Last post, we took a look at the historical context of shifting racial demographics and compared how Generation Z stacked up. Today, we will explore two additional factors that impact the level of diversity this generation exhibits.
An overlooked item that could cast doubt on Generation Z’s status as the “most diverse” generation is found in immigration data. Compared to Millennials, Generation Z youth grew up surrounded by fewer immigrants. Considering The United States’ history as a country of mass immigration throughout the decades and centuries, Generation Z could be one of the least diverse generations in regards to immigrants. As an example, take a look at the largest minority and immigrant group, the U.S. Hispanic population. A whooping 24% of Millennial Hispanics were foreign born immigrants. In comparison, only 12% of Generation Z Hispanics are foreign born. That is an astounding 50% decrease across a single generation! In fairness, the overall percent of immigrants has only decreased by 14%, which indicates Generation Z has seen an increase of immigrants from non-Hispanic origin, just not enough to offset the decrease in Hispanic immigrants.
Many people will tell you that foreign born immigrants in general, regardless of race, exhibit more diverse characteristics than citizens born of varying racial groups within the same country. As someone who grew up around a plethora of foreign born immigrants and who has also lived in a foreign country, I would tend to agree with that logic. With a lower percentage of the Generation Z population claiming foreign countries of origin compared to the previous Millennial Generation, the title of “Most Diverse,” which has widely been bestowed upon Generation Z, at least warrants more consideration.
Diversity of thought is another component to consider, which of course cannot be so easily measured. Generation X, sandwiched between the shadows of Baby Boomers and Millennials, was largely overlooked due to a lack of cohesiveness to define it. Sometimes people refer to this generation as cynical, largely because it is difficult to pinpoint a widespread stance that was shared by most members. This makes it more difficult to market to them as a group, and also signifies a high level of diversity of thought.
In regards to Millennials, they may have the biggest split ever within a single generation. Many researchers have noted how older Millennials differ significantly in attitude and values from their younger peers. The older Millennials did not grow up with cell phones, social media, and ubiquitous internet. The younger Millennials, on the other hand, struggle to remember a time in their lives when everyone didn’t have a smartphone in their hand, social media accounts online, and fast internet service in their homes. These differences created a very diverse split within the generation that has caused some marketers to treat these two age segments as separate.
Will Generation Z experience similar levels of diversity of thought? With the speed that technology and social norms are changing, it is definitely possible. On the other hand, with increased censorship and social engineering, Generation Z members with dissenting views may often see their opinions discouraged or even squashed by their peers. Such an environment would encourage cohesion in thought, as people would need to follow established social norms or else risk ostracization. The ultimate outcome still remains to be seen as the younger segment of Generation Z approaches adulthood.
From a marketing perspective, it is important to consider the historical context so that you can adjust appropriately without overreacting. Keep in mind there are many more factors to consider than those included in this two-part series. If you continue to research and stay on top of the trends, you’ll find success connecting with this increasingly financially viable consumer segment.