It is very easy to think this may be true as future generations of consumers, such as Gen Z, desire many of the same customer interactions and experiences from brands as millennials. But lets dig a little deeper into this this question.
Even though both of these groups may look young, there are many differences in their shopping habits, interactions with brands, valuation of products and services, and how they view their money. As a brand, if young people comprise a large component of your target customer, then it is essential for you to understand similarities and differences of each so you can create the right message on the right medium for them.
Millennials grew up in economic prosperity and thus are not as price sensitive and are more willing to spend their money. They are considered to be an optimistic and idealistic generation and are perceived as having been somewhat pampered or spoiled by their parents.
Gen Z grew up during the great recession and are thus more pragmatic. They were shaped by economic struggles many of their parents and families faced during this time and look more towards saving or spending money on products and services with long term value. They have a clear realization that their money could run out sometime in the future.
Similarities of both groups:
- Prefer brands that champion transparency and share their core values although Gen Z is even more loyal to brands that feel authenic.
- Accustomed to communicating with companies online and demand an experience that is easy to navigate.
- Desire a seamless brand interaction between multiple devices so omnichannel is critical for companies.
- Members of each are always moving at a fast pace and they demand companies they interact with to do the same.
- Texting is the preferred communication channel vs . phone calls as its instant and mobile.
- Demand personalization from brands and are willing to share personal data with them in order to receive it. However, Gen Z is a more concerned with security and want to trust a brand is going to properly handle their personal data and they want and value transparency from the company on how its going to be used.
However, differences between the 2 groups are important to consider within your marketing strategy. Understanding each of these differences and tailoring your brand messaging to their preferred channels is really challenging but critical if young consumers make up a large portion of your target customers. For instance:
- Millennials are more of a collaborative group and buying decisions are heavily influenced by ratings and reviews while Gen Z is more independent and influenced heavily by doing indepth research on the brand themselves. Messaging for these brands should highlight their long term value and feeling of making a smart purchase.
- Millennials respond to messaging that highlights innovation and new ways to easily improve or simplify their daily life while Gen Z values messaging that is authentic and showcases the brand’s greater good to society while also maximizing the value for the money they are spending. Marketing efforts should include content and messaging that is actually obtainable and not flashy or fake. Since the value of every dollar is important to them offering bonuses such as free shipping is a good strategy for success.
- Millennials personality traits tilt more towards idealistic, inclusive and that everyone wins, at witnessed by the many participation trophy’s they received during youth sporting and other activities. Everyone needs to feel like winners around them while Gen Z is more realistic, private and competitive. Their perceived value relative to the amount of money being spent on a product is more important to them because they realize not everyone is going to be a financial winner in life.
- Millennials gravitate to mobile content, blog and podcasts, while Gen Z has less patience and likes to consume short videos, on-demand content, memes, GIF and other powerful type imagining. Their attention span is about one third less than millennials , so brands need to convey their message faster and differently to effectively reach them.
- Millennials first impulse is to pull out their smart phones anytime they want something new and immediately order it online while Gen Z prefers at times to shop in the store to see and feel the products to insure value for them versus the amount of money they are about to spend. Since they value the entire shopping and buying experience retailers need to ensure their in store experiences emotionally connects with them by using tactics which provide unique experiences that can only happen in stores.
- Millennials grew up idolizing their favorite brands and proudly displayed them on their shirts, jeans, shoes and are still willing to pay premium dollars to own them while Gen Z do not want to be defined by a brand and strive to be brand independent and eventually develop their own style of brand. Brand messaging should include the feeling of belonging to a community yet convey the ability to be whoever and stand for whatever you want.
- Millennials consume all things social and are heaviest users of instagram while Gen Z are more private and do not want to be tracked online so they consume snapchat and other anonymous channels.
In summary, while many similarities exist among the different generations of consumers, especially between millennials and Gen Z which comprise close to a billion dollars worth of buying power, do not fall into the trap of ignoring these important differences in your marketing strategy and rollout. Brands that can distinguish themselves and effectively connect with consumers on all of these similar and different traits will be the clear winners.
Guest blog post by Bill Simon, WJS Digital Consulting, LLC
Successful visionary marketing and digital leader with extensive experience in creating and implementing corporate strategy to evolve from an inside-out, product focused customer experience culture to a outside-in customer centric experience culture. Recognized for developing strong relationships with an ability to lead and bring people together on a vision and effectively interact with executives on all levels of an organization. Passion for helping companies succeed with effectively reaching customers on their current shopping journey where they are completely in charge of their buying process involving multiple devices, multiple locations and multiple activities all at the time of day they choose.