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Kate’s Corner: X vs. Y vs. Z

Katherine Vigneau, CAFM, NAFA Director of Professional Development with Patti Earley, CAFM, NAFA President explore mobility options at WTW19 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo: Katherine Vigneau)

Younger individuals entering the workforce are changing the way we think of fleet needs.

November marks an event I look forward to all year—the Welcome Tomorrow conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which I attended this year with NAFA President, Patti Earley, CAFM. Informative, imaginative and innovative, this conference always impresses. This year, with speakers such as Nina Dragone, Head of Automotive, Facebook, and Juliana Yamana, Head of Insights and Analytics, Google, I left with lots to think about.

Our digital world
Yamana presented a slide that illustrates the importance of digital in creating new markets. Their research shows the following generational differences just in the people in the workforce born in 1960 or later:

  • Generation X or “The Laggards” – Represent 25% of the population and 74% of the generation are in the workforce. This cohort earns 45% of the overall working income.
  • Generation Y or “Early Adaptors” – Represent 24% of the population and 83% of the generation are in the workforce. This cohort earns 37% of the overall working income.
  • Generation Z or “Digital Natives” – Represent 17% of the population and 51% of the generation are in the workforce. This cohort earns 8% of the overall working income.

The average kid from Generation Z has had a smart phone since the age of 12, while the average for Generation X is 20. What’s more, Generation Z members are “always on” as 90% access the Internet daily and 82% of this access is via smart phone.

Changing attitudes
What does this all mean? We need to take digitization into account in nearly every dealing with this generation. They do not simply prefer digital communication; they thrive on it. If we thought Gen Y was active on social media, Gen Z will compete and surpass—but on Snapchat and YouTube more so than Facebook and Twitter. The notion of non-permanent content is important to them. In fact, three distinct characteristics guide Gen Z:

  • Desire for access rather than possession.
  • Purchase to express individual identity.
  • Make purchase decisions based on ethical concerns.

The implications for fleet and the automotive industry in general are many, but consider these as a starting point.

  • Gen Z will be more open to non-traditional mobility options. Public transit or ride sharing is an individual choice aligned with ethical goals.
  • Gen Z will choose function, or performance over form. Non-traditional forms of transportation that get from Point A to Point B are acceptable.
  • Gen Z won’t be loyal to their grandfather’s car choice. Brand is not important—getting the desired functionality is.

Impact on fleet
Does this make the Fleet Manager’s job easier or harder? Both. It is easier in that this generation is poised to accept new ways of doing things. It is more difficult in that they will drive older generations to create increasingly non-traditional solutions to better meet their needs. We live in interesting times with this emerging generation pushing the older generations to rethink some of the basic tenets of our industry.

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