Millennials vs. Gen Z: 3 Key Insights for Targeting the New Generation

So much digital ink has been spilled covering millennials vs. Generation X and their real and perceived differences. Now it’s time for a new discussion to take center stage: millennials vs. Gen Z.

Generation Z is becoming a buying and workforce power of its own. According to The WJ Schroer Company, Gen Z (comprised of U.S. citizens born between 1995 and 2012) is a population of 23 million people, many of whom are now entering college or the workforce. A Fast Company article suggests that by 2020, 40 percent of all shoppers will be Gen Z.

Knowing what makes Gen Z tick can help you create content and a brand identity that attracts and engages these young shoppers. In this article, you’ll learn three key insights, so your brand can stay relevant in the next decade and beyond.

1. Authenticity really matters

One of the first things that jumps out about Gen Z is its bias toward authentic and honest online communication.

As you think about millennials vs. Gen Z, remember that Gen Z is the first generation to come of age without firsthand knowledge of a pre-computer/pre-smartphone world. These young people are digital natives, used to managing both an offline and online life and persona. This has helped Gen Z develop a sixth sense about what is authentic and what isn’t.

Gen Z is going to connect less with products and their features and more with the real people and stories that you can tell about those products and features.

2. You have to get through a super-fast attention filter

You’ve probably heard about Gen Z’s reputation for having an increasingly short attention span and being overly consumed with their screens. But what if it’s less a reflection of attention span and more an indication of the sophistication of Gen Z’s attention filter? That’s the argument posited by Jeremy Finch of Fast Company.

It’s important to understand how short of a time span you will have to create a positive first impression. And remember, you need to be authentic, because Gen Z will sniff out fake or pandering content quicker than their older counterparts.

3. Don’t forget about email

It’s easy to assume that you need to focus on social media to engage Gen Z — and of course, you do. But don’t forsake email for a social-only strategy. In fact, your social media strategy should serve a larger and more overarching email strategy if developing a deep (and potentially lucrative) bond with a Gen Z audience is your goal.

The numbers still back up the power of email. A Campaign Monitor study found that 81 percent of Gen Z respondents check their email at least once a day. Almost 67 percent of respondents reported getting fewer than 20 emails a day. This means that you have an active audience that isn’t being overly inundated with messages, presumably because marketers and brands are focusing more on social media than email in how they engage Gen Z.

When done right, useful email marketing like curated email newsletters or regularly scheduled tips and advice can be a far more intimate way to engage Gen Z than social. And once you create that intimate bond, you’re much more likely to keep that audience member over time and see a positive response to your calls to action, especially if your email content becomes something a subscriber depends on.

Gen Z is the future

As you plan ahead, don’t forget about millennials, but try to increase your focus on Gen Z. Ultimately, it’s not as much about millennials vs. Gen Z as it is about creating channels and strategies that can appeal to both. Each segment has a massive amount of buying power.

Keep these strategies in mind as you approach Gen Z, and you’ll find success in targeting the first generation of digital natives to come of age and impact the economy.


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