Gen Z & Millennials: How are they different, how are they the same?
Social Media Influencer
In this week’s blog post we will explore how marketing to Gen Z and millennials differs and why understanding the distinction between the two groups is important. They have different spending habits, senses of humor, and lifestyles, and grew up in different eras, all of which impact how they respond to advertisements. In the present day, many brands have adopted a marketing strategy that targets Gen Zers because they are the youth of today and because they are the most tech-savvy generation to date.
Gen Zers and millennials are two groups that are often conflated, especially by brands looking to sell products. It comes as no surprise as the line between millennials and Gen Z can sometimes be unclear or insignificant if clear.
As a general rule of thumb, millennials refer to those people born between 1981 and somewhere between 1994-1996 depending on the source used.
Gen Z refers to people born between 1996 (under most definitions) and 2012; so simply put, Gen Z can be and often are the children of millennials. Of course, these two generations grew up in different periods of history and had access to different levels of technology depending on how early or late they were born, but generally speaking, Gen Zers are who come to mind when you think about TikTok and Snapchat while millennials are those associated with Facebook.
How exactly do these two generations compare and differ? Let us explore this!
It should come as no surprise that the spending habits of Gen Zers and millennials are different given the fact that they occupy different age brackets. The preferred social media apps for Gen Z (TikTok/Snapchat) and millennials (Facebook) also influence their spending habits.
Millennials: Understanding these generations is critical to any marketing strategy because, and this may come as a surprise, they are the largest generation by pure numbers in history, even larger than the baby boomers two generations before them. This makes them a critical demographic to target because they also have more disposable income and subsequent purchasing power than Gen Zers who have not worked as long or at all.
Millennials tend to value brand loyalty, that is, if they have a positive experience with a company they are more likely to become repeat customers, and conversely if they have a negative experience with a company they are less likely to purchase again.
As opposed to Gen Zers who engage with social media on a daily basis, millennials tend to have a more touch-and-go relationship with social media apps, using them a few times a week rather than for hours on end each day. Because of this, they are also less likely to be devoted to the lifestyle or brand of any specific influencer, so influencer marketing does not have the same effect as it does on Gen Zers.
Gen Z: We could spend an entire blog post writing about either millennials or Gen Zers, but especially Gen Zers because they are a generation unlike any other because they are the first generation to have been exposed to the internet throughout their entire lives. This has certainly impacted the way they make purchases and how they view brands and brand loyalty as a concept.
…Gen Zers are the most likely generation to make purchases on social media apps…
In fact, Gen Zers are the most likely generation to make purchases on social media apps, this is likely due to their comfort with and frequency of use of social media apps. It is no surprise that apps like Instagram, in targeting their Gen Z consumer base, have opened online shops where influencers and brands can sell directly to consumers—it falls in line with Gen Z spending habits.
Gen Zers are often less loyal to one specific brand and are more likely to make purchases at companies they feel sell the best version of a particular product, this arrives in stark contrast to millennials who often value loyalty to a brand.
Moreover, Gen Zers typically adopt an informed consumer mindset whereby they do targeted research into a brand’s business practices, looking into things such as the treatment of workers, the ethicality of material sources, price transparency, and sustainability.
So it is important for all brands to work to be cognizant of topical social trends if they wish to garner the support of Gen Z shoppers.
It is also not surprising that Gen Zers use social media very regularly, and as such cultivate opinions and learn from online influencers. So influencer marketing tends to be a very important aspect of reaching Gen Z because many of them look to social media to learn about the latest trends and new brands to watch.
What does this all mean for you?
If your goal is to market to millennials either through traditional means or via influencer marketing, you should prioritize long-term, genuine partnerships with influencers because, as previously mentioned, they are more likely to develop brand loyalty if they have repeated positive experiences with a brand. Because millennials tend to have more purchasing power, brands have a real opportunity to attract loyal customers who will purchase their products and services.
If Gen Z is your target, then you will want to ensure that your brand is ethical (whatever that means for you), purpose-driven, and down-to-earth. A huge aspect of the way Gen Zers make purchases is if they feel that the brand truly cares about them and are not just out to make money. Earlier we mentioned that Gen Zers tend to use TikTok a lot—there is a reason for this. TikTok as an app is successful in large part because of Gen Zers, who value authenticity, rawness, and transparency. If they feel that a brand is too lofty or out of touch with reality, they will not be inclined to engage with the brand.
A good influencer marketing campaign will target a mix of generations, so there are two things you can do to increase your likelihood of having your campaign resonate with different age demographics.
- Be authentic and true. Both Millennials and Gen Zers will appreciate your honest care for them and your bespoke approach to marketing. You should examine the way other successful brands go about marketing to these two age groups to see how authenticity plays out in their campaigns.
- Be consistent. If you want to attract long-lasting customers, being consistent in terms of quality, brand image, and values will be critical. Both millennials and Gen Zers can tell when a brand is just doing things for money, and you do NOT want that to be you.
Wrapping it all up
Overall, what we have explored in this blog post has shown us that millennials and Gen Z are two distinct generations that require somewhat different marketing strategies. When thinking about how Gen Z and millennials differ and compare to each other, it is always important that the core values of marketing, being true, selling quality products, being ethical, and being consistent are always paramount. We hope that this article helps you etch out a clear marketing strategy for these two age groups and that your influencer marketing campaigns are successful after taking more targeted steps to work with influencers and produce content for people of different ages.
As always, this topic and many of the others we have spoken about in previous blog posts can be complex and there are certainly things that we did not have a chance to touch on in this post. If you have any other questions that are related to influencer marketing, always feel free to contact our team at relay.club and we will be happy to answer them!
Until next time!
Social Media Influencer
Hasani Arnold received his bachelor’s degree from CUNY Hunter College and master’s from Tsinghua University Schwarzman College. He is an influencer on TikTok who has a following of 83K. His content is all China-related and ranges from things such as skits, social commentary, day-in-the-life vlogs, and language instruction. He has been featured in various blogs and third-party videos including Unilad, Unilad Adventure, and Klook. He has also appeared on Chinese television on variety shows.
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