Millennials and Generation Z or Gen Z are terms that are thrown around in daily conversations. However, do you really understand the difference? Who are the millennials and who are Gen z and why it is important for us to understand these categories and their essential differences?
Well, let us start at the very beginning by understanding the term generation. Generation refers to the collective thoughts, beliefs, and practices of people who belong to the same time across different spaces. Though the characteristics will vary based on the place, a general trend and similarity and thought process are observed, especially after the world has become more connected than ever with the coming of the internet. Thus, when you study a generation, you get to understand what the world was thinking and doing at a period of time.
So, why do we need to study generations? Well, the existence of an individual depends on the interaction between two or three generations. For example, the millennials grew up in a household of baby boomers, while they interacted with gen Z later on and some of them even have gen Z kids! So, in order to sustain harmoniously, it is important to study and understand every generation. Apart from this, understanding generations has a huge benefit in the marketing industry. In order to create something which will be viable and catchy, one needs to understand the moods of the current generation, and hence, marketers often find themselves trying to understand every generation.
Who are millennials?
Millennials are broadly those who were born to Baby Boomer parents, and their timeline can be mapped from say from 1980-1995. So, if you are currently between 25-40 years of age, you are a millennial.
Who are the Gen Z?
This refers to all those born between the period 1996-2015. Those born after 2015 are referred to as the Generation Alpha.
What are their differences?
Seachange in socio-economic conditions, the coming of the internet and various other factors have contributed to giving rise to a palpable difference between the two generations. What are they? Let’s take a look:
- Attention span
This is very important to understand when it comes to marketing. The attention span of millennials is around 12 seconds. That is they can be gripped into a particular thing for 12 seconds. For example, suppose they are watching a YouTube video of 12 mins. It has been seen that most of them can hold their attention uninterruptedly for 12 seconds. When it comes to Gen Z however, their attention span on the same subject is most likely to be around 8 seconds.
- Formal Education and vocational training
It has been seen that Gen Z is more inclined towards vocational training or prone more to learning on the job than getting a formal education. A lot of them are keeping it up because of familial pressure, but the basic attitude is need-based. For the millennials, however, having formal education and degrees matter more as a sign or indicator of their efficiency.
- Optimism and Realism
Well, it has been seen that Gen Z tends to be more realistic and the Millennials more optimistic. The latter grew up in a period of more or less global prosperity and stability, unlike Gen Z, who to begin with, saw their parents struggle through a recession. The optimism of millennials pulls them through, while Gen Z is more realistic, and they work hard to achieve or reach their goal.
- Collaboration and Independence
Suppose you have a situation where you ask a Gen Z individual and a Millennial to come up with a campaign plan and give them the option to select a team if they want. It is more likely that the Gen Z individual will start working on their own while the millennial will call for a full-blown team meeting. This is a very vital difference between the two where the Gen Z is more independent and believe doing things on their own, while the millennials are more collaborative and believe in addressing a task at hand as a team. So, if you are looking for a team leader, millennials would make a better choice.
- Public and the personal
No points for guessing, but Gen Z is definitely more personal than the millennials. Millennials believe in sharing. They were the ones who designed and revolutionized our lives with social media, so it is but given that they believe in sharing than keeping everything private (think Facebook status updates). However, when it comes to Gen Z, they are more inclined towards keeping things bottled up within them or pen them down in a notepad than sharing it with the world. They are careful and selective, and hence, Snapchat is more popular with them, as they can delete their conservation too if they want.
- Ones who use the digital space and the ones who built it
The millennials were the ones who built the digital space and experimented with it, developing and exploring newer and bigger possibilities of establishing a connection with everyone around. Gen Z however, when they hit their teens (considering the ones who were born in 1996), came in contact with phones, the internet, and within a couple of years, social media as well. They start using the space that had been developed by the millennials and hence there is a definite difference in their perception of the world.
- Inclination towards innovation
When it comes to Gen Z, they are less likely to be fascinated by a new innovation than a millennial. Millennials grew up during a time without much technical innovation. But Gen Z saw a lot of innovations while they were growing up and hence their bar of expectation is much higher than the millennials. So, if you are a start-up and you want to impress a Gen Z client, well then you need to rack your brains harder!
- Saving and enjoying
For the Gen Z who was growing up during a time which saw much uncertainty in the market, it is but natural that in general will have a tendency to save more. Millennials are more relaxed and focused on enjoying the money that they have and will not think twice before investing it for an experience. Gen Z, however, will not be so liberal with their pocket.
- In-store and online shopping
Well, here’s a surprise! Gen Z is more inclined to go to stores and shop rather than millennials. Millennials who helped developed this platform, are more comfortable shopping online whereas when it comes to Gen Z, they prefer to go to a store, touch and feel the product, verify its authenticity with their own eyes and then buy it.
- Brands and personal choices
For the millennials, brands are everything. For example, if you will find most millennials rambling on about brands when it comes to making purchase choices, from phones to clothes. However, for Gen Z, it is more about the usability and practicality of the product. Brand value is not something that makes much sense to Gen Z and hence they will explore and make a choice for themselves as to which one is better. Gen Z is not so easy to impress because of their skeptical nature.
- Global citizens
When it comes to Gen Z, they are definitely global citizens. They grew up connected with the world, a connection which the millennials worked on the building. Gen Z has more in common with the global culture than with the local culture since the influences had come from global quarters when they were growing up. This is another very important difference to keep in mind about the two generations.
- Multiple roles in a single job and single role in multiple jobs
When it comes to Gen Z, they want to experiment and push themselves as much as possible, and hence, they look for multiple roles. For example, a Gen Z copywriter in an ad agency would love to venture into client servicing or attend sales pitches. They would be fluid and open to it. If you want to retain your Gen Z employee give them multiple roles and see what they have to bring to the table because a Gen Z individual is nothing if not original. When it comes to the millennials; however, the situation is a little different. They want to shift their jobs but not their roles. Unlike baby boomers, who were comfortable in one single job and one role, millennials want to switch jobs, get salary hikes and live a comfortable life. This again differs from the Gen Z who are adventurous but also cautious, whereas the millennials are attracted more towards stability in one sector.
So, these are some of the most basic differences between the two generations. These differences help us to understand the generations a little better and resolve the conflict of opinions with a more objective view. They help us in understanding both of them and form a synergy to take our society forward towards progress.