Get to know the newest generation of consumers.

By Rieva Lesonsky

Is our decades-long fascination with Millennials about to end? Not likely, but marketers are now setting their sights on Generation Z.

Who is Gen Z? Well, we know it comes after Gen Y (the Millennials), but whether the generation started in the mid-1990s or in 2000 is up for debate. In any case, Ad Age says Gen Z (they say they’re currently ages 2 to 19—which means the nation’s 1-year-olds already represent a new generation) is “the most diverse and multicultural of any [American] generation: 55 percent are Caucasian, 24 percent are Hispanic, 14 percent are African-American and 4 percent are Asian.”

If you’re a retailer, Ad Age says you should know these kids “are the least likely to believe there is such a thing as the ‘American Dream’.” Instead, the magazine says, they’re looking for products and messaging that reflect reality, not perfection.

Ad Age says, “They respond to independence and entrepreneurialism, self-direction and a spirit of ingenuity.” The magazine advises retailers to “create products and marketing that empower [Gen Z] teens to be their best selves.”

Gen Z are true digital natives—being, says Ad Age, the “first generation born into a digital world.” It’s not enough for businesses to embrace technology, advises the magazine; you must “act digitally native too, creating a seamless and strong overarching brand experience across in-store, digital and mobile.”

Since the experts can’t agree on when Gen Z started, there’s no consensus on how many Zer’s there actually are, though most estimates agree there are about 72 million of them (making Gen Z smaller than Gen Y and Baby Boomers).

The good news for small business owners is Ad Age says it’s “shocking” how few retailers are reaching Gen Z. That leaves a lot of opportunity for entrepreneurs to be their marketers of choice.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+   and