Marketing to Millennials vs Generation Z. What’s the Difference?

Irene Chan
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Is there a real need to draw a clear line between marketing to Millennials vs Generation Z?

Wouldn't marketing to Millennials (Generation Y) vs Generation Z cost your company more work, more time, and more money?

After all, you could have been marketing to these two groups the same way to date. They're both on social media. They're both online shoppers.  And they're always connected digitally.

So how different can these two groups be?

Now before you dismiss this idea of marketing to Millennials vs Generation Z, are you aware there's no one size fits all when it comes to marketing to your prospects?

Kaylene C. Williams and Robert A. Page published a paper that discussed marketing to different generations. They stated the importance of understanding the differences between each generation and how companies need to consider these differences.

This will result in companies having an easier time building relationships, gaining trust, and closing deals.

Applying a 1500-Year-Old Military Principle to Your Business

In Sun Tzu's The Art of War, they say the general who wins the battle makes many calculations before going to war. The general who loses makes few calculations beforehand. Many calculations lead to victories while fewer calculations lead to defeat.

In other words, you need to know your market well. That's even before you roll out your first marketing campaign to your target market. Only then will your campaign succeed.

Evan Carmichael, a global speaker and author, also agrees to this. “Know your target market if you want success in marketing your company. You need to know who you’re going after.”

Now, if you're applying the same principle to your business, wouldn’t you be keen to find out more about Millennials and Generation Z before marketing to these two groups?  Wouldn't you want to succeed in your campaigns when you market to them? 

At the end of the day, you want to show your customers you understand their problems more than they do. You want to show them you've got the best solution for them so you stand a greater chance of winning that sale from your target market.

Eye-Popping Statistics Your Business Simply Can’t Ignore

Pew Research Center reported there were 53 million Millennials in the American workforce in 2017. This group had more than $65 billion in consumer spending. And they can influence about $1 trillion in total consumer spending.

Compare this to Generation Z data. CNBC cited 61 million of Generation Z are entering the workforce in 2018. They're on track to become the largest generation of consumers by the year 2020. They account for $29 to $143 billion in direct spending.

Think about it for a moment!

There are billions of dollars waiting for your business to tap into when you market to these two groups. Isn’t it worth drilling down to discover more about these markets? Exactly how do you define these two groups?

Pew Research Center defines anyone born between 1981 and 1996 as a Millennial. Anyone born from 1997 to 2012 is part of a new generation called Generation Z.

Age-wise, Millennials are between 25 to 40 years old in 2020. Generation Z is now at the age of 9 to 24 years old.

Besides the obvious age difference, are there any other differences between these two generations?

The Other 2 Key Differences Shaping Millennials vs Generation Z

1. The Economy They Grew Up In

Millennials were born when America’s economy was still booming.

That’s not the case for Generation Z. Most of them were born between the recession years of 2001 (Sept 11) and 2008 (subprime mortgage crisis). And they've encountered their parents or someone they know who has lost their job. Top investment banking firm Goldman Sachs came to a similar conclusion.

It’s no wonder Generation Z grew up to become more practical, more frugal, and more careful with their money. This is the main difference between Generation Z and the Millennials.

2. The Impact of Technology

No doubt both generations grew up in the digital age. It’s Generation Z that’s considered digital natives. This generation grew up with a device in their hand. 

According to Think with Google, Generation Z got their smartphones much earlier at 12 to 16 years old. Contrast this with Millennials who owned their first smartphone at about 20 years old.

At such an early age, Generation Z is already used to accessing online information in an instant in a transparent way. They rely on online product or service reviews before they make purchases. 

To this generation, almost anything they want to know, they can find on their smartphone. They can do a Google search or watch YouTube. They're at ease with taking pictures and posting and commenting on their favorite social media platforms.

The attention span of both generations is also different. According to marketplace app Oberlo, Generation Z can use five screens at once.  Millennials bounce between three screens at the same time. These differences could be why Generation Z’s attention span is shorter. Vision Critical’s data shows it's 8 seconds for Generation Z and 12 seconds for Millennials.

So what do all these differences mean to you and your company?  And most important of all, how can you use this information to market to Millennials vs Generation Z? 

4 Ways to Market to Millennials vs Generation Z

1. Build Programs Your Market Wants

Generation Z grew up in an environment that understands the value of money, which could be why they’re less loyal to brands. Focus more on the financial aspect of their decision.

Based on Statista's research, only 40% of Generation Z will stick to brands they like compared to 60% of Millennials.

It makes more sense for your business to create loyalty programs for Millennials but not for Generation Z.

2. Select “Celebrities” Your Market Identifies With

Dana Communications' data showed 67% of Generation Z prefers influencer promotions compared to 37% of Millennials.

If you're targeting Generation Z and you've got the budget, why not have influencers provide authentic products or service reviews for your company? Why not have influencers post product reviews on Generation Z's favorite social media platforms?

In any case, Generation Z is familiar with checking products and services online before buying.  And they've been doing this from a young age. Interacting with social media platforms is the norm for them. 

3. Offer a Whole New Concept of Ownership for Your Products or Services

Vision Critical’s infographic showed 57% of Generation Z is more likely to buy products or services compared to 67% of Millennials.

Such findings are not surprising. In any case, Generation Z is more practical and tends to check a wide range of options online before committing to buy. If a product or service doesn't make financial sense, Generation Z will NOT even consider that product or service in the first place.

But what if ownership has taken on a new meaning?  What if owning doesn't mean having to own that physical product? What if the act of consuming is like having access to the products and services only?

This is what McKinsey and Company implied in their study. And that's how services like car-sharing, movie streaming, and online course subscriptions got started. If it weren't for the repackaging of these products into services, companies might have missed out on the Generation Z market.

Think for a moment. Doesn't this offer great opportunities for your company to reconsider what you can offer to Generation Z?

4. Send Marketing Messages to Social Media Platforms Your Prospects Love

You need to know which is the preferred channel for Millennials vs Generation Z.

According to Pew Research Center, Millennials prefer to use Facebook and YouTube. For Generation Z, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube are the preferred choice.

So why not choose the platforms frequented by your target audience?

And don’t forget. Make your marketing messages snappy to catch their attention.  Either group will switch away if your marketing messages don't resonate with them.


There’re differences when marketing to Millennials vs Generation Z and there’s no one size fits all marketing campaigns for these two groups.

You'll need to dig deeper into each target market to find out more about each before creating marketing campaigns for them. 

These are the marketing activities you can roll out when you market to Millennials vs Generation Z:

  1. Build programs your market wants.

  2. Select “celebrities” your market identifies with.

  3. Offer a whole new concept of ownership for your product or services

  4. Send marketing messages to social media platforms your prospects love

Contact us at to discover how the right marketing messages can help increase sales for your company.

Irene Chan

Are you looking for sales copies that convert your targeted audience into your customers? And to have optimized content loved by your market and Google? If this is what you want from your copywriter, Irene is here to help. She'll help you YOU generate more sales, more revenue, more business.

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