Millennial and Gen Z consumers are frequently lumped together by marketers. While they do share some similarities, they have plenty of diverging needs and views. Marketing professionals have to take the time to get to know each of these generations. Otherwise, they risk creating customer content, journeys, and experiences that are off-base at best — and off-tone at worst.
To be fair, it’s easy to forget that Millennials and Gen Zers don’t respond to the same types of messaging or touchpoints. They’re both digitally proficient, after all, not to mention concerned about environmental issues. One Pew Research poll from 2021 showed Gen Z and Millennial respondents in near agreement (56% and 57%, respectively) about eliminating gas-driven cars immediately. The youngest generations were nearly as in sync about getting rid of offshore drilling.
Yet there are countless nuances between Gen Z and Millennial buyers to keep in mind. Yes, they’re both climate change activists. However, Gen Z is more willing to hold brands’ feet to the fire about following sustainable practices. According to a 2023 YPulse survey, one-third of Gen Zers expected companies to fold eco-friendly solutions and approaches into their workflows. By contrast, about one-quarter of Millennials agreed. Again, these are small but pertinent discussion points for marketers to consider.
Since we’re into the second half of 2023, now is an appropriate time to start having conversations around Millennial vs. Gen Z topics. That way, you can more appropriately construct a marketing plan to take you through the rest of the year and into the next. To give you a head start on your research, keep the following tips in mind.
1. Gen Z is on the lookout for fakery.
Gen Z consumers like to feel like brands are being real. They’ve grown up online and can sniff out digital dishonesty. Consequently, you’ll do best when marketing to them by leading with nothing short of authenticity.
Jeeyan Rostam-Abadi, EVP of Marketing at Hawke Media, recommends being upfront when engaging with Gen Z audiences. He explains how to do this when developing your brand story, which he notes shouldn’t focus on trying to be “cool” but honest. “Keep the story concise,” Abadi advises. “Even if you could write a book about it, make sure it fits into an elevator pitch. Focus on digital storytelling, as Gen Z is digitally native and grew up using platforms like Facetime and social media to connect with friends and their community.”
In other words, think pithy, passionate, and personable in all your storytelling to Gen Z. They like to know what your reality is so they can see if it aligns with their beliefs. The only way that can happen is if you’re forthright.
2. Millennials have a notable interest in learning.
You might not have realized it, but Millennials are the most educated generation yet. Bright Horizons research reveals that as early as 10 years ago, 34% of Millennials had earned at least a bachelor’s degree. They’re not stopping their penchant for learning when they receive their degrees, either.
Millennials want to know more about everything. They were one of the first generations to understand how easy it could be to go down the Internet “rabbit hole.” They like to delve into subjects and find any tidbits they can. In other words, they make great target DIYers for home improvement retailers.
How can you use this information to your advantage? Two thoughts: First, make sure you’re serving up educational content. Millennials are open to giving up their personal information for valuable whitepapers, case studies, and the like. They really trust businesses to play fair, per Gallup writer John Fleming, who notes that “44% of millennials in the United States believe that their personal information is kept private ‘all’ or ‘most of the time’ by the businesses or companies.” Second, look for ways to build your industry’s knowledge in your Millennial buyers through influencer relationships, videos, podcasts, webinars, and thought leadership articles.
3. Both generations wrestle with financial insecurities.
The world is still undergoing economic turmoil stirred up by the pandemic. Amid concerns about recessions and inflation, both Gen Z and Millennial shoppers are struggling with financial worries. Deloitte figures show about half of workers under age 45 are barely making ends meet.
Given this reality, you may want to mix up your copy to showcase the economical nature of your products or services. Or, if you sell pricier items, you might want to establish why they’re a good bargain. Perhaps they’re long-lasting or help save dollars in other areas. The point is that you’ll need to lead money-tight Millennials and Gen Zers toward the “buy” button.
Having trouble getting younger generation consumers to invest in what you sell? Consider using real customers from their age groups to act as spokespeople. Hearing a testimonial from them rather than an ad from you will be more compelling and sincere.
It can take time as a marketer to generate one-of-a-kind experiences for every generational group you serve. However, your energies and novel approaches will pay off when you see an uptick in revenue.