Generation Z vs. Millennials: What’s the Difference?

Gen-Z-vs.-Millennials

We’re all familiar with the stereotypes that characterize the millennial generation- avocado toast, “killing” chain restaurants, and being social media obsessed. But what actually defines a millennial? Millennials are the generation born between 1980-1994. These are people who remember a time before cell phones and the internet were integral to everyday life, but have grown up with these technologies.

Following millennials, you have Generation Z, also referred to as Gen Z. Gen Zers were born between 1995-2015, meaning they’re anywhere between 5 and 25 years old. This is the first generation to never experience a world without smartphones and the internet. Members of both generations may be young, but there are huge differences in the ways they view money, interact with brands, and respond to marketing.

Money

Despite spending their childhood and early teens in a generally healthy economy, millennials are typically portrayed as financially underprivileged. This generation could be defined by the student debt crisis, of which they are the primary victims. Even though their childhoods in the late 80s and 90s were prosperous, when many millennials began working in the late 2000s they entered a depressed job market, saddled with tens of thousands in student debt. However, they’re still regarded as a very optimistic generation economically. This could be owed to their upbringing in a time of economic fortune.

On the other hand, Gen Zers have grown up in the economy of the Great Recession, making many of them incredibly conscious of debt and their economic state. As a result, Gen Zers are less inclined toward student loans, allowing them to enter the job force with little to no debt and in a much more flexible financial state than their older counterparts.

Brands

Millennials are known for being very brand loyal. Despite the wide berth of choice available to them, millennials are more likely to make repeat purchases from their favorite brands than other generations. This has been attributed to several factors, including social proof. Social proof is the psychological concept that humans naturally look towards those around them to make choices. With the advent of social media, it’s easier than ever to see what brands your friends are interacting with, making it easier to choose based on what the people around you are purchasing. Millennials are also drawn into brand loyalty because of the things they value in brands. For instance, millennials value the customer experience, so if they are provided with a good experience, they are more likely to remain loyal to a brand.

Generation Zers, however, are more concerned with showing off their individuality than remaining loyal to their favorite brands. They are generally less brand-conscious than their older counterparts and tend to spend less. This generation prefers trends that can be shown off on social media, such as rainbow makeup or political clothing items. Being able to brag about affording a certain brand just isn’t as appealing to Gen Zers as showcasing their personality with their purchases.

Marketing

Knowing what makes each generation tick is integral to effectively marketing to them. Millennials respond to brands that support causes they agree with and provide memorable customer experiences. They can be reached by emphasizing the causes that you support or by showcasing what you do to make their experience special. Generation Z also responds well to brands that support their causes, but they put much less emphasis on the customer experience. Gen Zers prefer marketing that comes across as personal, authentic, and emphasizes their individuality as people. They are best reached with marketing that’s a little outside the box and appeals to their sense of self.

Millennials are a little more old-fashioned when it comes to brand loyalty and spending practices, where Generation Z is on the modern side as far as using brands to show off their individuality. While Millennials and Generation Z are similar in age, it’s important to make note of their differences to really understand how to reach them.

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Caitlin is a Marketing Coordinator at SAGE. When she's not writing, she enjoys baking and spending time with her senior beagle, Abby.

2 Comments

  1. Great job on this blog Caitlin!

  2. Great insights into generational preferences, Caitlin, thank you! And with three to five generations in the work place, it's even more important to understand what makes everyone tick.

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