What is the difference between Millennials and Generation Z and why should marketers care? Louise Hefer answers the questions.
“Hey Pete, how’s it going? I recently read an article that said Generation X is the new Generation Y, who turned into Millennials overnight. But apparently they’ve now been replaced by Generation Z who had babies that boomed a few years ago. Should we change our target market?”
I can guarantee that most of us, somewhere, somehow, ended up in a conversation like this. Our industry is well known for the amount of jargon that comes up on a daily basis. At one stage we were all comfortable with knowing the basics, but somehow navigating our way around it, and trying to keep our sanity, made us lose touch with what’s really important.
These past few months, I’ve noticed a lot of articles talking about Millennials and Generation Z. One of our business unit managers, Katharine Liese, also mentioned these two groups in her newsletter at the beginning of the year when she explored the trends for 2015.
What’s important though is understanding the differences. Let’s look at a more detailed explanation on how they differ and why brands should actually care. We’ll even include an infographic that summarises the key concepts which you can print, laminate and stick behind a bathroom door.
But first, to set the foundation, here is a quick look at the generation jargon we’ve encountered so far (naturally, with some overlap):
•Baby Boomers: born between 1946 and 1964
•Generation X: mid 1960s to early 1980s
•Generation Y (Millennials): early 1980s to 2000s
•Generation Z (Homelanders): late 1990s to current
Let’s start by looking at Millennials (Generation Y). The most interesting aspect about this generation is that they grew up in a strong economy, resulting in spending money more boldly. They grew up with computers and the boom of social media, subscribing to any and every social platform possible. They share pictures of food on social media close to three times a week thanks to the ‘Instagram effect’. This resulted in a tech savvy group of people that toggle between, on average, two screens simultaneously. It’s a generation that is multi-cultural, team orientated and generally optimistic.
They do, however, expect success without necessarily putting in the effort to ensure it.
Generation Z, on the other hand, grew up in a time of recession, terrorism and complexity. They are much more ‘worldly’ – also probably due to the ease of accessing information. This is a generation that doesn’t know how life exists without the internet and touch screens (and they wouldn’t know what MS DOS means… gasp!). They are extremely tech savvy and easily navigate between five screens (TV, mobile, laptop, desktop, music player) at any given time.
They are the most diverse and multi-cultural of any generation and have been raised in blended households across race and gender. They have a collective conscience to change the world and focus more on helping others than themselves. They also depict an inherent entrepreneurial spirit where they are conscious about making their own success, resulting in a generation that is much more realistic.
“Well this is all good and well”, I can hear you say, “but how do we translate this into effective, tailor made communication?” Here are some tips for brands to keep in mind when engaging with these two very different groups of people.
As the majority of Millennial women are responsible for household purchases, they are becoming more and more demanding in their relationships with brands. Brands that make these women the hero, instead of the actual brand itself, will resonate more with them. They don’t just expect a solution to a problem, they expect an actual relationship with the brand.
This generation is all about instant gratification or the one-click mentality which ultimately translates into convenience. The front runner in addressing this is Amazon with their distinct positioning of making life as easy as possible for their consumers – a strategy that other retailers are following.
Creating content that is tailor made to their individual interests is extremely important, including being culturally relevant. This means being in touch with your consumers at a grassroots level, to be treated in an authentic way and be a positive reflection on the brands’ standpoint.
Millennials expect a dialogue, the days of brands pushing their message onto them are long gone. Brands are required to embrace this two way conversation element by turning their social media platforms into enablers.
Finally, this generation expects professionalism from brands, they aren’t interested in brands that try to trick, patronise or even stereotype them. In the end it’s all about transparency which they will respect you for and in turn will increase their affinity towards the brand.
If Millennials was the perfectly connected generation, Generation Z is the over connected generation. Their attention span is significantly lower than the Millennials; it’s estimated at around eight seconds! This means that communication needs to be short and concise with frequent bursts. They are referred to as the ultimate consumers of ‘snack media’.
This generation is more connected than any generation before them which makes them hyper-aware of global issues and general concerns. Because of this, the worst thing a brand can do is talk down to this generation – talk to them as adults and treat them accordingly.
Entrepreneurship is part of their DNA and they are big advocates of making their own success with the majority wanting to turn their hobby into a business. Brands can tap into that entrepreneurial spirit by empowering them to turn their dreams into a reality.
With a sharing economy becoming more prevalent in this generation, it is important for brands to collaborate with them and in turn help them team up with others. Make them feel valued and let your brand be the enabler to a collaborative society.
When going through the above, it’s easier to see how different the mind sets are between the generations and it becomes clear that brands cannot use a one size fits all approach. There needs to be a clear distinction when engaging with the different generations as well as how the message gets treated. However, across both of these groups there is one thing that remains constant – brands need to add value and deliver content that’s relevant to everyday life.
Now add value to other people and share the infographic with at least one other person! #SharingIsCaring
Louise Hefer is a media strategist at The MediaShop
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