This is the rightful question on many marketers’ minds these days. In the numerous conversations I’ve had with marketing leaders, I’ve heard three types of answers: 1) Some assume that “Millennial” is still a universal term referring to all young consumers (it’s not). 2) Others know there’s a difference between the generations but aren’t sure about the details. 3) Still others are confident in the generational distinctions but aren’t sure how to implement those insights.
No matter where marketers are on the spectrum of understanding the differences between the two youngest generations, there is room to learn. With the oldest members of Gen Z turning 23 years old in 2019, the urgency to get it right is sky high.
In response to the urgency, we recently conducted research aimed at identifying the most relevant differences between Gen Z and Millennial consumers’ digital behaviour and how marketers can use those insights to increase engagement. Specifically, we zeroed in on a consumer category central to how both generations interact with the people and brands around them: mobile technology and social media.
We found that key online identity distinctions exist between Gen Z and Millennials, with the former focused on creating conversations through social media and the latter gravitating more toward solo online consumption.
As a result, marketers need to shift their digital strategies to more effectively differentiate between the two youngest generations. Marketing leaders can better engage Gen Z and Millennial consumers online today and propel growth in years to come by initiating the following reforms:
- Identify and then leverage the fundamental generational value differences between Older and Younger Millennial and Gen Z consumers, with the understanding that digital native identity exists along a spectrum. The time is long overdue to make the shift, as life stage progression is only widening the gap in their generational perspectives on media and technology.
- Focus the social dimensions of your campaigns and content using generational consumer electronics and media consumption preferences as a guiding principle. Optimize Older Millennial efforts for streamlined individual experiences, and keep shared experience and conversation front and centre for Gen Z.
- Sharply align your messaging strategy with generational content creation preferences to gain true interaction traction. Provide Older Millennials with a few focused platforms to show off their curating impulses and penchant for polish, and offer Gen Z outlets for raw and “real” impromptu conversation wherever they digitally gather.