Generation-driven Marketing: Millennials vs Generation Z
It’s official! The global population is now overwhelmingly controlled by millennials and Gen Z, with a whopping 51% of the populace. These are the consumers of the present, as well as those of the foreseeable future.
They carry unprecedented buying power, more than any generation before them, so being able to reach, speak, and relate to these audience segments is pivotal for any brand hoping to embrace a future world where they survive and thrive.
In order to adapt to the changing world, brands need to adopt generation-driven marketing. In order to know how to engage in proper millennial and Gen-Z marketing, it is first imperative to actually understand those audiences, as well as the differences between them. Let’s take a look at the defining marketing characteristics of both and what distinguishes them from each other.
One of the predominantly defining characteristics of millennials is that they value a tangible product less than the experience they derive from purchasing it. They are known to appreciate fresh takes on classic models.
They range in age from 24 to 40 years old and are active participants on social media. This is the predominant way in which they find brands to connect with, seeking out a connection that will reward them with more than just a relationship where the brand stands to benefit, but rather an experience that they perceive as positive.
As a generation raised in a world of billboards, radio, and TV ads full of corny slogans and jingles that got stuck in one’s mind, as well as those who grew up alongside an evolving social media, millennials are over the forced and cheesy attempts by brands to push their messaging on them. Shaped by these experiences, if there is one thing millennials will not stand for, it's inauthentic brand messaging.
It's those brands that keep things honest, grounded, and direct that get millennials’ attention and respect, especially when it comes to social media dominion. They have simply tuned out the “noise” by being tired of having their intelligence insulted. Therefore, millennial marketing is all about keeping things as real as possible.
Brands can market their own products well enough, but nothing quite compares to displaying others using the brand’s offering. In fact, this type of advertising is not just extremely potent, it's also generally free. Consider a millennial seeking authenticity, viewing a video of a product they may be interested in potentially being used by another user. This makes the product a lot more real, not just an abstract image or animation that the brand would like to use to illustrate it during a marketing campaign.
So mighty is the power behind UGC that nearly 80% of consumers claim that consumption of user-generated content (UGC) is the prime determinant in whether they choose to purchase the brand’s product.
For brands, when their products are showcased and celebrated by consumers, it's an instant win in terms of publicity and validation. For those users who created the content, they too feel celebrated by being showcased by the brand for their efforts. Essentially, it's a win for everyone involved.
The Communal Factor
Speaking directly to a brand’s audience helps to communicate what the brand’s values are to the consumers, engaging them through authentic, real content, especially through social media. Because social media, unlike many other advertising forums, permits two-way communication, brands can respond and highlight their consumers' views and opinions. This establishes a communal feeling that consumers have with the brand, and this, in turn, drives respect and loyalty to the brand.
Millennials, perhaps more so than any other generation, are focused on getting the most value out of their purchases. But more than that, they want to purchase from brands that share their values. The value of community is chief among such values, making it pertinent for brands to reinforce the sense of community through social media engagement, blogging, and other forms of consumer interaction.
If brands thought millennials were challenging to cater to, they will have a whole other set of factors to deal with when it comes to Gen Z. As “digital natives” who were born in a time when the internet was taking off and growing an exponentially breakneck pace (from 1997 to 2015), Gen Z-ers are used to most modern technologies being part of their regular lives.
In order to understand effective Gen Z marketing, brands must understand that by and large, Gen Z is more socially progressive than any generations that came before but also armed with a short attention span. Gen Z appreciates a sharp wit and things that capture their attention quickly. Anything that is too drawn out is simply not pleasant to their short attention spans, and a brand that does not engage them right off the bat is likely to get quickly disregarded.
The Personal Touch
If there is one thing Gen-Z appreciates more than authenticity, it's personalization. They want to feel like the brand gets them specifically, and are far more likely to be positively responsive to brands that do so. If we consider that this is a generation that has taken more selfies than photos of anything else, it is easy to recognize that Gen Z-ers view themselves as protagonists in their own life stories. Therefore, brands that make them the center of attention are likely to have that attention reciprocated. These personalizations are not even limited to just social media, but rather span all advertising channels.
Video Is Everything
Brands will have a tough time reaching a particular audience unless they know where that audience is. Gen Z spends a lot of time on video-based platforms like Tik Tok and YouTube, so it's prudent for brands catering to this market to leverage those marketing channels to reach them.
Brand videos with quality production and a quick message are typically found to be engaging and interesting to Gen Z consumers. With most modern devices able to create incredible video qualities, there is simply no excuse or reason for brands not to reach out to the Gen Z audience through quick, sharp, and creative means.
Content Creation Is the Key
Brands used to rely on influencers to promote their products, but Gen Z has begun to see through the strategy of peddling products through well-known figures, and that caused influencers to become a turn-off rather than an engaging form of content consumption. As the influencer era slowly fades out, the era of the content creator has been given rise.
Content creators are the new wave of influencer marketing, and its future. They take pictures or produce videos of the brand’s products, then share those with their own followers. Given the power to wield their own creative approaches, these creators are far more cost-effective for brands than enlisting the service of an influencer.
Gen Z marketing is all about catering to an audience of those who want to view content on a person's device while doing so alongside a community of others who are of like minds and feeling like they are a part of something bigger. Gen Z is very high on themselves but in a positive way. 3/4s of them believe that their generation will change the world for the better, and there is a good chance they are right. This is evident in the fact that they are not simply talking the talk, but letting their actions speak. This is a generation of active go-getters, rather than passive drones waiting for the world to change around them.
Many brands aren’t run by millennials, and Gen Z-ers are simply too young. This concerns a lot of older business owners because they are intimidated by the unknown of catering to these younger generations. On the other hand, if a brand is to have longevity, they must appeal to a younger audience, as they are, after all the future consumers. From a marketing perspective, that makes millennials and Gen Z very attractive audiences for brands to reach.
A brand must understand that generation-driven marketing is all about understanding the nature of the audiences of the future consumers. Both Gen Z and millennials are far more in-tune with all of the options they have in front of them, and many ways by which to make a decision about what brand is best for them. The only way, therefore, to captivate them is to reach them where they spend their time and appeal to them with an authentic, quickly engaging, value-based, communal approach that they value greatly.