What the next generation wants and how you can give it to them

Dust off your red carpets and spruce up your venues—Generation Z is coming. The generation waiting in the wings for the much-discussed Millennials to stop being interesting is preparing to invade clubland, and you need to be ready. For while Millennials—also known as Generation Y—are a depressed bunch (which given all the doom and gloom that has occurred during their lifetime, is pretty unsurprising), Generation Z is gearing up for one big party.

This poses a challenge for venues that currently cater to deal with Millennials, a generation which has staunchly avoided spending too much time in clubs and other venues. Currently aged between 21 and 34 years old, Millennials are the biggest demographic filling your clubs, venues, and events on a nightly or weekend-ly basis.

Except they haven’t really been ‘filling’ anything. According to a research from global marketers GFK, in comparison to the generations preceding them, just 60 percent of Millennials actually go to clubs, with more than 25 percent of those going just once a month. Attendance rates like these are no way to keep a happening club scene going, evidenced by the 6,500 clubs that close in the U.S. each year. These trends are also being mirrored in other countries, such as the UK, where club-goer numbers are also deteriorating.

On the whole, Millennials say that they prefer to spend their money on experiences, rather than just nights out. For this generation, it’s more about what you can see and do, rather than just meeting people. Perhaps it is for these reasons that while clubs continue to suffer, events like music festivals have gone from strength to strength. In 2014, 14.7 million US Millennials went to a music festival, according to Nielsen Music.

Talking About Their Generation

Soon, these club-phobic Millennials will be replaced by that new generation, Generation Z. Don’t know what that is or who they are? You’re not alone. Generational cohorts span roughly two decades, and Generation Z was born between the mid 1990s and up to the 2010s. At present, they are an incomplete generation. Controversially nicknamed The Founders by MTV, Generation Z is the heir apparent to the neglected Millennial playground of urban nightlife.

According to Forbes, Generation Z will eventually make up a massive 25 percent of the American population, making them a bigger demographic than even the post-war baby boomers. Adapting to the wants and needs of this particular social group will be crucial, and when the time comes, entertainment businesses and venues need to be ready.

What They Want

Research from Big Four accountancy firm Ernst & Young found that Generation Z takes the same traits as their Millennial forebears and expand upon them. If Millennials want entry to an event in minutes, Generation Z wants seconds. If Millennials are reluctant to spend money on things that aren’t experiences, Generation Z will laugh you out of town.

Similarly, according to Dan Keldsen and Tom Koulopoulosm the authors of Gen Z: The Uber Generation, two of the most prominent trends that will be launched by Generation Z are hyperconnectivity and slingshotting, habits that are made possible by the constant presence of wireless connectivity and smart devices. What’s more, Generation Z will continue to pioneer the use of on-demand and sharing economy platforms, meaning that selling to this demographic will become even more digitized than it already is.

Put simply, Generation Z will want to connect quickly and easily with those around them via the devices they have grown up with. In particular, slingshotting means that they will also expect the newest technologies to be made available to them in a shorter time frame than previously possible. This means using the latest music apps to source unique tracks for your club nights, accompanied by the latest in live shows—think visual and special effects—as well as locations within venues that allow users to make the most of whatever photo apps they happen to have on their smartphones.

Generation Z is not going to be patient. Waiting for hours to get into restaurants, festivals, or clubs is going to be a big no-no, even more so than it is already. Luckily, a host of startups and new tech businesses are already looking into this, with Brazilian based startup Bloom being a prime example. Bloom uses a combination of technologies to help users enter venues, pre-pay for drinks, connect with other attendees and simultaneously share it all on social media. Your stamps for entry and paper tickets—if you are still using them— simply are not going to cut it.

Now is the time to get ready. Generation Z is just starting to get into the party now—clubs and bars across the world need to be prepared. You don’t want to be stuck in the twentieth century when Generation Z is thinking well into the future, so make sure your venues and nights are geared (teched) up and ready to go.

Expert Takes, Feature