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Gen Z, The Future of Mobility, and the Value of Perspectives and Possibility

Have you heard the latest about Gen Z? I’m sure you’ve already prepared yourselves. Told all your Millennial friends and family that they’re getting bumped down the youth marketing totem pole because Gen Z is totally on the rise. But didn’t you know Gen Z is changing how we work? How we eat? How we shop for holiday gifts?! Oh, and another thing about Gen Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Whoops! Sorry. I nodded off there for a moment. It’s just that every day it seems the experts are churning out more Gen Z predictions, behaviors, trends, or whatever. It all feels like old news…or, rather, “new noise.” So, how do you really get to know the new “it” generation, one that is totally fragmented and different than any generation before?

You spend time with them. You get to know them. And you work with them to solve a challenge that they care about.

That’s exactly what C Space and dozens of executives from major brands like Bose and Converse did. They picked a fun and intriguing topic to explore: the future of mobility. What does Gen Z want from their experience of getting from point A to point B? And how would they make it better?

So as not to limit minds, creativity, or possibilities, “mobility” was defined loosely: basically, anywhere you go, anything you take with you, and any way you get there.

Throughout the day, everyone stepped outside their comfort zones, connected, and offered up their best ideas for how to make getting around better. Gen Z participants spoke with passion and maturity. “My generation is somehow a lot more independent and a lot less independent, and I think that’s just really what you depend on,” said 20-year-old Daisy. And brand leaders were right there – up in the mix, eager to listen and learn from this articulate and thoughtful group of young people.

Watch for yourself:

While the group may not have come up with “the next big thing” in mobility, older participants said they came away from the experience with a decidedly deeper understanding of how this generation thinks, acts, and feels about mobility, brands, and the world they’re growing up in.

“They’re definitely looking for social responsibility, for sustainability. All of these things are really important to them,” notes participant Laurie Manos, VP of Global Consumer Insights and Market Intelligence at Converse.

These are intelligent, inspiring, gifted young people. Gen Z is like a global youth movement: one part ambition, two parts independence, and a gazillion parts ready to make their world better. Plus, their BS filter is off the charts. “It’s no longer enough to be a great product,” cautions Manos. “You need to be a great company through and through.”

Of course, Gen Z is still growing. There’s lots yet to learn. But business leaders need to understand that there is much more to them than the latest listicle proclaiming 10 Ways to Reach Gen Z (Spoiler Alert: It’s SNAPCHAT, Stupid!).

Gen Z is also what’s next for all of us. They’re the vanguard of change. Their decisions, their connections, what they do and how they do it – all of it matters because it’s going to shape our world. That may cause consternation for some. But I would argue that it’s actually pretty exhilarating. Brands and industries hang in the balance of Gen Z’s future, and those that exercise greater agility and choose to work with them stand to reap the benefits.

That’s why days like this one – bringing people from different walks of life together to learn from one another and approach challenges from a variety of perspectives and experiences – aren’t just important, they’re critical. You can’t really know a person, a customer, a generation, until you’ve spent meaningful time with them, until you’ve carved out a space to swap stories, listen, and learn about the world from their vantage point. It’s something that seems to be in short supply these days.

But once you take the time and put in the work, it’s amazing how your mindset starts to shift. How you start to think about your world in the context of others, and vice versa. How you see certain things just a little bit differently, begin to find common ground, and, maybe, ignite action from imagination.

If nothing else, that’s what Gen Z and the Future of Mobility was all about. Just ask those that were there.

“It’s one thing to deliver insights about consumers to marketing or engineering teams that are working on products or campaigns,” Derek Calzini, Director of Consumer and Market Insights at Bose, and one of the day’s participants sums up. “It’s an entirely different thing to actually sit with and meet with the consumers themselves.”

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