Are You Ready for Generation Z?

Sarah Saleh, May 31 2016

Rogier Croes, Chief Digital Officer at MEC Global, describes himself as a “tech father” on the look for the latest gadgets; expected from the CDO of the fifth largest media agency network in the world! 

Rogier’s unexpected presentation approach had many of us talking. He spoke of his kids and technology; he spoke of generation Z and its disruption of brand fundamentals today. His talk started with a video showcasing a baby getting annoyed by his inability to swipe a magazine – which made us ponder upon the mere thought of our children´s future. What kind of life will they lead?

 Rogier's Children 

Giving us insights into his children´s technology interests, Rogier had much to say.

For instance, his children still enjoy playing outside and they don’t watch any TV. They like to choose their own content, they want to have control over what they watch – and so they watch YouTube on their iPads, while still complaining about ads.
His 10 year-old daughter owns an iPhone that remains at home, as she finds it too cumbersome to take out; she simply does not use it for calls. On the other hand, she uses her iPad for completely different reasons. Rogier once bought an Apple watch; when his daughter saw it, she exclaimed: “you can even watch time on it!”

His son once asked him on the plane if he could watch Netflix; dad said: “there’s no wifi” – son said: “but Netflix said ‘anywhere, anytime! It’s not true!’“  Yep they remember!

Question arises as to who can influence such consumers – and the answer is a “flocker!” Rogier talks about this guy who rides around town on his bike, filming himself. And though Rogier doesn´t get it, his children love it. As he so nicely put it: “If I don´t get it, doesn´t mean they shouldn´t watch it.“ And so people such as this self-filming cyclist, have massive influence on their brand preference; whatever t-shirt he wears, his kids want that.

Insights Into Generation Z

Rogier had interesting things to share with respect to generation Z. When a child does research for school, they may easily look it up, and they will get an answer for it unlike back in 2000, when children had to go through encyclopedias. If you give an apple watch to a kid, their excitement is mainly due to the fact that they already like the brand – even if they are unfamiliar with the product yet.

Education reforms are happening quite slowly – though happy about his children working on tabs, Rogier thinks they should have more group work and preparation for the business world.

If we start collecting digital information from children as they grow up, then when one wishes to learn French, we can use all of the accumulated data to teach this child in the best way possible for them. This is “personalized learning in a social way”. Focus on the strengths of a child, not weaknesses – as is being done in schools today.

The Mendeleev Periodic Table is considered basic knowledge, in the sense that we don’t use it later on in life – we spend so much time learning things we don´t use.

Children’s prototyping toys that look like LEGO can be used for education. Such toys include an electronic circuit, where children build their own. Other toys include coding games, one of which can be used to make an animated movie through coding.

Rogier´s role in all of this? He wants to help find his children´s passions, assisting them in experiencing as much as they can. He wishes to help them write their own stories, that´s what life is all about, isn´t it?

Into the Future  

In a few years, we won´t have to worry about having WIFI somewhere – it´ll be everywhere – as for now, Rogier finds it unreasonable when asked for a $10 extra charge for WIFI on the plane!

What about kids’ job expectations? Rogier gives the example of Knack, a game-based, science-driven, data-powered talent platform, that may help see how one fits on a certain career path.

How about we make something like Minecraft into VR, or we “3D print” it? One can develop a structure on an iPad and then print it. Our children may potentially design their own houses, and print the basic structure within 24 hours! 

Rogier´s thoughts got us wondering - Generation Z is getting older and ready for the future, are we ready for these consumers? And with this, we shall leave you wondering too.

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