Gen Z: Preparing for the Postmillennial Association Member


Millennials have been dominating the generational conversation for quite some time.  Organizations have spent a fair amount of time strategizing around this enigma of an age group – trying to find the best way to get these tech-savvy, self-driven individuals on board.  While prepping for their arrival is time well spent, it is also imperative that associations brace themselves for this generations’ successors.

Introducing the postmillennial association member: Generation Z.  By 2020, Gen Z will account for approximately one-third of the entire U.S. population, and their consumer preferences and marketplace behaviors will have more profound impacts on organizations than their millennial predecessors. This group consists of individuals born in 1995 or later – and this year the first round of this group just turned 21.  They are on their way to an organization near you (or yours).

The good news is that planning for their arrival will be slightly less daunting than it was for their millennial friends.  These generations share many similar characteristics, so strategizing won’t feel like uncharted territory.  The even better news is, the qualities they share are only the positive ones.

Job security

Unlike their millennial counterparts growing up in the high times of the 90’s, this crew is more conscientious of their financial surroundings being the only times they know began in the financial crash following 9/11 and the Great Recession that quickly followed suit.  These individuals recognize that hard work is imperative for their success, so job security ranks high on their wish list.

An association is in a great spot for pitching and appealing to them in this regard.  Associations are the foundation of professional development, job leads and ensuring members become the experts in their field.  Showing them that they should associate themselves with your mission will be an easy sell because you can promise them all the cutting edge info driving the industry and get them in touch with all the leaders and innovators piloting their desired professions.

Instant gratification

Also very similar to their millennial predecessors, information moves fast in their world – in fact, even faster on their watch.  Their social media apps of preference are the likes of Snapchat and Whisper – which both involve the idea of “temporary” messaging and imaging – with frequent updates and requiring only short attention spans.  This generation thinks in the short-term – and wants to know how this will impact them now.

When selling a membership to this group, think in shorter terms when it comes to developing a benefit plan.  Explaining to them how this will impact their retirement or benefit them in 20 years will cause them to glaze over.  How this can help kick start their career now will grab their attention.  By signing with your organization now, how will this put a paycheck in their pocket?


When dealing with Generation Z, it is also good to remember to get personal.  This world grew accustomed to having all things tailored to their needs thanks to technology.  They don’t know a world where a smartphone didn’t exist.  They have customized apps for everything – they pick what news they want to read, they personalize their own product features and even have their own personal music playlists.  If you want them as an association member, you have to find a way to make sure they have a membership that is suited specifically to their needs.

When strategizing around a new membership package, consider allowing an a la carte version.  Allow Gen Z to pick and choose which benefits suit their needs, rather than a standard listing.  While incorporating them into the decision-making process, associations see a greater buy in, because each option was chosen specifically to suit the individual.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” By understanding how this next generation operates, creating a favorable future will be as e-“Z” as the generation that’s on the horizon.

MultiView Team Expert Julie Bernhard

Julie Bernhard

News Briefs Executive Editor

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