The mind-set and expectations of Generation Z – and how the Construction Industry wants to react

Diversity marketing for different generations starts with analysing their specific needs and expectations and adapting your propositions accordingly. BSRIA, a non-for-profit organisation for the construction and building services industry, has now issued a White Paper on ‘Products and Systems for Generation Z in Reduced Carbon Buildings’, specifically discussing: what products and systems will be used in reduced carbon buildings in the future by the ‘smart’ generation. “The key items of the paper provide a blue-print for other industries to start thinking about how they will want to relate to GenZ”, comments Diversity expert, Michael Stuber, the results.

Sometimes described as the “first tribe of true digital natives” or “screenagers”, Generation Z (born from the mid-1990s to the present day) are characterised as smarter and more prudent than their Generation Y predecessors. They are empowered, have more job choices, seek freedom of movement and flexible working policies. They are the ‘see it – want it’, ‘touch it – get it now’ generation. When it comes to living infrastructure, e.g. heating and cooling systems, they expect them to just work, without any effort on their part.

With a wider view on Generation Z, the paper examined question including: how can the value of buildings be improved in order to raise productivity and wellbeing for their occupiers and at the same time generate new revenue streams for suppliers? What will be the expectations of Generation Z – the ‘smart’ generation? What does the construction and building services industry need to do to deliver on these expectations and to achieve the reduced CO2 targets over the next 10 years at the same time?

What will be the expectations of Generation Z – the ‘smart’ generation?

When asked about expectations of buildings, Generation Z want devices that are aesthetically pleasing and want to know immediately when there is something wrong in the building and, ideally, have the problem fixed immediately. They also want choice and it will be important for them to be able to choose their providers based on advice and transparency over cost of products and services. Regarding technology, they want simplified, flexible products, which are easily manageable because they themselves lack the skills to get involved in the detail. In short, they want passive system management.

What does the construction and building services industry need to do to deliver these expectations and to achieve the reduced CO2 targets over the next 10 years?

Julia Evans, Chief Executive at BSRIA, said: “Generation Z has also been characterised as the ‘sharing not the owning generation’. Therefore, there will need to be more options for renting and leasing rather than buying, due to higher capital costs. In relation to an uncertain energy future, Generation Z can see the immediate benefit of recycling“. According to her, this generation requests to ‘keep it simple’ and the construction and building services industry needs to offer intelligent solutions that are more modular as well as being capable of being interconnected into a system to provide a global view. Therefore, products have to be standardised on how they communicate information between themselves. The intelligence should be built into the controls and software.

What products and services will be required to achieve these objectives?

Julia Evens added: “There was a general consensus that hybrid technologies would become dominant. Generation Z seem much happier to buy a service than own a product. This includes buying a solution to solve an energy-related problem, rather than the tangible product itself. Suppliers will, therefore, have to change their ‘modus-operandi’ to accommodate this stance“. She explains that it was also found that there was a need for smarter, more connected products which were simple for both contractors and end-users. According to her, Generation Z would want the latest technology, with quick, tangible results but with little or no additional costs. „There should be a focus on service – it is big business!” she adds.

The paper was developed for BSRIA’s Diamond Group Forum EU 3/2015 at the ISH exhibition in Frankfurt and written by Jeremy Towler, Senior Manager, Energy & Smart Technologies, BSRIA Worldwide Market Intelligence from data collected at the ISH in March 2015. BSRIA’s Diamond Group consists of a BSRIA network of senior executives. BSRIA is a non-for-profit testing, instrumentation, research and consultancy organisation, providing specialist services in construction and building services engineering.