Where technology’s proliferation increasingly gave millennials a voice with which they could interact with brands, Gen Z are now moving one step further. They don’t respond to brands; brands respond to them. This new power shift has already initiated a flurry of smaller changes, such as the increased co-creation and customisation of products, crowdsourced campaigns and the rise of micro-influencers that shun the spotlight over big celebrities that openly court fame.
Subtle drivers are impacting brand manoeuvres worldwide as they come to terms with the notion of being reactive, existing in a climate of ‘opt in’ or ‘opt out’. Nobody is falling in line and simply doing as told. Where once a systemic framework drove the formation, cohesion and continued existence of an ecosystem, that same framework is now being broken, and new bridges being built, in a way that will radically alter the way our consumptive society functions, if not transforming it altogether. Indeed, many old institutions have already been caught out and forced to change the foundations of their ideas and communications. Others, too slow to react and too complacent in the status quo, have collapsed entirely.
Major changes are happening inside the old hierarchies that once arranged and organised our society. The “ascending authority” – younger generations leading trends and movements from the bottom up – are now becoming astute listeners, confident decision makers and pragmatic movers. From magazine publications and fashion houses to tech circles and even political parties, the old guard is waking up to an uncomfortable proposition; prepare for replacement, by choice or by force. The new wave has opened the door and is in the boardroom, and they’re not there to gain a better view. They’re there to hold their own conversation, and to keep the door open for the next group.