The coronavirus outbreak in China is a shock not only for the global economy, but also for the new generation, ‘Generation Z’ (those born after 2004), sometimes also referred to as “the Homelanders” because they prefer spending time at home with their multiple digital platforms they use for both work and fun. Their home is their castle. High-speed internet and mobile apps are their channels to communicate with the outside world. They may be even born introverted to a degree, as well as overly sensitive, and often show high anxiety levels. It is easy to imagine how the coronavirus outbreak will affect their psyche when big cities, hundreds of millions of people become isolated, large events get canceled, plants become idle, and banknotes are being collected from the virus-hit sectors and destroyed.
The Homelanders do not think much about the offline economy, cash, conventional shopping or entertainment. So the first outbreak in their memory – quickly evolving in a pandemic – can kill whatever interest they have had in contributing to conventional economy (when they grow up and join the workforce). The coronavirus outbreak is an excellent opportunity to fully digitize whatever is left of the old economy and bring the risks of actually meeting with other people down to the necessary minimum. The quarantines and other restrictions have made the Homelanders around the world even more convinced that Netflix and other stream cinemas, online stores that deliver anything from food to medicine, and social media also guarantee absolute safety and protection against the coronavirus.
They see no reason to holding the Olympic Games, especially now; they rather see the event as a waste of money and unjustifiable risk. As far as they are concerned, competitions should be limited to e-sport. Tourism? Why bother when one can see it all on YouTube?
For most economists, the coronavirus outbreak is not the first in their career. The Baby Boomers and Generation X have seen the global economy collapse and rebound. For them, COVID 19 is just turbulence in the markets: some business sectors will suffer heavy losses, while others will benefit. Nothing personal, just business. But for the Homelanders, the opposite is true.
In recent years, marketers have been increasingly using the specifics of Generation Z to promote goods and services. They have actually just tested their strategies and finished evaluating the Homelanders as consumers when the COVID 19 broke out. But now, without waiting for a vaccine to be developed, the most visionary marketers and businesses are beginning to review their advertising budgets to accommodate the new generation. The most entrepreneurial people are aware that the Zoomers’ values are turning into a global economic trend right now. Generation Z is the one to decide exactly how introverted the new economy will be.
By Igor Pylayev, Co-Chair of the Delovaya Rossiya (Business Russia) Committee for the Development of the Film and Television Industry