When it comes to marketing, Millennials and Gen Z are often grouped together, but each group responds to offers and marketing campaigns differently. Since both generations consist of a younger audience, many companies believe one campaign strategy is enough to engage both groups, but there are key differences between what motivates them, what their spending habits are, and what they’re looking for in a product. Understanding these differences will help us craft the right message on the right channels so we can target them effectively.
Who Are Millennials and Gen Z?
Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1996. They range from ages 26 to 41 and are the last generation to know and remember what life was like before the internet and gadgets became mainstream necessities. Millennials represent about a quarter of the US population.
Gen Z are those born between 1997 and 2012. They range from ages 10 to 25 and are the first generation to not remember a life without the internet and social media. Gen Z’s are the youngest, most ethnically diverse generation to date, making up 27% of the US population.
What Are the Key Differences Between Millennials and Gen Z?
Online shopping habits
While Millennials watched the digital world develop, Gen Z was born into it. They are known as the first generation of “digital natives,” meaning that they learned, made friendships, and grew up online. With a mobile-first mindset, Gen Z is twice as likely to make a purchase on their mobile device compared to Millennials. However, 71% of Millennials say they prefer to use their smartphones when shopping online, so mobile optimization is key to meeting both audiences’ expectations.
Social media usage
Millennials and Gen Z spend similar amounts of time on social media but use that time differently. The most popular social media platforms for Millennials are Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, while Gen Z’s are mostly video-based platforms, like Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. Given that Millennials use various types of platforms, it’s worth repurposing your marketing message into both written and video content, and for Gen Z, focusing on video content that’s fun and direct.
While Millennials were raised during an economic boom, Gen Z grew up during a recession which has caused them to be more frugal with their spending. Millennials are more prone to buying products and services that will give them a positive experience, whereas Gen Z tends to be more interested in saving money. They value purchases that maximize every dollar, so focusing on high-quality investments and offering deals and bonuses (like free shipping or freebies) is a smart strategy.
Authenticity in branded content
Both Gen Z and Millennials appreciate brands that are authentic and transparent, but it tends to be a higher priority for those in Gen Z. Gen Z likes ads to show real people discussing products rather than celebrities endorsing a brand or business, and they prefer to learn about products on social media, through videos or influencer marketing. Millennials respond better to online ads, long-form video content, social media ads, and branded podcasts. While Millennials will readily trust and make purchases from traditional advertisements, Gen Z would be more willing to buy after watching their favorite influencer describe a sustainable, cost-effective product.
Gen Z has an attention span of just 8 seconds, a few seconds shorter than millennials, who pay attention to content for 12 seconds. They prefer quick or short-form video content, like Snapchat, Instagram Reels, or Tik Tok, while Millennials enjoy long-form content, such as detailed videos or podcasts. This means that if your primary target is Millennials, you can get away with slightly longer videos than those who market for Gen Z, which wants to get their value proposition as quickly as possible.
How to Market to Each Generation
Millennials and Gen Z have a lot of similarities but it’s important to develop strategies tailored to each generation. Below are some key takeaways.
Millennials are a powerful market when it comes to buying power and influence. Be relevant and do your target audience research carefully. Talk to them where they spend most of their time and ask yourself which stages of life are they at? Since millennials are a diverse group, detailed research within the generation is crucial.
- Multimedia content
- Long-form video content: Facebook, YouTube or Instagram
- Branded podcasts
- Entertainment and experience-focused
To reach Gen Z, say goodbye to traditional marketing methods and hello to new strategies. As you’re adapting your business to the younger generation, consider which aspects of your marketing strategy fit for a Gen Z revamp. Could you be more open about important causes you’ve supported and how? Do you need to rethink your approach to video content? Are there any influencers with strong ties to Gen Z you could team up with?
- Influencer marketing
- Short-form video content: Tik Tok, Instagram Reels/Stories, or YouTube
- Mobile-only content
- Cost-effectiveness and long-term value
Keep In Mind
Individual generations are still very diverse within themselves so it’s important to understand who will be receptive to your product or service. Creating buyer personas is a great way to keep your information organized and will help you develop strategies around each specific audience or age group. Need help forming your Gen Z or Millennial-focused marketing strategy? Contact us!