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This is a question we get a lot at IOVIA.

And to be honest we don’t have all the answers. What we can do is impart our experience with this generation across all the brands we work with. So here are some thoughts for you:

1) Stop the bullshit. Gen Z will seek you out and call you out on it. They won’t hold back. They believe that we’ve messed things up enough already and they have nothing to lose by saying ‘nope, we’re not buying your greenwashing, or your empty CSR’.

2) Think beyond advertising; think co-creation. They want to build what they want from you, with you. They don’t want to be advertised to. They will build and shape the content they want to see from your brand – if you are lucky enough to have their admiration.

3) They are practical and clever. Gen Z looks at challenges and opportunities differently and they come up with different solutions. They have far fewer built-in biases to push them in certain directions. They just say ‘Why? Why not?’ And take action. And they expect the people developing products and services for them to be representative of who they are.

4) Get rid of the labels. Their mindsets and actions transcend labels. Don’t put them in a box and generalize them. Any form of ‘demographics’ you might be targeting or want to target, well, that’s going to disappear. Demographics will be reimagined in a post-Gen Z world. They’ll be based on what we believe, value and act upon, rather than the limiting categories of the past.

5) Let them speak their minds. Yes, some of it might be harsh but that’s okay. They are forcing us to have courageous discussions and open debates. And just because you engage with them doesn’t mean that they are only going to say – ‘wow, you are great – keep doing what you are doing.’ They’re going to say you can be better and let me give you some ideas how.

6) Don’t assume they’ll value an employer-employee arrangement. Ask them how they want to work and contribute. Perhaps they will be working with many brands at the same time rather than clocking in at one place from 9-5. That will actually be a fantastic opportunity for your brand… they won’t be drinking the Kool Aid. Instead they’ll contribute a vast range of ideas from their vast range of experiences. This will be true regardless if you are selling vegan clothing, soft drinks or software.

This generation is proving to be highly influential in all aspects of activism and commerce. Greta Thunberg is the case in point. She isn’t just leading teenagers. She’s leading all of us, regardless of where we live, our race, our sex or our age. She’s not waiting. And neither should we.The bottom line: Barriers are breaking down here. Be ready. Let Gen Z in, give them power and influence… and they will help design the future of your brand, your company, your products and your services.

This post was originally published in #IOVIAradar. Read our latest issue and subscribe here.