Move over Millennials; Generation Z to take over buying power, workforce

Plugged in and ready to head out into the workforce; Generation Z is about to become the purchasing powerhouse of the U.S. economy.

"Ninety-three percent of household buying decisions are influenced by Gen Z," explained Moez Limayem, the dean of USF's Muma College of Business. "That’s $143 billion of buying power."

Generation Z enjoys the title of 'first' in many arenas. It's the first to use smartphones more than any type of media.

Limayem describes the age group in simple terms: "They are global, connected, social, and tech-savvy."

Social media may be taking a toll on Gen Z's social skills. This group is described as competitive and realistic, but also more anxious and reserved.

According to an article in Forbes, Millennials, (born between 1981 and 1996), still dominate the market. But with Generation Zers, (born after 1996 through the early 2000s), in their graduating years, they will soon make up 25 percent of the adult population in the U.S. - making them a larger group and Millennials or Baby Boomers.

Sophia Tejere is a senior at USF, and a Gen Xer, (born after baby boomers and before millennials).

"This generation was born into technology. That's what we have seen: This whole life, on social media. They can be open, but personal relationships might be more closed off," Tejere said.

Fellow senior Taylor McDonald agrees face-to-face isn't as easy for Gen Z.

"If it's something over an email, [for example] a job offer, people are more demanding and speak up, but  [in a] personal, face-to-face interview, it becomes a shy aspect. We're not as willing to speak up," McDonald said.

By 2020, Dean Limayem says Generation Z will account for 40 percent of consumers worldwide, making businesses come up with new ways to capture this group's attention.

"They don't react to online ads. That's the generation that uses software that blocks the ads. They react to edgy commercial ads, short videos that are very visual," Limayem explained.

With Baby Boomers retiring and unemployment at historic lows, Gen Z will fill the gaps in the workplace, meaning employers will have to adapt, as well.

"Do not expect Gen Z to be in front of their laptops from 8 to 5. You have to rethink the workplace, the technology they use, and give more space to do the things they're good at, which is using smart phones, ideas, and being very social."