All About M to Z
All About M to Z
  • Kim Yu-jeong (Web Editor)
  • 승인 2023.01.11 23:58
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When many companies do marketing these days, the term ‘MZ generation’ is never left out, and this shows the fact that how important that term is for companies. We are in our 20s and are the actual MZ generation. And we often wonder without knowing exactly what the term is, and what its characteristics are. So, ST interviewed two students of SSU who can represent the said generation. As members of the true MZ generation, they looked into their thoughts and how much they would sympathize with the characteristics of the MZ generation, as defined in society. It will be an opportunity to see whether you agree with it, and to think about it in a fun way. Soongsilians are the main characters of this magazine! Enjoy. ..................................Ed



ST, Kim Yu-jeong
ST, Kim Yu-jeong


 The ‘MZ generation’ is a term that can be easily found in our daily lives, and numerous news articles, advertisements, and broadcasts related to it prove its popularity. For people who frequently use social media such as Instagram, MZ generation is probably a familiar word. Then, how did this term come about? In general, MZ generation is used as a collective term for generation M born in the early 1980s to early 2000s and generation Z born in the mid-1990s to early 2000s. In other words, they are people in their 20s and 30s. According to the National Statistical Office, the population belonging to the MZ generation is about 17 million, accounting for 34 percent of the nation’s population.


# Get a Glimpse of the Term MZ Generation

l. What does M and Z in MZ Generation mean?

 ‘M’ is a word derived from the Millennial generation and is used to encompass the generation born in the early 1980s through the early 2000s. M means a free generation that focuses a lot on itself, while mainly working on mobile, after the first letters of the words ‘Mobile,’ ‘Myself,’ and ‘Movement.’ If the characteristics of M are expressed in short letters, it can be described as ‘Digital native.’ They show completely different values, lifestyles, and consumption behaviors from their parents’ generation. ‘Generation Z,’ born between 1995 and 2004, is commonly referred to as Z. One of the defining characteristics of Gen Z is the fact that they are the first generation to grow up in a world of smartphones and social media. Z likes to express itself in a mobile and Internet environment, and prefers to share their interests, consumption activities, and values.


2. When did the term MZ Generation begin to be used?

 It is difficult to explain exactly how the term MZ generation began, but it is only used in Korea. Going back to the time of the birth of the term MZ generation, in 2018, the book Trend MZ 2019 created by University Tomorrow’s 20 Research Institute began to use this term in earnest for marketing purposes. Since then, the term MZ generation has been actively accepted in the media and is still used in many media.


# Let’s Find out the Characteristics of the MZ Generation at a Glance

1. MZ Generation familiar with digital environments.

 The MZ Generation has no resistance to the digital environment, but rather has various hobbies in it, and expresses and records themselves using digital devices and technologies. Even around us, we can find people who use smartphones to film their daily lives, share them on social networking services, and communicate freely. In other words, the MZ generation has been exposed to the digital environment since childhood, so even in the learning environment, they are more familiar with digital devices than pencils, and more familiar with e-books and Internet news than textbooks and newspapers.


2. MZ Generation that values privacy.

 The MZ generation values their privacy and tends to strictly distinguish between public and private affairs. According to market research firm, Open Survey, 55.4% of millennials and 54.2% of Generation Z said they were stressed out about KakaoTalk being used for work because they had difficulty separating public and private tasks. In other words, the MZ generation wants to clarify the distinction between work and privacy and finds it uncomfortable for bosses to ask questions about their private lives.


3. MZ Generation that prefers horizontal organization culture.

 The way the MZ generation works is based on a horizontal communication and thinking system. Regardless of age and position, they want to communicate online through digital devices such as smartphones and want free and horizontal communication when at work. However, this does not mean that the MZ generation is reluctant to communicate with their bosses, but refuses to communicate in a one-sided manner, saying, “If your boss says so, do as he or her says.” In this regard, Lee Eun-hyung, a professor of Business Administration Department at Kookmin University, said, “Just because the MZ generation values horizontal communication, it does not mean that they reject organizational culture. The MZ generation understands what a competent and experienced leader does, although they discuss it freely and horizontally.”


4. MZ Generation that values one’s taste and personality.

 Recently, ‘Digging consumption’ has started spreading. It is otherwise known as deeply digging into its favorite areas, centering on the activities of the MZ generation. In other words, MZ generation’s digging consumption refers to digging deeply into preferred areas, consuming related products, and digging as if they were fans in various fields. The MZ generation actively acts to obtain information on products that match their tastes and personalities and feels pleasure in the process of finding information on specific products.


# Let’s Find out How the MZ Generation Is Thinking at a Glance

Q1. Please introduce yourself.

A1. Hello, I am currently taking a leave of absence from university and working parttime as an assistant instructor at an English academy.

A2. Yes, I agree. I haven’t worked at a company yet, but I have experienced something similar as above in a part-time job. In my part-time job, my boss has been asking me a lot about my personal life and personal stories. Of course, it may not be a bad thing to take because it’s an expression of familiarity, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing the details of my life with my boss.


Q2. One of the characteristics of the MZ generation is that it has no resistance to the digital environment and prefers to use digital devices or technology to record their daily lives and share them to communicate freely. Do you agree with this?

A1. Yes, I agree. I am currently using Instagram, a popular social media for the MZ Generation, and I share my daily life with my friends through Instagram stories and posts.

A2. Yes, I agree. When I have some free time, I enjoy watching YouTube videos, communicating with friends, and watching Instagram live streaming. What these activities have in common is that they take place in another space in the digital realm.


Q3. One of the characteristics of the MZ generation is that it wants to make a clear distinction between work and privacy, and it is also uncomfortable for the boss to ask questions about privacy. Do you agree with this?

A1. I haven’t had any experience related to this because I’ve only worked as a part-timer, but I also feel burdened about exchanging work-related messages through KakaoTalk. Personally, I feel uncomfortable with my boss or colleague looking at my KakaoTalk profile.

A2. Yes, I agree. I haven’t worked at a company yet, but I have experienced something similar as above in a part-time job. In my part-time job, my boss has been asking me a lot about my personal life and personal stories. Of course, it may not be a bad thing to take because it’s an expression of familiarity, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing the details of my life with my boss.


Q4. Do you possess any other characteristics of the MZ generation?

A1. When I have an interest, I think it suits the MZ generation, and I try to find information on that interest and implement it immediately. Also, it shows my fast adaptability without being afraid of dealing with new electronic devices and SNS.

A2. As far as I know, MZ Generations enjoy various activities alone, such as ‘Hon culture.’ (Hon culture is the rejection of the societal expectation to do things with a friend or an associate, and instead enjoying the freedom from doing things on your own terms.) In my case, I prefer to do a lot of things alone rather than spending time uncomfortably with other people who are not very close to me.


Q5. Or have you ever felt that you were not consistent with the characteristics of the group commonly referred to as the MZ generation?

A1. ‘Flex culture’ consumption patterns have been often seen in the MZ generation recently, and I think it is far from this culture of the MZ generation because I am still a student, and do not have a regular source of income. I don’t think I’m going to participate in this culture if I get a fixed income.

A2. I don‘t know. I don‘t think I‘m interested in the MZ generation itself. If I look at the characteristics of the MZ generation, I think “I see. But so what?”


Q6. Currently, many companies or public institutions are producing various contents and advertisements for the MZ generation. We are trying to capture the hearts of the MZ generation by actually mentioning the term MZ generation and using marketing directly. What do you think is the reason?

A1. I think it is appropriate to use marketing according to the consumption pattern of the MZ generation because it is now the main driving force of the country, rather than the Generation X and the Generation Y.

A2. Isn’t it because the main consumer class is the MZ generation? Well, it may be obvious, but I think the nonMZ generation will be somewhat older, and I think MZ, the main consumer group of companies today, will contribute more to improving their sales revenue.


# Let’s Find out the Problems with the Term MZ Generation

 On the other hand, the term MZ generation also causes confusion for many people. First, the opinion is that the scope is too wide. The landscape of an in-house conference is as follows. “We would like to investigate the trend of MZ generation for marketing our new products. If you are the MZ generation in our team, raise your hand.” Then all team members except Manager Kim raise their hands. Even the team leader raises his hand. Considering the age of the MZ generation, it ranges from 20s to 40s, but it is difficult to say that 20s and 40s are the same generation. The oldest of Generation M(Millennium Generation), born in 1981, is 42 years old this year, and the youngest of Generation Z, born in 2010, is 13 years old, and it could be a situation that only the same generation may exist in one family.

 In addition, the MZ generation is a combination of millennials born in 1980-2000s and Generation Z born in 1990- 2000s, and some people say it is not understandable that the two generations are grouped together. Although both Millennium Generation and Generation Z are original concepts in the British and American regions, the concept of the MZ Generation is used only in South Korea. There is an analysis that this concept is a term that comes from the process of interpreting the behavior of the younger generation that the older generation cannot understand by their standards. Lee Soo-jin, a senior researcher at Human Ecology Research Institute Seoul National University, said, ”I think it is due to the desire to distinguish and separate the younger generation. However, this is not just a product of the older generation. It is reflected that those called the MZ generation’s desire to have a boundary with the older generation, she explained.

 Moreover, there is an opinion that the MZ generation is a classification to ‘designate’ a specific group from the ‘outside’ rather than claiming to be ‘MZ’ themselves in the generation ‘inside.’ The MZ generation most frequently appears in the consumer market, politics, and media. Since the MZ generation accounts for 34.7% of the population, it is recognized as a special group with purchasing power and voting power by the ‚previous generation‘. Therefore, the MZ generations are not interested in it, and they cannot feel a sense of belonging because they think they have been comprehensively grouped into one group. Kim Seon-ki, a researcher at Sinchon Centre for Cultural-politics Research, said, ”The reason why companies use the MZ generation is that Z generation is new to society or students and have weak purchasing power, so, it is effective to market with the majority of Millennium Generation who has advanced into society and has excellent purchasing power.”. Moreover, he analyzes that the concept of the MZ generation is very efficient as a way to analyze the votes of ‚young people‘ in the political world, so they have been using it recently.

 The MZ generation accounts for about 42%, less than half of the global population, but in terms of the working population, it accounts for 2/3 of the total working population, making it the mainstay of economic activity. Since COVID-19, there have been major changes in the economy, society, and culture as a whole, ‘digital transformation’ based on non-face-to-face has occurred. With the changes in society where many things are done in the digital space, the MZ generation, which utilizes it best, has become a key age group in the post-COVID-19 era. They are leading socioeconomic changes by prioritizing their happiness and satisfaction and revealing new values suitable for the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution. In fact, ‘The Hyundai Seoul,’ which has established itself as a hot place for the MZ generation also excluded ‘department store’ from the store‘s name for the first time, judging that it was no longer attracted to the word and collaborate with famous singers by using various in line with consumption tendency. As such, it can be seen that companies are also changing in line with the MZ generation, the main consumer. Although the MZ generation is full of talk, it is clear that it has become an important part of Korean society.


Kim Yu-jeong (Web Editor)

Kim Tae-eun (Planning Editor)

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