Image credit:
Nico Roicke/
Image credit:
Nico Roicke/
Sports Business/05/15/2023

Conscious Millennials: What makes Generation TikTok tick?

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Culture clash on the labor market: "Conscious Millennials" and companies eye each other critically. The conscious new generation is often misunderstood, because they strive for more profound things than home office and work-life balance. Those who understand them and make targeted use of their qualities will benefit from them.

It is the fate of every generation to have to live in a world under conditions it did not create. This was once stated by John F. Kennedy. With his timeless analysis, the former U.S. president was undoubtedly right. So how disappointing would it be if a new generation did not revolt and come around the corner with fresh ideas and attitudes?

In addition to demographic change, it is the new talents who are bringing all kinds of dynamism to the world of work. In a commentary on the website of business coach Dirk Beiser, a 24-year-old describes how she feels about a job ad that tries to lure job seekers with a mandatory coffee flat, a fitness center contract and other benefits.

Benefits with yawn factor

"It still shocks me how many employers think that we - the followers of the notorious Generation Z - can be lured with corporate benefits á la table soccer and fruit basket. A deeper look into the working world of the young generation shows that, in terms of New Work, we opt for individualism instead of 08/15 everyday life, for personal responsibility instead of hierarchy, and for fair pay instead of fancy benefits," writes Katja, student and copywriter.

"Gen Z has grown up in a world that is digitally shaped and equipped. Their awareness and interconnectedness is global, but their self-image does not solely involve dealing with this technology, but also a world in transition. They have experienced that systems and concepts of life - professions, relationships, businesses, health - can also break down," says the new-work author and business psychologist Bettina Bohlmann in an interview with Corona, war, climate catastrophe - the belief in stability and that our economic system will fix everything is not in this generation's blood like it was in the generations before them.

Search for meaning beyond the monetary

Post-Millenials, Digital Natives or Generation TikTok - there are many comparatively superficial terms circulating for the 1995-2009 cohort. "Conscious Millennials," on the other hand, describes much more than the time of birth. They are committed to social and political issues, maintain a conscious lifestyle; sustainability, social justice and environmental protection are close to their hearts. They are aware that all their actions have an impact on their environment and therefore actively campaign for change - the best example being the climate protests of the "Last Generation".

Workaholic life, company car, lavish salary? No thanks!

The Deloitte Global 2022 Study on Generation Z and the Millennials generation emphasizes that self-fulfillment and balance are particularly important to young employees. Their work must have a deeper meaning for them. "They no longer believe in the sense of working their way up systematically over the long term," says Bettina Bohlmann. Instead, she says, they are more radical. "A job has to be coherent for them." Generation X grew up thinking that work was worthwhile: "A high salary, a company car, prosperity, and thus a lot of recognition from others - that's what they were striving for. For many, that was the symbol of real freedom. Conscious Millennials realize this completely differently."

Gen Z strives for self-realization and balance in the job
Image credit:
Markus Spiske/

Quality of life in the now

Many employers sound disturbed because today's talents are primarily concerned with their work-life balance. "To me, this discussion misses the point a bit," Bettina Bohlmann thinks. "It's about more than the demand for free time. The origin is rather that it is no longer worth waiting for anything. This generation has discarded the belief in working hard while at the same time sacrificing quality of life in order to be happy later on, she says.

Authentic brands can profit

Conscious Millennials look for work that suits them, that seems meaningful to them. Their choice of employer is based on their set of values. And the same goes for their consumer choices. "They are not only employees* of the future, but also buyers*," says Bohlmann. Companies could use the attitude of the young generation to check the credibility of their company. The global awareness that this generation brings with it, the sensitivity to issues such as health, well-being and climate, can help companies to develop further in this direction. That's why it makes sense to engage with young people on many levels. "Gen Z doesn't assume a world that's already finished, it doesn't have to be perfect. But they want to see people working on the issues."

Sustainability is becoming a status symbol for Gen Z consumers, also says brand consultant Fredrik Ekström in his "Sustainability Consumer Report 2023.". The Swede supports sustainability with his company "Above The Clouds" helps brands understand global drivers, value shifts and macro trends. His tip: "Because many consumers within Gen Z are unsettled, brands should Brands should prioritize education about the sustainability of their products to remove this barrier."

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21-year-old founds sustainable streetware fashion label

Luxembourg-born psychology student Oliver Droste, 21, is a typical Concious Millennial: After graduating from high school, the Berliner-by-choice traveled through Namibia, where he worked in an orphanage. At the end of 2022, he and his friends founded the streetware/sports brand Cafoempe SportsThe first collection is in the starting blocks. The target group: young adults between 18 and their late 20s. "I notice that most of my fellow students have a hobby with which they give free rein to their creativity. I've always been interested in design and aesthetics. That's why I started the streetwear brand." The casual urban design alludes to motion pictures like "La Haine" and "Matrix." The generation's values also come through in the name of the collection. "Jusqu'ici tout va bien" is its name. Loosely translated: Up to here, everything is good.

Sport as a source of strength for change

Why does Oliver Droste think he strikes a chord with his generation? "The sporty, coupled with sustainability and quality, plays a very big role for my generation." The motifs from Cafoempe Sports are embroidered and therefore more durable. Plastic packaging is avoided in shipping. "Our company logo with the two overlapping glasses also points to the way we look at the world, through which glasses, with which perspective."

Oliver Droste observes differences in the priorities set by different generations. For example, for some of today's teenagers and young adults, friends, leisure and sports play an even greater role than for previous generations, where working life took on a dominant role. A better work-life balance is therefore necessary, he says.

Conscious Millennials place great value on friends, leisure and sport
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A critical look also at sporting goods

Gen Z not only takes a more critical view of manufacturers and products, they also have a different relationship to sports in general. More individual sports are more in their focus than traditional team sports, which they consider too structured and antiquated. Health and fitness are extremely important to this digitally influenced generation, and they integrate social media and fitness apps into their daily sports routine.

For his generation, sports are the way to deal more calmly with everyday difficulties and make decisions, confirms Oliver Droste, who is very familiar with the sporting affinities of his cohorts.. "It's about finding a balance, including not being glued to digital devices all day." The sustainability aspect always plays a role for him and his friends when it comes to exercise, too: "We always walk to the gym, even though it's a long way. When we're out and about, we also pick up other people's trash sometimes. When shopping, we avoid packaging waste wherever possible." When he buys sporting goods, he feels "the reflex to look where the product was made. I inform myself as much as I can."

After graduation, Droste wants one thing above all: "A job where I can contribute and develop one hundred percent. I'd rather cut back on my salary, but I'll be able to put my ideas into practice." Home office and work-life balance - this generation is taking its destiny into its own hands.