Marketing to Millennials vs. Gen Z: What Works? What Doesn’t?
If you want to increase your marketing ROI, it’s important that you understand the nuances and personality quirks of millennials and Gen Z.
Yes, both generations are relatively young, but they don’t have the same choices and they respond differently to marketing campaigns.
Understanding each audience will enable you to reach them on the right channels with the right messages at the right time.
In this article, we will talk about the similarities and differences between millennials and Gen Z. We will also discuss how to effectively market to each generation.
Let’s begin with the basics first.
According to Pew Research Center, those born between 1981 and 1996 are considered as millennials. They would be between 27 and 42 years old in 2023.
Gen Z, on the other hand, are the ones born between 1997 and 2012. The oldest members of this generation are now approaching 27 years.
When you consider the age gap, millennials in the 35-40 age range might already be settled and have a higher spending capacity than Gen Z in the 18-22 age range.
Key Differences Between Millennials and Gen Z
When marketing to millennials and Gen Z, you need to understand the differences between both generations. Four key differences worth noting are:
1- Gen Z Makes More Mobile Purchases than Millennials
Millennials and Gen Z are heavily connected to mobile and the internet. However, the way they use and spend time differs.
For instance, US millennials spend over 211 minutes (approx. 3.5 hours) accessing apps or the internet via smartphone per day. On the other hand, Gen Z spends more than 8 hours a day online.
Gen Z’s mobile-first mindset also impacts the way they shop online. They are, in fact, 2x more likely to shop on mobile devices than millennials.
2- They Both Use Different Social Networks
Both millennials and Gen Z spend a lot of time on social media. According to YPulse, Gen Z spends almost 4.5 hours a day on social media while millennials spend an average of around 3.8 hours.
While millennials spend more time on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, Gen Z has zoned in on video-based platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok.
Instagram and YouTube are the two social networks that both generations are predominantly using.
3- Video Length Matters
While video marketing has become popular in recent years, it is crucial to focus on the length of the video to get the best results.
Gen Z enjoy short-form videos like those on TikTok and Instagram Reels, whereas millennials value long-form content like detailed videos and guides.
This means that to target Gen Z, you should create videos that highlight your value proposition as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
And when creating a marketing campaign for millennials, you can make slightly longer video content.
4- Gen Z Prioritizes Saving Money While Millennials Focus On Experience
Gen Z’ers are more interested in saving money than millennials were at their age.
As a result, Gen Z’ers are attracted to products that maximize the value of every dollar, while millennials focus on the entire experience of making the purchase.
Therefore, strategies like free shipping, exclusive deals, or freebies work like magic when marketing to Gen Z (and millennials to some extent).
However, for millennials, focus on enhancing the overall customer journey (both before and after-sales).
Key Similarities Between Millennials and Gen Z (and How to Market to Them)
There are some similarities between both generations that can make marketing easier. Here are three of them:
1- Both Use Emails
According to a survey by Campaign Monitor, 90% of millennials check their email at least once per day compared to 58% of Gen Z’ers.
Even though both generations check emails regularly, you need to stand out from the crowd to get their attention, especially when they receive lots of emails every day (between 1-20).
Follow these tips to get the most out of email marketing:
- Design emails that capture your audience’s attention span (12-seconds for millennials and 8-seconds for Gen Z). To do that, use headings and subheadings that highlight important information.
- Leverage humor to entice users into opening your email.
- Build your reputation as a brand that sends high-value content always.
- Sell your story, not your product.
- Add CTA to highlight what you want users to do after reading your email.
2- Social Media Marketing Can Be a Game Changer
As mentioned above, both millennials and Gen Z spend a lot of time on social media. Therefore, with the right strategies, you can attract and convert both generations. In fact, 33% of Gen Z were persuaded into buying something after seeing it on social media.
Begin with identifying the social networks that most of your target audience uses and then create content accordingly. You can even reformat content into small pieces and market them.
For instance, when you create a detailed YouTube video, cut it into small pieces and upload the key sections on TikTok and Instagram Reels to catch Gen Z’s attention.
3- Both Prioritize Diversity, Equality, and Inclusivity
In the last few years, DEI (diversity, equality, and inclusivity) in the workforce has become a trending topic.
Both millennials and Gen Z are using their social handles to raise awareness of these issues. This directly impacts the companies they support and buy from.
By prioritizing DEI, you will not only attract the young generation, but also make the world a better place. And when you do that, make sure you celebrate diversity and promote self-expression.
For instance, Aerie, an intimate apparel and lifestyle retailer, embraced the idea of diversity. As a result, they began to include people from different backgrounds, body shapes, races, and gender into their marketing campaigns (even mannequins).
4- Authenticity and Transparency Are More Important than Ever
Whether you’re writing a newsletter, a social media post, or creating an ad, be as authentic as possible. Those who do, attract both generations.
90% of millennials say authenticity is a critical factor in deciding which brands they support. Unfortunately, more than 50% of consumers think that fewer than half of brands create authentic content.
Ensure that your marketing materials are not overly polished and sound as authentic as possible.
Also, be transparent with what customers can expect from your services.
- Both the generations use mobile and internet. But, Gen Z’ers are more likely to shop via their mobile than millennials.
- Gen Z prefers short videos, while millennials love in-depth videos.
- Millennials want a great shopping experience, whereas Gen Z prioritizes products that offer the best value for their money.
- Both generations use emails as one of the primary communication channels.
- Both generations are attracted to brands that are more authentic and transparent.