Tapping into the Chutzpah of Nigeria’s Generation Z


“Youth culture is constantly evolving, and Gen Z in particular is disrupting industries. Gen Z represents an unprecedented group of innovation and entrepreneurship. This group is focused on niche interests and if brands do not recognise this now and get on board, they are going to be left behind. It’s also important for brands to adopt a global mindset, as some of the most significant growth is taking place in countries that are either developing or underdeveloped.”

Gregg L. Witt, The Gen Z Frequency: How Brands Tune in and Build Credibility

This week has seen the Nigerian populace become more aware of the attributes of a large section of the society, globally referred to as Generation Z (Gen Z). Gen Z are those born between 1995 and 2010, and their parents mostly fall within the Baby Boomer (1946 to 1964) and Generation X (1964 -1980) age groups.

What about them? This article explores who they are, what they believe in, why, how they behave, and provides insights that businesses and society can adopt to tap into their enormous potential.

Gen Zs were born during the dot com era and were raised on technology. They witnessed the election of Barrack Obama, rise of gender equality, sexual orientation equality, shared family responsibilities, and collective volunteerisms. However, they were born into a deeply troubled system, a time of worldwide terrorism attacks, Arab uprisings, effects of climate change and a great recession. This generation (c.32% of world’s population) have come of age to shape policies and open doors they were locked out of.

For them, diversity, self-expression, and individuality are valued. They are actively engaged in public discourse, call out injustice, and wrongness around the world using technology to amplify their voices. They believe it is up to them to take the actions Millennials are too timid to take. They stay informed and are often cynical about religion, politics, relationships, education, capitalism, and security. Since Nigeria’s Gen Zs did not witness the totalitarianism of colonial and military rule, they are largely pro-freedom of speech and not scared of its consequences.

Statistically, Gen Z is the most prevalent in Nigeria. Nigeria’s age structure indicates over 25% of our population belongs to Gen Z, i.e. 1 in every 4 Nigerian – see graph below (Source: CIA World Factbook).

The Business dimension to Gen Z

This stratum of the population holds a lot of promise for businesses, governments, and society depending on how well these stakeholders recognise their peculiarities. It will take some level of humility to step back and plan towards leveraging their energy and creativity. So where are the opportunities?

Pricing and E-Commerce

At the core of their being is cost minimisation. The average Nigerian Gen Z would consider the cost of any product before considering the quality. Using their smart phones, Gen-Zs are more likely to prefer online and e-Commerce businesses to traditional markets; usually on the lookout for deals, consciously sorting the lists from cheapest to the most expensive are evidence of their cost-cutting behaviour.

They actively seek alternatives that yield similar quality but at better price and as a result, a vital strategy to hold this consumer segment is undercutting the competition. However, they would not mind paying a premium if the service being delivered is better than cheaper alternatives. A strength they have that businesses need to tap is their ability to refer and drive sales.

Referrals and Discounts

Referrals and discounts are another means to getting their attention as they actively seek deals and are more easily influenced by their peers than other generational groups. Business models that incorporate reward-based referrals are likely to become more popular with them. These referrals by a population that is active on the internet with a compounding international reach would likely do more advertisement on behalf of the company. Piggyvest is an example of a platform that has thrived with this approach.

Time-bound discounts also give the fear of missing out, a recipe for impulsive spending decision for a generation that wants to be on top of things.

Brand Identity and Social Media Presence

“When the economy crashed, Chicken Republic considered the youths and started selling meals at N500. Now, they share meals to the #EndSARS protesters at Lekki Toll Gate. My dear if you’re hungry, please go and patronize because Chicken Republic is the best restaurant in Nigeria”. – @Cocoh_mma via Twitter.

Being a generation whose online and personal identity are equally important, this generation holds in high regard the social media presence and corporate social responsibility actions brands. Gen Zs love to lend their voice to everything and ensure they are heard. Likewise, they expect brands that they do business with to do the same.

Short Ads – attention span

Usually intrusive, ads do not appeal to Gen Z who have a short attention span as a result of a reduction in dopamine levels when the ads cut the interesting thing they were immersed in, usually on their mobile phones. If Ads are not brief and interesting, it either receives backlash on social media which ironically brings more reach to the brand as sometimes any publicity could be good publicity.

Leverage on technology

Another way to engage this large demography of potential customers is to adopt systems that make the user experience seamless. Again, this generation is comfortable working remotely, having access to services at little cost is important to keep them. The use of digital currency as a medium of exchange is beginning to catch up. Many Gen Zs are now keeping their money in digital assets. Therefore, having outlets that support cryptocurrency transaction may lead to increased patronage.

In conclusion, Nigerian schools, businesses, and societal systems must accommodate the changing ideologies espoused by Gen Zs. A booming young population can induce substantial economic growth. However, if healthcare, education, and economic needs are not met, there would be chronic youth unemployment, low productivity, and social unrest. Investing in human capital is crucial in the formation of a productive society.

• Tunji Adegbite (MBA, FCCA, MCIPS) has over 13years’ expertise across Strategy, Supply Chain and Finance from PwC and an International Oil Company (IOCs). In order to expand his passion for facilitating knowledge sharing from an African context, he founded Naspire (www.naspire.com), a social research and business strategy platform using contextual knowledge to help entrepreneurs and professionals in Africa succeed. He can be reached via tunji@naspire.com

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