smith

Generation Z (also known as plurals or post-Millennials) are the children born after the mid-1990s who are just beginning to come into their own as potential consumers. They are the largest generation in the U.S. according to Forbes  – and will make up 40% of the population by 2020. Advances in data collection and demography mean that there’s a wealth of information available about this burgeoning cohort and their habits.

For event organizers, this increasingly important part of the population is important to understand. In the next few years, members of Generation Z will take on a larger role in the American economy – for event organizers interested in building long lasting event series, it will eventually become necessary to attract Gen Z-ers to events and conferences.

Here are some Generation Z statistics to keep in mind:

Generation Z is the first generation to have never lived a day without the Internet. (click to tweet)

The World Wide Web, web servers and browsers gained traction in the opening years of the nineties and by 1995 “surfing the Web” was a fully accepted means of information exchange and communication. Not surprisingly, Generation Z is savvy when it comes to all things Internet.

Social Media is the preferred means of communication for members of Gen Z. (click to tweet)

This is not such a surprise perhaps given their history with the Internet, but Generation Z is completely tapped into mobile and interested in any social media platform that offers constant connectivity. As Laura Heller points out also in Forbes, “… Gen Z prefers the immediacy and intimacy of personalized shopping online” to other kinds of retail experience. That means they love special apps, gadgets and online protocols for purchasing, registering and otherwise engaging with organizations and events. This information might indicate that Gen Z would prefer a personalized event registration experience when signing up for an event or conference.

Gen Z is the most ethnically diverse and tolerant demographic ever. (click to tweet)

In the U.S. census of 2001, 6.8% of people under the age of 18 claimed to be more than one race. A 2012 Frank N. Magid Associates white paper stated that this cohort has positive feelings about the increasing ethnic diversity in the U.S. and that they are more likely than older generations to have social circles that include people from different ethnic groups, races and religions. “The first generation of the 21st Century is the last generation in America that will have a Caucasian majority,” said Sharalyn Hartwell, Executive Director of Magid Generational Strategies.  “This unprecedented transition to a multi-cultural, pluralistic society will be a major aspect of their lives.”

Generation Z are comfortable with the erosion of binary gender classifications and accepting of more fluid gender identification. (click to tweet)

This generation watched same sex marriages legalized nationally in the U.S. in 2015. They have witnessed the public and much lauded transformation of Bruce Jenner into Caitlyn. A panel at the 2016 South X Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas entitled Generation Z and Gender: Beyond Binaries examines this profound paradigm shift, citing a recent survey of a thousand 12 to 19-year-olds by J. Walter Thompson Intelligence that found “81% agreed that gender doesn’t define a person as much as it used to.”

They are cautious yet entrepreneurial, and may not adhere to conventional paths to success followed by previous generations. (click to tweet)

Commenting on the prevailing psychology of the cohort in the business2community blog, Daniel James suggests that “Generation Z didn’t have the opportunity to see the job market thriving before watching it fall into a recession – they witnessed the recession, felt the brunt of it by growing up in it, and are now nervous – if not a bit insecure – about what will happen when they graduate.” This may make them more reluctant to sign up for post-secondary education and student loan debt in favour of flexibility around the means of achieving success. Experience may mean more to them than money, making Generation Z particularly well disposed to events focused on learning and networking.

Everybody seems to be getting ready for this next big demographic. In the same way that the Baby Boomers and Generation X set the tone for consumer and popular culture in the 20th century, Generation Z will be largely calling the shots in the 21st. Today’s teens and tweens are tomorrow’s movers and shakers.

To build an event marketing plan that will appeal to any generation, download our Smart Marketing Playbook by clicking the button below!

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