9 Differences Between Millennials and Gen Z, And Why It Matters

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I recently turned 50 years old. I’ve never really worried about my age. It’s just a number and all that, right? And, obviously I know more about the world than these up and coming younger generations.

But, I’m realizing that millennials and Gen Z have power. More than half of the nation’s total population is now made up of millennials and Generation Z. When combined, these two generations number 166 million as of July 2019, or 50.7% of the nation’s population. That means they now outnumber Gen X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation.

Millennials and Gen Z are changing the world. They will influence technology, innovation, customer experience, spending habits and purchasing, diversity, social norms, and so much more.

Who are Millennials and Gen Zers?

Millennials were born between 1980–1995. This means that in 2020, millennials will be in the 25–40 range.

Members of Gen Z are those born between 1996 and 2015. This puts the age group for Gen Zers in the range of 5 to 24 years old in 2020. 

Millennials and Gen Z are your employees, they are your customers, and they will be influencing everything your organization does in the future. However, there are slight differences between these generations. For instance, in how they shop, interact with brands, use social media, and view money and purchases.

Here are 9 differences between millennials versus Gen Z, and it matters because these two generations make up half of our population. This is what the care about:

Trust in companies

Gen Z is less likely than millennials to put their trust into companies, but they can be convinced to take a chance. In addition, Gen Z are more likely than millennials to believe that companies demonstrating social responsibility will strengthen their trust.

Corporate innovation

80% of millennials like companies that develop innovative products and services that meet the needs of their customers. Gen Z expects more innovation because they grew up in an age that was full of technology and innovation. For instance, millennials had VHS tapes, but Gen Z grew up on mobile phones and Netflix.

Customer experience

Millennials have high expectations for customer experience. They’re willing to pay extra for great customer experience. 74% of millennials say their standard for customer experience is higher than ever. Gen Z seems to be less concerned about great customer experience.

Shopping preferences

Millennials like to shop online. They use smartphones and laptops whenever they want to purchase something new. They like to do consumer research and read product reviews. On the other hand, Gen Z likes to shop in stores. They enjoy seeing and feeling the products in person to know that they are buying a high-quality product. 

READ MORE: What Do Millennials Want From A Mobile App?

Brand preferences

Millennials grew up when brand names were a status symbol. T-shirts, jeans, and shoes were the hottest trends and logos were all the rage. Gen Z is defined by their own personal style. They revel in their own uniqueness. They celebrate their own independence and use social media to find a place where they feel like they belong.

Spending habits

When it comes to views on money and spending habits, millennials are focused on the experience. They enjoy the entire experience of shopping when they’re buying a product. Gen Z focuses on being conservative with their spending. They grew up in economic turmoil and are mindful of their money. They don’t like conspicuous consumption and worry about their money running out.

Mobile purchases

Both of these generations are heavily connected to the internet and social media channels. Millennials watched the internet develop, while Gen Z has used it from a very young age. Millennials spend about 7.5 hours online, and Gen Z surfs nearly 10 hours a day.

Gen Z is more likely to make mobile purchases than millennials. Gen Z takes a mobile-first mindset, and it impacts how they shop. They are twice as likely to make a mobile online purchase than millennials.

READ MORE: What Does Generation Z Want In A Mobile App?

Social media usage

Both generations spend a lot of time on social media, but the social platforms they use are very different. Millennials like to use Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, and Twitter. On the other hand, Gen Z likes to use video-based platforms, such as Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Career motivations

Employee engagement is a challenge in organizations across all industries. A dangerously high number of employees have “checked out” on the job. They may show up for work, but their hearts are not really invested.

Both millennials and Gen Z are driven by higher education and career growth. But, many millennials are working or are still attaining higher education. Gen Z is more financially motivated when it comes to jobs. They value salary over other job perks and are driven to earn make and save money.

A need for authenticity

Millennials prefer organizations that provide transparency and share similar values. Brands that show real customers resonate with millennials because they want real content, not staged or Photoshopped content. Gen Z is even more willing to find brands that feel authentic. Gen Z wants to see content and marketing that is actually attainable and not overly polished.

Despite the differences between millennials and Gen Z, there are several relevant similarities. They both enjoy social media, the internet, and instant gratification. They like content and marketing message to be authentic and want companies to be trustworthy. And, they are mobile-first and rely on their smartphones to surf the internet and use mobile apps.

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