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Millennials vs Gen Z: Why marketers need to know the difference

The question of Millennials vs Gen Z is something that all marketers need to be aware of. Knowing how to cater to each demographic can have a big impact on your overall performance.

Almost every brand and one of the common mistakes marketers make when trying to reach them is to put them in the same category. While there are similarities between Millennials and Gen Z, the differences are so impactful that you'd make a big mistake by not addressing them. So, to clarify all of this, let's outline why marketers need to know the difference between Millennials and Gen Z, and what those differences are.

Why it is important to differentiate between Millenials and Gen Z

At first glance, it might seem that Millenials and Gen Z are essentially the same. Both represent a group of young, tech-savvy people who find it natural to use modern technology as everyday convenience. But, while both Millenials and Gen Z grew up with access to modern technology, there is a notable difference in how they perceive it.

Growing up with technology

To make things clearer, millennials refer to people born between 1981 and 1996. Gen Z are born between 1997 and 2012. This is important to note as, while both grew up with access to technology, their access to it was quite different. For example, a person in 1985 grew up watching VHS and using Floppy discs to install 2D games on their Pentium IV. A person in 2005 likely won't know what any of this means. But, they will know how to download a game from Steam while scrolling through TikTok and chatting on Snapchat. So, while technology was present in their lives, their experience of it was quite different. That experience, as it turns out, has even shaped how they approach modern content and how readily they interact with technology.

A retro gaming console with VHS tapes next to it.
It can be hard to compare the technology that Millennials grew up with and the technology available to Gen Z.

Why you need to differentiate them

In the further paragraphs, we will go into more detail about what Millenials and Gen Z have in common and what sets them apart. But, before we do, it is fair to wonder whether differentiating between them is really that important? Sure they have a different experience of technology, but is that difference significant enough so that marketers need to approach them differently? Well, simply put, it is. Especially for a marketer wishing to develop their brand. There are large discrepancies in how and why millennials and Gen Z engage with online content. If you don't address these differences, you can easily fail to engage both millennials and Gen Z.

For instance, Millenials are far more willing to provide personal data than Gen Z. On the other hand, Gen Z is far more likely to listen to social media influencers. These differences have serious implications on how you should optimise your marketing campaign. Fortunately, there are ways to cover both of the demographics. But those are only viable if you first have a clear idea of what makes each of them unique. So, let's now move on to describing what Millennials and Gen Z are like when it comes to engaging with online content.

Understanding Millennials

Millennials are, arguably, the last generation that still has a starry-eyed view of technology. Seeing how fast and how much it developed during their lifetime, it is easy to understand why. Going from cordless phones to iPhone 15 is a big journey, which is why it is understandable that Millennials still have a sense of awe when it comes to technology. While they are aware of the dangers of the internet, they still perceive it as an overall safe and interesting space. This, as you'll soon see, has some serious implications on how to best engage millennials with marketing content.

Educational and informative content

The first thing to recognize is that Millennials like to learn. Far more than Gen Z, they are willing to go through educational articles, how-to guides, tutorials, or in-depth analyses. In fact, they actively seek out content that helps them learn new skills or gain knowledge. And they don't shy away from doing their own research.

A video of how product is made
If Millenials wish to know something, they will research it.

Why is this important for marketers? Well, if you wish to engage with Millenials, you better provide them with some valuable information. Instead of focusing primarily on presentation, you need to look closely at the informational value of your content. If you manage to give millennials the impression that they are learning something of value, they will be far more willing to do further business with your brand.

Social media engagement

Millennials still predominantly use the more "old-school" social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Using these platforms is a part of their everyday routine where they readily interact, like, comment, and share. Most find a lot of enjoyment from sharing content with their friends and discussing various subjects. This relates to their eagerness to learn and educate one another. Millennials also tend to find user-generated content and community-driven posts particularly appealing. If the content creator is a millennial, they will likely hit the right notes and maintain a sizable audience for a long period.


Story content, as a whole, tends to be quite effective with modern audiences. This is especially true when it comes to Millenials. As a rule, they resonate with content that tells a story, whether it's through personal anecdotes, brand narratives or user journeys. Whether it is videos, blogs or web stories, millennials will appreciate content that has a clear narrative structure. Furthermore, they appreciate content that connects on an emotional level. So, if you can blend in informational value with the emotional aspect, you are sure to find a millennial audience to listen to what you have to say.

Understanding Gen Z

Gen Z was born and has grown up with easy access to the internet. While Millenials had access to technology, most of it was offline, at least while they were young. Meanwhile, Gen Z used phones, computers, and tablet devices that were all online 24/7. As such, their approach and view of modern online content differs from millennials. Where Millenials would use Google, Gen Z will opt for TikTok. And where Millenials would use WhatsApp, Gen Z would Snapchat. These are just some of the differences between the two.

Digital natives

Because they've grown up with it, you'll have a hard time finding a Gen Z person that isn't tech-savvy. Using the internet, smartphones, and social media is as natural to them as walking or eating. This makes them adept at navigating various digital platforms and transitioning from one to the other with ease. But, this also has them inherently expecting seamless, integrated experiences. While Millennials still have a degree of respect toward technology, Gen Z sees it as an everyday occurrence. Therefore, they will have far less patience for loading times, poorly optimised onboarding or intuitive interfaces.

Growing up with smartphones has had a major impact on Gen Z.

Interactive and participatory content

Another trait of Gen Z is that they wish to interact with their content. While Millennials wish to learn, Gen Z put entertainment at the forefront. This makes interactivity the easiest way to keep their attention. They enjoy content that allows them to participate, such as polls, quizzes, challenges, and interactive stories. If your content doesn't have that, you are likely to miss the mark with Gen Z. Furthermore, any novelty related to marketing content will be more than welcome. Be it a new trend, a new approach, or even a new meme, Gen Z will be more than happy to engage with it. Even new technology like AR filters and experiences on social media platforms are popular among Gen Z for their interactive and immersive qualities.

Privacy and Security

Lastly, Gen Z is far more conscious of privacy issues and data security. While Millenials do recognize the importance of online privacy, they aren't as invested in it as Gen Z. They prefer platforms and content providers that prioritize user privacy and highlight their safety measures. Furthermore, if you plan on gathering customer data, you will have to be quite persuasive to get it from Gen Z.

Another aspect of their need for privacy is that they favour ephemeral content that disappears after a short period, such as Instagram Stories and Snapchat.

Is there a middle ground?

So, you have one ground that values educational content and storytelling, while the other values interactivity and privacy. Is there a way to address them both? Fortunately, there is. Millennials and Gen Z share as many similarities as they do differences, but it is still important to understand what the potential setback can be when implementing these middle-ground solutions. The last thing you want to push is lukewarm content that doesn't cater to either Millennials or Gen Z.

Leverage video content

If you wish to engage both Gen Z and Millenials, we suggest that you start by creating quality video content. Use platforms like StorifyMe to create short, engaging videos that you can then integrate into your website. Short-form videos are popular with Gen Z, while Millennials appreciate concise yet informative content. So, ideally, you will create bite-sized videos that have some educational purpose. Make sure to create videos that tell a compelling story. Ensure the narrative is quick to engage Gen Z and has enough depth to interest Millennials. Remember that you can span the narrative over multiple videos so don't try to cram everything down, just to cater to the depth that Millennials prefer.

Focus on authenticity

Both generations value authenticity. After all, they've seen their fair share of generic marketing content and pointless commercials. So make sure to use real people, real stories and transparent communication. For instance, behind-the-scenes content can be a terrific way to showcase your brand's journey in an honest way. Another way to introduce authenticity is with UGC. Encourage user-generated content such as reviews, testimonials and social media posts. You should also look to leverage reviews to build trust and authenticity.

Interactive and engaging content

Don't shy away from incorporating polls, quizzes, and interactive stories on social media platforms. By doing so, you will engage Gen Z with participation and attract Millennials with the interactive experience. You should also make use of live streams.

You can even debate the question of Millennials vs Gen Z on your live stream.

Host live streams on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok.  Live content appeals to both generations by providing real-time interaction and engagement. Plus, it adds a bit to your authenticity and honesty. Just make sure that the person hosting the stream knows what they are doing, and that they understand how to represent your brand in the best possible light.

Visual appeal

Modern marketing is focusing more and more on visual appeal. So, if you wish to engage a younger crowd, you'd be smart to invest in high-quality images, videos and graphics. Modern AI tools make creating visual content far easier than it was before. If you are serious about your brand, we would still advise that you at least consult a visual designer. With their help you'll be able to create a visual style that is in line with the core idea of your brand.

You should also look to use infographics to present information visually. This format is informative for Millennials and visually appealing for Gen Z. Of course, you shouldn't include infographics in every post, but if you have some important information to share, an infographic can be quite useful.

Mobile Optimization

Millennials spend, on average, 4 hours and 36 minutes on their phone per day. Gen Z crank that up to 6 hours and 5 minutes. So, whether you are trying to reach one or the other, it is in your best interest to ensure that your online presence is mobile-friendly. This not only includes optimizing your content so that it is mobile-friendly, but also optimizing your platforms for fast loading times and easy navigation are crucial. Also, if you haven't so far, you should consider developing mobile apps. Not all brands stand to make use of an app, but with proper monetization you can see a fair bit of revenue from your app. So consider carefully and look to invest in one.

Social media presence

Even though it can be tiresome at times, you should be active on multiple social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Snapchat. The more you are active, the easier it will be to find what resonates with your audience. Ideally, you should tailor your content to suit the unique features of each platform. After all, Millenials and Gen Z will respond differently based on the platform you are using. But, even if you can have different content, you should look to maintain consistent branding across all platforms. In time you will learn how to create platform-specific content that resonates with the target demographic.

Social Consciousness

Highlight your brand’s commitment to social issues like sustainability, diversity, and social justice. Both generations value brands that stand for something meaningful. Especially if what the brand stands for is reflected in how they orient their business. Show how your brand contributes to the community or supports social causes. This resonates well with Millennials and appeals to the socially conscious nature of Gen Z.

Keep up with ongoing social issues so that you know how to properly align your brand with them.

Influencer partnerships

Both demographics tend to react well to influencers. A well-spoken, honest influencer can do a world of good for a brand, especially if they are a natural match. So, look for micro-influencers within your industry who can relate to both generations. Once you do find ones that are decent, ensure partnerships feel authentic and genuine. While you might feel the urge to limit the influencer, thus better controlling the online representation of your brand, you should refrain from doing so. Both generations are turned off by inauthentic endorsements. And if they get a hint that you are somehow moderating their influencers, they are likely to leave both them and you.

Entertainment and humor

Lastly, make sure to create content that entertains, such as humorous posts, memes, and viral challenges. Entertainment appeals to Gen Z’s love for fun and resonates with Millennials' desire for engaging content. Here we would advise that you value quality over quantity. A well-crafted, funny video can easily become viral and significantly boost your online presence. While an endless slog of mediocre content will likely be ignored. Between these boosts of creativity, you should stay updated on current trends and participate in viral challenges and memes to connect with both generations in a relevant way.

Final thoughts

Most brands can resonate with both Millennials and Gen Z. Unless you are working in a very niche industry. your product/service is likely broad enough to cover the needs of both generations. But, in order to market yourself properly, it is paramount that you have a decent understanding of what your brand is truly about. The more you understand your brand, the easier it will be to find a natural way to connect to Millenials, Gen Z, or both.

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