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PART 1: Millennial vs. Generation Z

Gianni WN2

PART 1: Millennial vs. Generation Z

As part of an ongoing research project into trends, our summer intern from High Point University in NC, Gianni Pellegrini, has written a series of articles, with this being the first in the series. We welcome your comments.

Trends are constantly changing in today’s society, and it can be tough for companies to keep up at times, but one generation is trying to make that very clear to them. Generation Z consists of those born after 1996, 71.7 million in the U.S., and they claim to be more “real” than the previous millennial generation.

While millennials grew up in a time of rapid change, Gen-Z was born into the new age of technology and did not have to adapt as seriously. Having that set idea of what they want and expect from the world can influence their decisions on what brands they use, and they have high expectations. With more and more small local businesses opening, Gen-Z tends to support them instead of big corporations because they prefer a sense of authenticity and low-volume craftsmanship to a brand name or quantity.

While they are not Gen-Z’s main choice for products, big corporations have found ways to market to them. One of the most effective ways is to use real people instead of the typical celebrity appearance, such as Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign (2004). The ads showed consumers that you don’t need a team of hair stylists and makeup artists to look like them, and this brought a sense of authenticity to the brand.1

One Gen-Zer said, “The key is to know your brand andevolve accordingly. Quick about-faces and trend-chasing will be seen for what they are,”2 This generation wants to see brands truly understand who they market their products to, but first they’ll have to gain the trust of Generation Z.

1 Josh Perlstein, AdWeek.com, 2017
2 Lucy Handley, CNBC, 2018

Millennials as those born between 1977-1995 and Gen Z as those born in & after 1996
“Generation birth years vary by geography… the big events that affect a generation can be drastically different, and trends can hit at different times.” Center for Generational Kinetics (genhq.com)