Jan 07, 2020

Gen Z vs. Millennials, what is the difference?

When trying to reach younger audiences, too many businesses make the mistake of generalising Gen Z and millennials, a more focused campaign will ensure engaged and loyal consumers.

  • Although Gen Z and many millennials are classified as ‘young adults’, and while they do share a connection to technology and the internet, these similarities are not enough to justify brands cutting corners and marketing to them as a collective.
  • Generally, Gen Z is classified as those born between 1996-2010 and millennials from 1981 to 1996.
  • When considering the largest age difference between the two generations, the oldest millennials would be approaching 40, potentially settled down with a family and looking to make large purchases, e.g. houses or cars. On the other hand, the youngest Gen Z is just 10 years old and will not be making personal purchases.

“By the end of 2020, millennials will make up 35% of the global workforce, with Gen Z making up 24%. This equates to more than half the entire workforce population!”

So, how are they different?


Attitudes towards technology:

This is perhaps the most obvious difference between each generation. As millennials will remember all too well, they grew up using VCR and DVD players, large personal computers and brick mobile phones. At the time, these technological advancements were groundbreaking, but growing up as Gen Z looks very different.

Generally, the majority of Gen Z children and teens will have access to laptops, smartphones, Wi-Fi, and endless films at their disposal thanks to streaming services. Some of this generation have even grown up in households that have access to early smart home technology e.g. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Therefore, the key takeaway is, while millennials witnessed the inception of this innovation, Gen Z experienced it straight away and the impact of this has taken a toll. Gen Z is considered the loneliest generation who deal with more body image, mental health and cyberbullying issues than any other generation.

Mobile purchasing:

Gen Z spends approximately 10 hours online per day and as a result, they have a mobile-first mindset which can impact the way they shop. Gen Z is twice as likely to make online mobile purchases than millennials.

Online content consumption for millennials and Gen Z is quite similar as both generations spend a lot of their free time watching videos and visiting social media platforms. Key trends throughout 2019 were mobile optimisation and video content, and when looking at both generations' online consumption, it becomes more justified that these strategies can be used to target the age groups collectively. However, within this, there is still an opportunity to personally cater to each group.

Social Media:

Millennials would have experienced platforms like MySpace, Tumblr and Bebo which have now either been discontinued or rarely used. Generally, following this they tend to populate Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. However, Gen Z is mainly focused on the more visual platforms, especially video-based platforms, like Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and new to the scene, TikTok.

Nevertheless, an opportunity for marketers to target the masses is through mutual platforms, Instagram and YouTube. Youtube is a platform that both generations populate as many will turn to this site for product tutorials and research. 

Attention towards ads:

By looking at the social platforms each generation populates a link can be identified between their attention span to ads. For millennials who read articles on LinkedIn or threads on Twitter, they will generally value long-form content like podcasts and detailed videos. Whereas, Gen Z tune in on TikTok's short videos and Instagram Stories, demonstrating their enjoyment for short and punchy forms of video content.

For marketers, this is crucial as it highlights the marketing difference to each group. Millennials will respond positively to slightly longer, more in-depth content and Gen Z want to receive value instantly and seamlessly.

Although there are opportunities to advertise to both generations within one campaign, there is value in brands taking the time to pinpoint how to alter their marketing efforts so that they can appeal to each in a more focused manner. By doing this, brands will draw attention from the correct audience and in turn, receive more loyal and engaged consumers.