As a marketer, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is failing to differentiate between Gen-Z and Millennial audiences. There may be blurred lines between the two in some contexts, but they are nonetheless entirely different demographics where business and marketing are concerned.
By building and understanding the subtle quirks and nuances of each of these groups, you’ll find yourself in a much better position to reach and influence them accordingly. All of which begins by ensuring you’re familiar with a few key fundamentals.
Who Are Millennials?
Millennials are officially classified as those who were born between 1980 and 1995. Which would mean that this year (2020), anyone between the ages of 25 and 40 would be considered a millennial.
What is Gen-Z?
By contrast, Generation Z refers to people that were born between 1996 and 2015. Which would mean that in 2020, anyone between the ages of five and 24 years old would be part of Gen-Z. Marketing to the younger half of this demographic means taking an entirely different approach altogether, but that’s a topic for a different post.
In this instance, we’ll be focusing on Gen-Z audiences of an active consumer age, who collectively have more spending power than you might think.
Millennials vs. Gen Z: Key Differences
Technically speaking, there is a degree of overlap between these two demographics. Take the average 23-year-old and the average 26-year-old and they’ll probably have a relatively similar tastes, preferences and priorities. At least, in terms of consumerism, marketing and so on.
Nevertheless, compare the demographics in their entirety and you immediately begin to see important differences between the two. With respect to how they view money, interact with brands and shop in general, these two consumer groups aren’t quite as closely matched as it appears on the surface.
Let’s take a look at some of the key differences between Millennials and Generation Z in a little more detail:
- Gen-Z places less value on the customer experience
Interestingly, the tendency for Millennials to willingly pay more for a better experience seems to have subsided with their younger counterparts. While approximately 75% of Millennials are happy to pay more if the customer experience is great, just 69% of Gen-Z said they’d do the same.
- Gen-Z aren’t as easy to impress with ‘innovative’ products and services
While the vast majority of Millennials believe that businesses are successfully bringing innovative products and services to the market in accordance with the needs of their audience (80%), Gen-Z isn’t quite as impressed (71%). This suggests that Gen-Z would like to see businesses up their game in innovation stakes.
- Gen-Z has an even lower level of trust in businesses
Millennial audiences aren’t known for trusting brands too readily – just over 70% saying they trust the companies they encounter. With Gen-Z, it’s even lower – just 63% said they trusted businesses in a recent survey.
- Gen-Z doesn’t trust you with its private information
Similarly, a recent survey found that approximately 55% of Millennial consumers are happy with the way businesses use their private data. A level of trust that has apparently plummeted over the years, with just 44% of Gen-Z consumers sharing their sentiments.
- Gen-Z consumers are more pragmatic and financially savvy
This is something attributed to the fact that while Gen-Z came into the world at a time of recession, Millennials were raised during a period of economic strength. The result of which being one demographic (Millennials) being more likely to blow money without a second thought, alongside a second demographic (Gen-Z) that’s more pragmatic and liable to focus on smarter, longer-term investments.
- Gen-Z is more likely to save money
Likewise, evidence also suggests that older teens and younger adults within the Gen-Z bracket are for more likely to put money into savings than their Millennial counterparts. Millennials tend to prioritise the customer experience over value for money, whereas Gen-Z will happily compromise in a variety of areas to minimise expense.
- Gen-Z is all about authenticity
Authenticity has been important when marketing to younger audiences for years, though has never been more essential than right now. Gen-Z is increasingly showing preference to businesses that keep things simple, authentic, unpolished and unedited. Anything else being considered tantamount to deliberate deception by Gen-Z audiences.
- Gen-Z likes to hit the Hight Street
Flying in the face of almost all predictions, Gen-Z isn’t quite as addicted to online shopping as the average Millennial. They still make plenty of purchases online, but significantly more Gen-Z consumers prefer to hit the High Street than spend their money on the web. Which is interesting, given how in-person shopping is more about the experience, while shopping online is more about saving money.
Making it Work
Converting all of the above into a viable, effective and efficient marketing strategy isn’t easy. Particularly if you intend to snare both audiences, given the obvious overlap between the two.
Nevertheless, there are five things you need to focus on to get Gen-Z on board with your products, your services and your brand. The bonus being that in each of the following instances, you’ll also be appealing to younger Millennials with the same tactics:
1. Sell benefits, not products
The days of the hard-sell having any real impact are long gone. Furthermore, the vast majority of Gen-Z consumers are more or less immune to conventional marketing messages and ad campaigns. They filter them out automatically and have no interest in how fantastic you think your products and services are.
Instead, they want to know the extent to which your products and services will benefit them. A study by Mention having found that 75% of Gen-Z consumers are more about the intangible side of purchasing a product – i.e. how it stands to enhance and improve their lives.
2. Focus heavily on video content
This is a trend that hit high-gear with Millennial audiences and has continued accelerating ever since. Gen-Z has been raised on instant-access video content – the vast majority of teenagers admitting they couldn’t imagine life without YouTube.
In fact, approximately 85% of teenagers said they use YouTube on a regular basis. The potential value of quality video content on your own website and social pages is limitless, but so too is the interest that can be generated with an effective YouTube campaign.
Standing out from the crowd on such a crowded and competitive platform isn’t easy, but the spoils that await those who gets the right can be extraordinary.
3. Step away from big-time influencers
Slowly but surely, consumers are beginning to realise that when top-name celebrities endorse a product or service, they’re doing so simply because they were paid to. They’ve technically no interest in the product or its quality – they’re reading from a script having been handed a sack full of cash for 15 minutes of work.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez – three of the top celebrity influencers of 2019, often commanding costs of more than £500,000 for a few positive words.
These days, micro-influencers with much smaller audiences are driving much higher engagement. Often 60% more than their big-name counterparts, having been accepted by their intended audiences as authentic and sincere. Research suggests that when marketing to Gen-Z, stepping away from big-time influencers in favour of micro-influencers can boost overall campaign cost efficiency by almost 700%.
4. Talk to your customers
Actively encouraging customers to leave feedback and share their thoughts is no longer enough. If you’re planning on successfully reaching Gen-Z, you need to ensure that you are actively engaged with them. A recent study has suggested that more than 75% of this demographic expects businesses to respond to all comments and feedback quickly, honestly and with authenticity.
Close to half of all Gen-Z consumers consult a minimum of five reviews before making a purchase decision. They’re also significantly more likely to leave positive feedback than negative comments, further emphasizing the importance of encouraging them to do so.
Talking to and engaging with your customers has never been more important, making now the time to revisit and reconsider your social strategy. If it’s taking you more than a couple of hours to post replies to your customers’ comments and feedback online, you’re not treating it with the urgency it deserves.
5. Make them feel safe
Last up, we’ve already touched upon the fact that Gen-Z really doesn’t trust you with its private information. A study carried out by NGen has found that just under 90% of all Gen-Z consumers place the highest priority on protecting the privacy and safeguarding their personal information.
Teenagers in particular are showing widespread distrust where data protection is concerned – less than one in three being comfortable sharing their private data online. Hence, if you’re serious about attracting and engaging Gen-Z audiences, you need to do everything you can to make them feel safe.
This means focusing on both transparency and the security of your website, providing as many reminders as necessary that doing business with your brand is safe.