Mind the Age Gap: Marketing to Millennials and Gen Z Consumers

The younger generation is coming of age in an era where digital marketing reigns supreme. They are literate in social media and are not looking for information in the same way as prior generations. Marketing to these new consumer segments takes having a targeted plan in place.

Right now, two distinct generations know as “Gen Z,” and the “Millennials” get most of the attention of marketers. Millennials are getting older while Generation Z people are just hitting their stride. To fit in the latter group, you need to be born between the years 1981 and 1996. The oldest of the crew will be 38 years old this year. Gen Z refers to all the people born before 1995. The oldest is 23 this year. There’s almost four decades of a gap between the two groups at the far ends.

There Are Vast Differences Between These Segments

That significant gap means marketers must add more precision to their terms and targeting. It pays to consider just how different the youngest Gen Z member is from the oldest Millennial. There’s little chance they share any of the interest, and it’s not possible to market to them in the same manner. They don’t visit the same websites or use similar apps. That’s why it’s crucial to drill down and get specific for each age group among the broader membership.

As far as social media usage goes there are many differences between the two. The younger Generation Z people don’t use the same apps and have a higher degree of distrust than Millennials. Those older folks tend to think of social media as a life-changing tool. They likely consider it to be an integral part of their lives and hold the content in high esteem.

Familiarity Breeds Contempt for Technology

The youngest people tend to distrust social media. They have been using it their whole lives. They are not as likely to be impressed by the technology since it’s a regular part of their lives and always was. They use social media, but it’s use part of their tech experience. Growing up consuming social media means it lacks the “wow factor” that older people once felt. Still, they follow tons of influencers and use networks often.

Anyone who wants to get a message to this segment would invariably consider using influencers. Influencers with a consistent message are a fantastic starting point for marketers who want to reach this audience. They don’t have long attention spans, so stick with short video-based messaging for the best results. The good news is they will share if they like what they’re hearing. That helps amplify campaigns organically, ensuring a decent return.

Treat the Two Segments Differently

The older generation is price-conscious. This group is always scouring social media for deals on their favorite stuff. They don’t follow trends quite as much as the younger people do, but they do enjoy engaging with brands. Many of them have an activist mindset. They want to give their “two cents” whenever they can, especially on social issues. There are 75 million people in this group, making them an incredibly powerful collective.

When dealing with the older group of people, it makes sense to respect their boundaries. They are savvy about social media and understand the power of a review. Give them incentives to want to engage with your brand, and they will do so gladly. Make mistakes and expect to hear about it.

Right now the older cohort is in the lead with a larger audience. However, by next year, the younger generation will take over in sheer size. That means marketers must pay attention to emerging trends for this demographic cohort. They have been using smartphones for their entire lives and use apps more than any other group. Marketers must accept that they’ll need to reach them on apps on their phone for the most impact.

The Future Is Bright for Both Demographic Cohorts

Most of the time they spend online is to communicate with people they know offline directly. That’s why they love apps that connect them with their friends and family. They love video sharing and messaging. There is a ton of information out there about this cohort because they remain connected.

Both of these cohorts use the internet more than previous generations. It’s not likely heavy usage will slow down, either. People don’t tend to quit the internet, especially heavy lifelong users. Both segments utilize a diverse range of features that are crucial in their lives.

As time goes by, it seems likely that some users will alter their online behavior. With some people claiming social media addiction, it’s possible they may seek to limit their digital access. However, it seems likely that most of these two groups will use the internet extensively in their lifetimes. The younger generation will experience many of their relationships online.

Marketers are chasing targeted audiences who are passionate about a niche. Since they share and leave reviews, they tend to attract more like-minded people. These groups grow more significant as the years’ progress and marketers are always looking for ways to engage with this audience. Keep in mind the subtle differences between both, and it becomes a matter of finding them on the apps they love the most.

Younger online users love video sharing apps (even ones that feature Karaoke or other short-form video formats.) They aren’t looking for long-form content so don’t waste time. When someone spends a majority of their life online, they process headlines and thumbnails quickly. They can decide in an instant if they want to click. If they love what they see, they’ll help promote it to their circles. Many of them have large followings so they can amplify a message rapidly.

Now is an ideal time to go after these demographic cohorts. They intensely engage with online issues. They’re savvy about social media and always looking for something new and trending. Give them what they want, and the rest takes care of itself.