For Generation Z, back-to-school trends driven by the need for Agility – –
As Generation Z heads back-to-school for 2015-2016, I’ve been feverishly tracking the incredibly innovative back-to-school trends – in fashion, technology, supplies and overall Gen Z behavior. Let me tell you: it’s not “back”-to-school, it’s ‘back” to the future. These products are hardly the dusty notebooks scraped off the shelf during a late night run to Wal-Mart, they are specifically designed around Gen Z’s growing demand for Agility.
What do I mean by Agility? As the first generation to be totally digital and mobile since birth, Gen Z wants their lifestyles – their clothing, their schedules, even their identities – to be as agile and mobile as their data. It’s synchronous with “don’t define me”. Gen Z is embracing breakthrough trends that resonate with their overall need for a certain type of lifestyle, a lifestyle filled with products that allow for Agility in their lives.
Products with Agility give Gen Z the ability to move gracefully to and from anywhere, anytime, anyway they please. Products or situations that offer Agility don’t over-express, they under-express for the agile Gen Z who does not want to be defined or commit.
Here are three examples of how Agility is driving today’s back-to-school trends:
- Gender Neutral Clothing – Agility in What You Wear
We are seeing gender free clothing for the younger Gen Zer’s and the young adults, allowing youth to avoid any labels, giving them Agility to dress as they please. We’ve spotted stereotype free and gender free clothing for younger Gen Z’s and young adults, allowing youth to avoid gender labels, and be agile so they can express themselves for who they are.For the elementary to middle schoolers, clothing brands like BuddingSTEM have a gender stereotype-bashing mission. That’s right, girls are free to ace STEM, having the agility to break out of stereotypes and do what they want. Boys can wear pink or purple too.For the older teen Gen Zer’s who go for junior or adult lines, there’s a huge trend emerging in the fashion industry – higher end, unisex and gender free clothing. According to Lucie Greene, the worldwide director of JWT Intelligence, the trend-forecasting arm of J. Walter Thompson. “Among the cohort of 12-to-19-year-olds defining Generation Z, the lines between male and female are becoming increasing blurred. Like Millennials, Gen Z does not want to be stereotyped, or told how to dress.
2. Fewer Lockers – Agility in Where You Hang
Like many Gen Zer’s, my two have more e-books and online subscriptions and fewer books each year. Time.com cites this as the disappearing locker trend that is picking up steam. As the lockers free up precious yet seriously awesome social hallway space, schools may build charging stations for laptops (oh no, chargers). This gives students Agility to charge up, hang out or study wherever they want to – with their boyfriend, BFF, girlfriend and hopefully a teacher.
3. Overscheduled Life – Agility to Do it All
Gen Zer’s born in the late 1990’s have already headed off to college and many couldn’t imagine college life without the latest technology, gadgets that make their insanely busy life faster, smoother and easier. They barely survived the intense pressure of high school (pressure from Tiger Mom or Gen X parents), so please, I hope they add a dose of fun to the 24/7 agenda of performance enhancing and academic or career building events they MUST attend. Thus, more stuff, less time requires more agility to get around. Products like the Acton Rocketskates help Gen Zer’s rocket around the clock as they please.
Other back-to-school trends represent Agility but also some rigidity such as more free lunches, more uniforms, and more custom (eg gluten free) lunches. The back-to-school market for Gen Z is a market exploding with mobility, technology, neutrality and innovation. Not only has back-to-school spending increased over the past 10 years, but the Gen Z influence is also increasing. I predict that back-to-school products will become more revolutionary, more agile and harder for the older generations to understand. But for this school year, if you want to reach Gen Z, put some Agility into your brand.