"The Internet Is In Our Blood.” A Guide To Generation Z, by 18-year-old CEO Brandon Relph

By 2019 Generation Z will comprise 32% of the world’s population. This data, published by Bloomberg, classified a Gen Z member as anyone born after 2000. If you’re a business that wants to engage those 18 and under, you’d better act fast if you don’t want to seem as medieval as a MiniDisc.

For those hoping to unpick the minds of Gen Z, there’s no better person than the Eastbourne-based Brandon Relph. Brandon is 18 and CEO of his company Internet Ready, who consult on and devise Generation Z-focused internet marketing strategies. He became the world’s youngest CEO – a title he no longer holds – at just 13-years-old after launching the Minecraft-based business goCreative.

Five years later he spends most of his days helping Fortune 100 companies drag their feet out of the past. Added to that, he’s an international speaker and was once described as “awesome” by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Speaking to Brandon, perhaps surprisingly, will make you feel both old and scornful of the painfully childish whims of your own 18-year-old self. We caught up with him to discover everything you need to know about Generation Z.

 

Hey Brandon. What’s the main difference between millennials and Generation Z?

Millennials changed the world but Gen Z are changing it again. The main thing is that we grew up with the internet. It’s in our blood. It changed how we see the world.

 

Has growing up behind a computer affected your attitude to work?

It’s hard to say but we definitely prefer to work independently. We’re less interested in collaborating. I think we like our own space because we’re used to having it. We can connect on the internet rather than sitting in the same room!

 

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We read a lot about Gen Z being more mindful than those before. How does that play out?

We’re much more careful with money and thoughtful about how much things cost. We are a lot more savvy around brands and where we put our money. Millennials were quite oblivious to when they’re being marketed to but we’re very, very aware. When we become adults we’ll have the highest buying power of any generation, so we’ll have all the money but we’ll spend it wisely.

What about careers?

We want accelerated careers. We want to just get on with our thing. We don’t want to go in at low-level jobs.

How do you channel that though? Everyone has to start somewhere.

The world is still working out how to adapt but I think there’ll be a lot of smaller firms. A lot of individuals and freelancers to make a web of talent rather than just having pure bureaucratic companies. 

How important will the culture of an company or employer be?

We’ll want something that constantly stimulates our minds. Rather than just going in and doing one job we’ll want to go in, have three different jobs and just get on with it. 

How important is “constant stimulation” in marketing?

We need to have our attention grabbed quickly and kept consistently. Marketing needs to be fast marketing rather than slow. You need to create a different mindset around the brand. Rather than just one advert you need multiple adverts and to build a brand, rather than just sell a single product.

Who is good at this?

The bigger companies are being quite successful because they’re building brands first and products after. Take Apple: they are really good at sustainability and that means a lot to us.

Who are Gen Z icons?

Increasingly I think it’s Influencers. We’ve moved away from mainstream celebrities to people that we can connect and relate with: you can see Influencers more as friends than just people on the TV. Through vlogging and other ways you can understand what they represent. They’ll do meet-ups. It’s all about connection and it’s why influencer marketing is so effective. Influencers also value their audience as people: they could sell something dodgy and perhaps get away with it, but it would harm them brand and con people they have a relationship with. They’re very mindful of this.

Who’s a big Influencer we should know?

There’s a Youtuber called Shane Dawson. He’s had a lot of success and people see him as a stable and interesting guy. 

Are there any bad brands for Gen Z?

Our generation don’t use Facebook much. Personally I don’t use Facebook. It’s a product for older people. It’s slow, it’s boring. Also, they collect loads of data. Less is more when it comes to data. We hugely value our privacy.  Sometimes I have firms say they want to tun a Facebook campaign aimed at Gen Z and I tell them not to bother!

Finally. Is all progress good progress good for Generation Z? Is there no sense of holding onto traditions or do we just speed up the world and make it as effective as possible?

I think we’ve come into a world where we are taught to fast and and effective. We’re the most connected generation ever because we have the internet and lots of our relationships are built over the internet. We’re also very conscious of everybody. We think the greater good is most important and we're less scared of monopolies. You know, people worry about Amazon having a monopoly. We care about companies that care for people.

Us too. Thanks Brandon!

Pop along to our event ‘PLATF9RM Presents: What Is The Future Of Work For Generation Z’, to hear more on what Brandon has to say, along with Daisy Cresswell and Lola Ray from Brighton5 and Declan Cassidy from Maker Club.