Recruiting the New Generations: Gen Z and “Zillennials”
We typically associate the idea of the youngest grouping of adults being Millennials. As of 2022, Millennials are reaching their late 30s and early 40s. Gen Z and Zillennials are officially the new kids on the block.
Zillennials, the generation of children who grew up with a technological mix of dial-up internet and Facebook, are the in-betweens that are now graduating college and entering the work force. Their younger cohort, Gen Z, the children who grew up with iPads, are beginning to graduate high school and turn 18 years old.
Now that we have a flood of new adults entering the scene, they are eligible to participate in many clinical trials. These new adults aren’t their Millennial elders and are far removed from Gen X and the Baby Boomer generations, so new recruitment tactics and strategies need to be implemented to gain their interest.
Every generational sect has characteristics that define and label what principles are held in the highest regard to them. With Gen Z and Zillennials, there is a strong integration with diverse lifestyles. Gen Z is expected to be the last predominately white generation and more open-minded than previous generations. Their childhood and formative years had a progressive backdrop such as experiencing the election of the nation’s first black president and the legalization of gay marriage. We can expect that diversity, equity, and inclusion agendas will resonate strongly with this generation. Showcasing this focus will draw appreciation and interest from these young adults. Diversity goals in protocols paired with inclusionary recruitment materials will be a necessary and tactical move for sponsors and CROs.
Appeal to the “Side-Hustle”
Gen Z and Zillennials are being identified as entrepreneurs and putting great emphasis on financial security. Small side gigs, or ‘side-hustles’ to bring in additional supplemental income are common in these groups of young adults. It is estimated that more than half of the currently working Gen Z population is earning their income from more than one source. With increasing college tuition, student loans, and mortgage rates, this population is searching for additional financial security. Offering monetary compensation for time and travel will be a strong motivator for deciding to enroll in a clinical trial for these generations. It would be recommended to provide all compensation at the end of the trial to ensure retention.
These groups of young adults grew up either during or right after the technology boom. Growing up with a computer in the home, the emergence of smart phones, and the expansion of Wi-Fi has molded these generations to have tight ties with technology and the digital world. Many Gen Z and Zillennials have extensive technological fluency and are accustomed to receiving information and communications in the digital space. The methods of reaching these individuals should be focused on digital mediums. Social media, search engines, and smart phone apps are strong options to engage and interest these potential new patients. Outside of the beginning stages of recruitment, DCTs and hybrid trials will pull in interest and likely be the preference for Gen Z and Zillennial adults.
As Gen Z and Zillennials continue to create and define their personal adult eras, the clinical trial industry should keep a close eye on development. While there are aspects to these groups that are expected to stay, we should expect growth and change to affect them as it has with previous generations. Clinical trial participation over the years has been heavily watched to predict and prepare for upcoming challenges. Most notably, recruitment has improved over the past decade, though retention has taken a large hit across almost all clinical indications. To reverse this trend, identifying preferences with these younger generations may not only help fill trials, but may bridge the gap between generations.