Key Differences Between Millennials and Gen Z: What Marketers Need to Know

4 Key Differences You Need to Consider When Marketing to These 2 Digitally-Savvy Generations 

Gen Zers are not just younger Millennials. 

If you see them that way, I encourage you to take a second look. When you do, you’ll realize that these two generations are really quite uniquely their own. 

These two generations require different marketing approaches on social media in order to capture their attention. 

Their combined influence online, and their purchasing power, continues to rise. So lumping these two very distinct generations together is a huge mistake for a marketer to make. 

Defining your strategy for each generation requires an understanding of what makes Millennials and Gen Z different in the first place. 


Let’s break it down.

Who’s a Millennial?

In door number one is the Millennial. According to the Pew Research Center, a Millennial is a person born between 1981 and 1996. But it’s not just the time they were born that makes them so unique. 

Millennials grew up in a world of fast changing and new technologies. They had to quickly adapt to the online world with the advent of the Internet at home. In fact, many Millennials remember a time before the Internet, and often have nostalgia for things such as dial up tones and AOL Instant Messenger. 

Besides learning to be agile in a fast-changing world, Millennials are also known for being curious and independent. This is perhaps due to the fact that while many great things happened during Millennials’ formative years, like the Internet, there were some not so great things too, like the economic downturn that hit as many Millennials were graduating college. 

Who’s a Gen Zer?

In door number two is Gen Z. Unlike Millennials who remember a time before the Internet, social media and WiFi have been a part of Gen Z’s vernacular since birth. This generation are true digital natives. 

Because of this, members of Gen Z are often more progressive in the digital world than Millennials. It’s Gen Z that is often at the forefront of emerging social trends. 

This generation is also more likely to be bilingual and is the most diverse demographic yet. This means that Gen Zers often have a strong sense of social justice and care deeply about current issues and want to see companies care about those issues too. 

Key Differences on Social Media

While both generations are comfortable in the digital world, keep in mind that one generation witnessed the shift to a digital-first world and the other has never known a life without social media. That can create some big differences in how Millennials and Gen Z use and consume online content and shape their shopping habits. 

Let’s take a look at four key differences that are pivotal to forming your marketing strategy for each generation. 

1 | Social Media Usage Trends

Millennials like to pursue multiple types of content from video, to photos, to newsletters. Millennials check their email way more often than Gen Z does. While Millennials do divide their time across platforms a bit more evenly than Gen Z, the top 3 platforms they frequent are Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Millennials also have a longer attention span than Gen Z, twelve seconds versus eight. So Millennials are much more willing to watch longer-form content. 

Gen Z on the other hand, leans heavily toward mobile video content. They prefer shorter form video content on platforms like TikTok and YouTube. So while Millennials are more likely to check their email daily, you’ll find Gen Z logging into TikTok daily instead. 

The Takeaway: It’s worth repurposing your message into both written and video format for Millennials on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. For Gen Z, you’ll get a better return on investment (ROI) with TikTok video content that is fun and direct. 

2 | Brand Trust and Loyalty

Millennials are much more trusting of companies than Gen Z. That being said, Millennials still want companies to be transparent and upfront about their values. They also expect a certain level of perfection when it comes to social media content, with more polished and aesthetically pleasing content. For them, it’s about consistency across your brand’s visuals.  

Gen Z, however, is less trusting of companies and would prefer to see more realistic content over idealistic. They prefer ads with everyday people over celebrities endorsing a brand. They also want to see a brand showcasing more diversity and inclusion in their advertising and marketing to reflect the world they live in.

The Takeaway: Be transparent and upfront about your brand’s values with both generations. While Millennials prefer a more curated feed, you can utilize influencer marketing to reach both generations, as they both see influencers as a friend recommending products. Just be sure that if you decide to go the route of using influencer marketing, you hire the right person for your brand and set clear expectations.  

3 | Customer Experience

Millennials place huge value on the customer experience. They have higher expectations than any of the other demographics throughout the purchase journey. This means that response time is crucial when dealing with Millennials. 

Gen Z prefers personalization when it comes to their customer experience. They like content that is tailored, such as Spotify playlists, so they expect the same from brands marketing to them. 

The Takeaway: To connect with both generations, make sure your customer service is fast and accessible. Then drill down to personalize that service; Millennials will appreciate a higher level of personalization and Gen Z will demand it if you want them to return. 

4 | Online Shopping Trends

Millennials love to read reviews before making a purchase decision. Once that purchase is made, Millennials also place value on a brand’s ability to translate those products or services into a digital experience. In other words, they want a pleasant, seamless purchase journey from beginning to end. 

Gen Z is all about being able to make mobile purchases. In fact they are much more likely to make a purchase on a cell phone than Millennials. Beyond having a good mobile experience, Gen Z also loves a good deal. They like to maximize every dollar with coupons and reward programs.

The Takeaway: Mobile optimization is key to meet the expectations of both generations. The user journey should be intuitive and you should also work to make your social posts shoppable, such as on Facebook and Instagram. 

Let the Pros Develop a Strategy for You

If getting down into the weeds on segmenting out your audience by generation and other factors seems overwhelming, let the pros do it for you. Attuned is an experienced marketing firm that isn’t afraid to look at the big and micro picture when it comes to developing marketing strategies. Contact us today so we can help you break through and experience game-changing results.