Just as communicators are starting to ‘get’ millennials, there’s a follow-on cohort, Generation Z. While there’s debate about the age range of Gen Z, we’ll define it here as those born from 1995 to now, meaning anyone 21 or younger. As a communicator you can think of Gen Z-ers as the poor man’s millennials and treat them as you did their predecessors. This is a mistake. It’s better to see them as young evolutionaries. Of the characteristics that will influence how brands interact with this group, the most important may be Gen Z’s sway over family spending (more on this below). These toddlers, tweens and teens represent 28% of the population. In four years this is expected to be 40%. While the implications for communicators are clear, a paradigm shift makes Gen Z’s influence even greater. Unlike their predecessors, they have more sway over not just their piggy bank but family spending. It started with putting Gen Z in the driver’s seat for low-stakes purchases and has evolved into many Gen Z-ers making family decisions for tech devices, vacation and cars. In terms of back-to-school buying, a 2015 National Retail Federation survey found 10% of parents admit their children influence 100% of what they buy, up from 8% in 2014.