Understanding the differences between Millennials and Gen Z and how to appeal to both

Millennials and Gen Z are often lumped under the same category of “young consumers,” yet if you peel back the layers, you’ll find their distinct preferences and behaviors reflect unique profiles.

While Millennials spend more money thanks to the financial liberality that comes with age, it’s pivotal to note the burgeoning influence of Gen Z.1 By 2030, this group will compose 30% of the workforce, likely heralding a significant shift in spending power.2

Understanding the difference between Millennials and Gen Z is crucial for brands aiming to craft meaningful marketing rather than rehashing the outdated tropes of avocado toast lovers and selfie aficionados. Here are some must-knows about the two generations.

Key differences between Millennials and Gen Z

Millennials are individuals born between 1981 and 1996, whereas Gen Z encompasses those born from 1997 through the early 2010s.

Beyond their age gaps, keep these key differences between Gen Z and Millennials in mind as you create your marketing strategy:

  • Prioritization of savings. Gen Z saves an average of $857 per month compared to $294 for Millennials, who are more inclined to live in the moment.3 This may impact how each generation views investments and large purchases.
  • Customer service priorities. Looking to improve the customer experience? When contacting a business for customer support, 80% of Millennials expect an immediate response. Gen Z, on the other hand, tends to be better at accepting delayed gratification — only 64% demand an instant response.4
  • Online content consumption. On average, Millennials spend 7.5 hours online — this number skyrockets to nearly 10 hours for Gen Z.5 When it comes to how they consume their content, Gen Z spends double the time watching videos (more than 3 hours) compared to Millennials (1.5 hours).5
  • Ad engagement. Millennials engage with ad content for up to 12 seconds, while Gen Z's focus lasts just 8 seconds.1 Additionally, Gen Z prefers brief, snappy video formats found on TikTok or Instagram Stories, whereas Millennials appreciate more in-depth, long-form content, including elaborate videos or podcasts.5
  • Customer experience vs. price sensitivity. Millennials are likelier to pay extra for a great customer experience, whereas Gen Z is more inclined to switch to lower-priced alternatives if the value proposition is strong enough.3

Similarities between their shopping behavior

Despite their differences, Millennials and Gen Z share several commonalities, such as:

  • Preferences for alternative payment methods. Millennials and Gen Z consumers are using buy now, pay later options with increasingly frequency, and spending more on average through these options than when using credit cards.6
  • Spending habits. Both Millennials and Gen Z are more willing to make non-essential purchases than their older counterparts.7
  • Sustainability priorities. One report found that 40% of Millennials and Gen Z say environmental impact is an extremely or very important consideration factor when making their purchasing decisions — nearly double the rate of Boomers.8
  • A desire for unified and personalized retail. Compared to Boomers, Millennials and Gen Z are twice as likely as Boomers to rely on more than one channel in their purchase journey.9 Similarly, 85% of Gen Z and Millennials are more likely to shop at stores offering personalized in-store recommendations as compared to 59% of Gen X and Boomers.9

How to appeal to both generations

How can you create marketing that resonates with both generations? Use these tips.

Create seamless experiences across channels

Both Generation Z and Millennials are adept users of social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok and rely heavily on their smartphones for information, shopping, and entertainment.

That means ensuring a seamless mobile-first experience across all digital touchpoints is non-negotiable — focus on integrating your marketing efforts across various channels to provide a cohesive and user-friendly experience.

Highlight brand values

Millennials and Gen Z are not just buying products, they’re investing in the mission and values that guide brands. Both generations appreciate brands that are authentic, ethical, and demonstrate social responsibility.

Whether you’re targeting Millennials or Gen Z, highlighting your brand's commitment to these values can significantly influence their purchasing decisions. Transparency and sincerity in your brand's mission and practices can forge stronger connections with these shoppers.

Produce short-form content

When marketing to different generations, remember that the fast-paced digital landscape has shaped a preference for short-form content among younger shoppers.

As a result, content that is concise and engaging is more likely to capture their attention. This includes videos, infographics, and posts that offer value, are easily shareable, and have a clear goal such as education, entertainment, or inspiration.

Diving deeper into Gen Z

Unlocking the secret to capturing the attention of Millennials and Gen Z goes beyond just knowing them — it's about crafting marketing that stands out in a crowded landscape. Through customer segmentation, you can dial up the personalization, ensuring your messaging, products, and services align with each crowd's unique tastes and desires.

Ready to fine-tune your strategy for these younger audiences? Learn more about how to reach Gen Z.

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