Are you trying to understand what millennials want and how to plan great events for them? I hate to break this to you, but you are missing the train again. You should have worried about this topic years ago!
However, now you have the chance to catch the next train and be prepared for what's next. Why? The future attendees of your events are entering school and the workforce today, so it's time to start thinking about them in event-planning terms. Born after 1997, 'Generation Z' (also referred to the iGeneration or Digital Generation) is also called the first generation of the 21st century. Smart, plural, and the first-all digital generation, this population has a unique way of learning, interacting, and communicating. According to a Sparks & Honey trend report:
- This generation intends to change the world.
- They learned that traditional choices don't guarantee success.
- Their education system is focused on inclusive classrooms.
- Entrepreneurship is in their DNA.
- They seek continuous education and knowledge.
- They use social media as a research tool.
- They communicate with symbols and images.
They also manifest the Gen C characteristics: constantly connected online with their community, always searching for new things to share, and interested in curating or creating new content.
As you can see, the iGeneration is different from other generations in many ways, and this will impact the way that we, as event managers, design and plan events for them. Let me show you what I'm talking about.
Researchers Ian Jukes, Ted McCain, and Lee Crocket specify in their book Understanding the Digital Generation: Teaching and Learning in the New Digital Landscape, the iGeneration has eight different preferences.
Let's look at each preference individually and see how it will lead to a new way of designing events.
1. They prefer receiving information quickly from multiple media resources
The iGeneration will not wait. They want things to unfold quickly. Think about optimizing all the pre- and during-event processes (such as registration, accreditation, etc.).
2. They prefer parallel processing and multitasking
The iGeneration will feel bored if they won’t have the possibility to multitask during your event. Offer them this possibility. They can absorb information through parallel processing (the ability of the brain to do many things at once), thus they will be aware of what the speaker talks about.
3. They like to process pictures, sounds, color, and video before text
This feature has the power to influence event promotion. Instead of explanatory texts about why one should attend your event, explain your event’s concept through an animated video, for example. In this case, you’ll have to craft your story-telling abilities and know how to use images, sounds, and colors to make your event attractive for this generation.
4. They like to 'click around' and their brains have a different way of structuring information
Generation Z perceives information in a fragmented way: an Instagram pic, a tweet, a Facebook post, a few lines from an article, etc. A few 'clicks around' are sufficient enough for them to get the gist of a subject. This will influence greatly the dynamic of the event sessions and the way speakers share their knowledge.
5. They love to network simultaneously with many others
In this case, we can expect the success of social media platforms during the events. Also, it’s possible to predict new networking formats and apps that will permit this tech-savvy generation to 'browse' the list of guests, searching for someone interesting to meet. Have you ever thought about an event Tinder app? This may be the case.
6. They prefer 'just-in-time' learning to do immediate tasks
Have you ever thought about engaging attendees by encouraging them to learn new skills and accomplishing ad-hoc tasks? We are used to seeing events as environments of knowledge transference through words, yet why not to design a highly engaging event during which attendees will have fun while learning by doing immediate tasks?
7. They prefer instant gratification with immediate rewards
Incentives will play a great role when designing and planning events for Generation Z. Also, this feature conditions the promotion of the event. You’ll have to focus the pre-event communication on the immediate results and the benefits they will accrue if they attend.
8. They like learning what is relevant, useful, and fun
Your event's success will depend on the thematic focus and approach. Generation Z won't attend only because it’s a fancy topic. You’ll have to show them why the knowledge they will gain is relevant and how the learning process will be engaging and fun.
There are still many unknown facts about the iGeneration, yet we can see that they are faster, smarter, and more selective. Because they are highly aware of how they spend their time and energy, the events you plan for them will need to be extremely relevant and useful.