Open up any newsfeed right now, and somewhere you’ll find Millennials and Baby Boomers butting heads. Meanwhile, Generation Z – entrepreneurial, digitally savvy, and defiantly individual – is waiting impatiently in the wings. All in all, generational differences are under scrutiny.
At first glance, these two demographics seem very similar. But there are crucial differences, which shouldn’t be ignored when marketing to millennials and Gen Z.
Who are we talking about?
As a general rule, Millennials were born in the late 80s/early 90s and hit adulthood in the noughties. Gen Z were born after about 1996.
Most millennials won’t have had a computer as a child, and social media did not exist until they were young adults. Gen Z, on the other hand, could type before they could handwrite, and have never known a world without the internet.
Though the timescale between the two generations may seem small, the difference that a digital childhood makes is beginning to become apparent. Particularly when it comes to marketing:
‘Underground’ vs ‘Overground’ Social Media Usage
Millennials were the ‘guinea pig’ generation, given total and unfettered access to the web before we were aware of the dangers lurking in cyberspace. We’re (a bit) wiser now, meaning that Gen Z have been brought up with more caution around social media postings. While Millennials will still splash themselves around in the public spaces of Facebook and Twitter, Gen Z are more likely to go ‘underground’, using private Whatsapp groups and Snapchat to check in with their mates
- Reach Millennials by: Millennials still engage with public online spaces. That means conventional social media marketing will reach them.
- Reach Gen Z by: While they may take their conversations ‘underground’, Gen Z are more likely than Millennials to share content from their favourite social media personalities. As a result, influencer marketing is a good way to reach them. For how to do it well, take a look at our six steps to successful influencer marketing.
Millennials remember the slower pre-internet world so, while they’ve got used to the ‘on demand’ culture of nowadays, they don’t necessarily expect it as standard. Not so Gen Z. Generation Z wants what it wants, and it wants it now. Streaming TV is a great example. Millennials will still wait a week for a new episode of their favourite series, while Gen Z want to gorge on the whole series in one go.
- Reach Millennials by: Creating great quality stuff, which they can enjoy and share with their friends via multiple channels.
- Reach Gen Z by: All of the above, but don’t make them wait. Maintain interest by drip-feeding micro-content.
Both generations are ethically motivated, and both are boycott-happy. If your brand is less than squeaky clean, be prepared to be shunned. Brands which can demonstrate a commitment to environmental and social improvement, however, are at a huge advantage with these markets.
- Reach both by: Drop the plastics, abandon palm oil, shrink your carbon footprint and demonstrate diversity. Good brand ethics will make the younger markets turn to you.
As the line between ‘authentic’ and ‘fake’ blurs, reality is increasingly prized. Millennials were the first generation to really object to marketing fakery, protesting against airbrushed models and celeb publicity stunts. Gen Z take this a step further by disengaging from brands that won’t push aside the smoke and mirrors and show them the human face beneath.
- Reach Millennials by: Offering an authentic, realistic, and achievable image of what your product is/can do.
- Reach Gen Z by: Marketing via genuine, relatable human beings, who are prepared to engage directly with audiences.
Millennials have lived their entire working lives under recession conditions, which can make them a tough market to engage. They don’t have as much spare cash as previous generations. Gen Z are less cash-conscious and more likely to click ‘buy’ on impulse rather than hunting down the best deal – but it’s worth remembering that they’re still pretty young.
- Reach Millennials by: Making yourself financially competitive (delivery discounts go down well!), without patronising your market. They may not have much money, but they are adults!
- Reach Gen Z by: This one’s a bit of a waiting game. What we know is that, having seen how degrees failed to help recession-hit Millennials, Gen Z are set to enter the workplace younger than their predecessors did. They’re also very financially determined.
Ironically, the key thing which binds these two groups is an insistence on individuality. While there are broad similarities within the ‘Millennial’ and ‘Gen Z’ demographics, the two groups are by no means homogenous. Both groups prize individuality highly and aren’t afraid to follow the beats of their own, unique drums.
- Reach both demographics by: Personalising. Really drill down into the myriad Millennial and Gen Z subcultures, find out what makes your audience tick on as close to an individual level as you can get. And tailor your marketing accordingly.
Want to target more of your marketing towards Millennials or Gen Z, but not sure where to start? Then one of our freelancers could be the ideal solution. Give us a call on 0207 632 8809 or dropping us a line here to find out more.