5 things your financial institution needs to know about Gen Z

by | Jun 17, 2020

The oldest members of Gen Z are approaching their mid-20s, and this young generation is already changing the world, shifting the social media landscape and throwing their weight behind the social movements sweeping the country. 

But if you’re like most credit unions, you don’t deal with a lot of Gen Zers from day to day: most CU members are middle-aged. Don’t worry, though – we’ve got you covered. Here are five things your financial institution should know about Gen Z:

  1. They range in age, from 23 years old to babies born yesterday. The Pew Research Center has formally designated anyone born after the year 1996 as Gen Z, but there’s no set end date to this generation of Americans. So while the oldest Gen Zers are 23 this year, the generation technically includes today’s school-aged children, toddlers and infants as well. When you see Zogo reference Gen Z, we’re typically referring to the teens and twenty-somethings that have some purchasing power (no offense to the toddlers of today).
  2. They value diversity. Most Gen Zers view the country’s growing racial and ethnic diversity as a good thing — likely linked with the fact that members of Gen Z are more racially and ethnically diverse than previous generations. This generation places a high value on diversity and inclusion in the workplace as well, important to know for future recruiting efforts. 
  3. They’re pursuing higher education in higher numbers. Gen Zers are less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to be enrolled in college. Maybe because of this, fewer Gen Zers are working during their teenage and adult years. As one 2018 report from Deloitte states, “Gen Z considers a traditional four-year college education more important than ever before” — and is on their way to becoming the most well-educated and debt-laden generation today.
  4. They use social media all the time, but they’re not so sure that’s a good thing. Nearly every single American teenager has access to a smartphone — 95 percent, according to Pew’s report — and an even higher percentage uses at least one major social media platform. Still, they have mixed opinions on how all that scrolling has impacted their age group:  31 percent say the effect on people their own age has been mostly positive, 24 percent say it’s been mostly negative, and 45 percent say it’s been mostly neutral. But the overwhelming presence of social media in young people’s lives today may make interpersonal, face-to-face relationships all the more meaningful. 
  5. They’re on the cusp of adulthood — and facing an uncertain future. A few months ago, Gen Z was poised to inherit a strong economy with record-low unemployment numbers. Now, the coronavirus pandemic has changed everything, and the youngest generation has been hit hard: half of Gen Zers ages 18-23 reported that they or someone in their household had taken a pay cut or lost their job because of the outbreak. 

This isn’t the first instance of economic upheaval this generation has experienced. Many Gen Zers grew up in the wake of the Great Recession of 2008. It’s unclear how that hardship will shape this generation in the years to come — but hopefully, your credit union can help them stick it out as they navigate adulthood in a shifting world. 

How is your financial institution connecting with younger generations?

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