Do retailers need teen consultants to really understand Gen Z?
The Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League are used to working with young men. The team’s latest hire, however, is younger than any of its recent draft picks or free agents. He’s 18-year-old Jonah Stillman, co-author of “Gen Z @ Work: How the Next Generation is Transforming the Workplace.” Mr. Stillman has been hired by the Vikings as a consultant to help the organization better understand and market to his Gen Z peers.
“Jonah has approached his career as a Gen Z advisor, author and speaker with professionalism and passion, and as a lifelong Vikings fan that lives in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market, he has a rare perspective that we believe can positively impact our organization and our younger fan base,” said Kevin Warren, chief operating officer of the Vikings, in a statement. “We look forward to collaborating with Jonah on his unique insights and thoughtful research.”
Mr. Stillman will consult with the team in a wide variety of areas, including team marketing, digital media content and strategy, the fan experience at U.S. Bank Stadium and workplace culture.
He contends that Gen Z, which covers people born between 1995 and 2012, is much different than the Millennial generation due to the influence of technological developments and the Great Recession.
“Many leaders and organizations tend to blend us in with the Millennials, which is a huge mistake,” he told the Star Tribune. “While Gen Z is the most tech savvy generation to date, leaders must understand that we are socializing in new ways. First, we are much more private when it comes to using social media, which means we are using social media in new ways. Gen Z’ers are after more exciting and private platforms.”
People in his generation are drawn to social media apps such as Snapchat that offer “more control over who sees our posts,” he told the paper.
Authentic communication, according to Mr. Stillman, is big with Gen Z’ers in their social and professional lives, citing a national study that said 84 percent of those surveyed “prefer face-to-face communication” over other forms because it is more authentic.
- Vikings Engage Author and Speaker Jonah Stillman to Serve as Team’s Gen Z Advisor – Minnesota Vikings
- Minnesota Vikings hire 18-year-old consultant to connect with Gen Z – Minneapolis Star Tribune
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Have retailers and brands been guilty of lumping Millennials and Gen Z together? Is the Minnesota Vikings approach to understanding Generation Z applicable to retailers and brands?