As marketers, we have historically recognized Gen Z and Millennials as two distinct audiences with different sets of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. While Gen Z is the entrepreneurial “we” generation recognized for their high connectivity (and short attention span), Millennials are often characterized as ambitious yet pampered and “me” focused, thanks to their over-nurturing parents.
However, the common pandemic experience shared by Gen Z and Millennials in the past few months has aligned these two groups much more closely, impacting their key life decisions and predictions of the future.
Scared of financial risk.
Unlike Gen Z, who were in line to inherit a strong economy with record-low unemployment and more positive about their financial future, Millennials have been more price-conscious, because they came of age during the recession.
Today, they share more similar perceptions, with nearly the same percentage claiming that they feel economically confident and equally focused on building their savings in an uncertain future. In fact, 81% of Gen Z say that the coronavirus impacts their view of the economy versus 82% of Millennials, according to Prosper Insights & Analytics’ April survey.
- This could have significant implications for marketers and the real and perceived value of the products and services they provide as both groups focus more on making smart choices with their money and consider the expense—and payback—of their spending decisions.
Putting our nation first.
Despite Millennials’ “me-focused” reputation, both they and Gen Z believe that it is time to make self-sacrifice for the good of the country, no matter the differences in their individual goals.
From personal compromise to public activism, both groups have a growing sense they can impact the world. And an overwhelming majority believe that “brands or companies who participate in social issues earn my respect” and “it’s important for brands and companies to play a bigger role in social issues today,” according to a Viacom/CBS Global Consumer Insights’ 2020 Youth Decoded study.
- This means brands that authentically contribute to corporate responsibility efforts, invest in their community, or stand for and act on a positive and relevant social value can drive greater preference and loyalty among both targets.
Certain of uncertainty.
When it comes to the disruption caused by COVID-19, both Gen Z and Millennials agree strongly on the lack of certainty the future holds, with 58% of Gen Z and 56% of Millennials believing it will take between four and 18 months for things to return to normal.
Both groups are experiencing high anxiety about how the pandemic will affect their realities. Nearly a third of both segments say they have become more spiritual and religious as a result of the pandemic.
- For marketers, the agility to respond quickly and speak to current and shifting conditions—and their audience’s priorities, concerns, and immediate goals—will separate winning brands from those that maintain a tone-deaf status quo.
The gap between Gen Z and Millennials has never been narrower now that this tumultuous year is altering both generation’s habits, values, and outlook. The implications of this shift can create market leverage for brands who listen well and respond appropriately—or a potentially insurmountable divide for those who don’t.
Want to know more about these targets, how they’re changing as a result of the pandemic—and how your marketing should, too? Contact us to find out more about AW Actionable Insights, our customized research, discovery, and strategic action plan.