Gen Y vs. Gen Z: Marketing Approaches To Hit These Two Distinct Target Audiences

Gen Y vs Gen Z

An individual’s purchasing decisions are influenced by a wide range of factors. From socioeconomic background to the level of education, these differentiating components of a consumer can have significant effects on how an advertisement is viewed and a product is received. One dynamic that can be particularly influential is an age group or generation.

Shaped by the changes in the world during their lifetime, members of different generations can have widely dissimilar, and at times conflicting, viewpoints than those of other age groups, both older and younger. Two such generations with different spending habits are Gen Y and Gen Z. Despite being frequently confused with one another, these younger generations are not interchangeable, especially within the marketing landscape.

Below is a brief comparison of these two generations, as well as some strategies brands can use to target each group more effectively.

Who Are Gen Y and Gen Z?

Gen Y, also referred to as millennials, were born between 1980 and 1995. Due to the moniker of “millennial” being associated with the year 2000, this age group is often thought to be younger than it actually is; however, many millennials were coming of age at that time. In fact, the oldest millennials are now in their forties with kids, mortgages, and retirement plans.

Millennials also make up the largest living population, with more than 65 million members in the United States. Due to their dominance in the workforce and how many there are, members of this generation have been creating major waves in the way America does business. They also have incredible buying power and reportedly spend approximately $600 billion in the U.S. each year.

Gen Z, at 68 million strong, does not have the same spending power as their older peers but will see a significant surge in buying ability over the coming years. Born between 1996 and 2014, “Zoomers” are very young, with many still in school. Nonetheless, this newest generation of shoppers is starting to come into their own and has over $140 billion in annual spending, making them a major target for advertisers.

Both generations have had similar exposure to rapidly advancing technology, the spread of global centrism, and other transformations around the turn of the century. That being said, older millennials are familiar with a time before these changes, while Gen Zers have only really known a time of smartphones and the Internet.


Strategies to Target Gen Y vs. Gen Z

First things first, both Gen Y and Gen Z are tech-savvy and digitally literate, with much of their worlds revolving around the Internet. Gen Zers are especially proficient, as they have been exposed to high-tech devices from a very young age. As a result, these groups spend a lot of time shopping online, primarily on mobile. Marketers would be remiss to neglect this highly prevalent area by not updating to be as mobile-friendly as possible. This includes investing in mobile-first designs for online stores, websites, and apps.

Not only do these services need to look good on mobile, but they need to work fast. Loading speeds rank highly with both generations, as do accessibility and convenience in terms of the shopping process. Known to abandon carts if the experience is lacking, these groups require practically seamless shopping, checkout, and order tracking experiences if they are going to view a brand in a positive light. This could involve implementing a straightforward return policy and offering free shipping and delivery. Small businesses may find improving operations is easier through a dedicated e-commerce app or via third-party fulfillment services designed to make the shipping process as efficient as possible.

While there are many similarities, there are also differences in where and how the generations do their online shopping. Many Gen Zers do not have a credit card of their own yet. As such, it’s recommended to offer as many payment methods as possible, including online wallets, to target this generation of consumers. They also have a stronger tendency to use social media platforms with shopping features or tools. Referred to as “social commerce,” this type of purchasing happens entirely within an app, such as Facebook and Instagram.

Gen Z also closely follows the trends of influencers and online content creators on TikTok and other rising social media apps, more so than other generations. Marketers should bear in mind the importance of video content and video platforms like these, as their use is on the rise for both generations. It would also be prudent to consider forging strategic partnerships with influencers, other brands, and individuals who have already captured the targeted audience.

Lastly, brands should make it a point to be authentic and transparent when approaching both millennials and Zoomers. Driven by authenticity, these groups appreciate brands that work to develop relationships with consumers and gain their trust. As such, brands should avoid the hype that seems fake or forced. Instead, boost engagement and build brand loyalty through a humanized, omnichannel experience drawing on emotional connections and real value. Doing so may involve seeking feedback from previous customers, engaging on social media, and making consumer voices feel heard.


Revitalizing Marketing Campaign Tactics

As the younger generations continue to reshape the realm of business, brands must do what they can to keep up and meet their demands. Going forward, it’s advised to capitalize on the strategies that meet the needs of both whiles also trying new things to capture attention. Such experimentation shouldn’t be shied away from because, if there’s one thing we know about Gen Y and Gen Z, it’s that they’re very open to change and look to brands to be leaders in transforming the world around us.

For further information on how these two generations differ and ways to tackle their purchasing behaviors separately, please see the accompanying resource.

Author bio: Jay Catlin is CEO at AMS Fulfillment, a leading order fulfillment company servicing B2B and B2C clients nationwide. Catlin has been with the company since 2002 and helped grow AMS into the successful third-party fulfillment entity it is today.

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