“What is the difference between Millennials and Gen-Z?” That’s a question that has left many marketers scratching their heads. There are differences between the two generations. Big ones, in fact. Marketers need to be conscious of these discrepancies because even though Millennials seem to be the hot topic of conversation, Generation Z is growing their presence and influence. Currently, Gen-Z possess a buying power of $44 billion a year, and they will account for 40% of all consumers by 2020.

Experts say that when it comes to Gen-Z, marketers aren’t going to be able to target them as one homogenous group. So if it’s not smart to bunch Gen-Z together, it’ll be out right foolish to target them with Millennials. Here are the 4 key differences between the two generations that can help you make the right distinctions when targeting these groups.

Gen-Z is More Individualistic and Creative

Gen-Z is social, and they pride themselves on this uniqueness and their collective ability to create change.They’re also not fans of societal norms. In fact, the only norm they conform to is their generation’s tradition of embracing what makes them different from it. They defy gender norms, racial inequality, and any other social construct that attempts to box them in. Everything about Gen-Z screams individuality. And as they claim their independence from what the world wants them to be, they are constantly on the hunt for new artistic and creative ways to express that independence.

Now, why should this matter to you? Well, these young adults are more likely to engage with companies that align with their values and urge to be creative. Marketers should capitalize on opportunities to tap into Gen-Z’s passion of individuality and creativity.

Gen-Z is Less Price Sensitive

Millennials watched their parents run the world bankrupt and then forced them to deal with the ruins. Generation Y knows what it’s like to have everything and then lose everything; the Great Recession of 2008 taught them that. So it’s no wonder why Millennials are so price sensitive.

However, this is not necessarily the case for Gen-Z. Sixty-seven percent of Millennials surveyed said that they would go to the website to get a coupon, whereas only 46% of Gen-Z polled said they would do the same. One theory behind why Gen-Z are less price-conscious stems from the fact that most of them are still being supported by their parent, leaving them less inclined to be price hunters. However, another theory could be related to their desire to express themselves; sometimes it can be hard to put a price on one’s identity.

TRUE Digital Natives

A part of our misconception between Millennials and Gen-Z is that we tend to assert the same level of technical savviness to both generations. We often call Millennials the “digital natives”, but forget they still grew up with landlines, dial-up internet, floppy disks, and cassette tapes. Yes, they’ve seen the extremely rapid progression of technology, but this was still a process for them.

Gen-Z, on the other hand, is made up of the toddlers Apple first began testing usability with. All they’ve ever known is high-speed internet, free wifi and smartphones. 92% of Gen-Z has a digital footprint. They’re comfortable on almost every platform and are more tech savvy than their Millennial counterparts. That’s why we have to acknowledge that they are the true digital natives and are craving digital media.

They’re Techies, but They’re Softies

Millennials have caught a bad rep for being too plugged in since the rise of the digital revolution, and Gen-Z was expected to be just as bad, if not worst. However, Gen-Z has learned from the Millennials’ mistakes. In fact, 53% of Gen-Z value more face-to-face and personal interaction over messaging or emails. Granted, face-to-face doesn’t have to mean in person for Gen-Z. They have become accustomed to using platforms like Facetime, Snapchat, Skype and Google+ Hangouts.

Nevertheless, this desire for more human interaction is bound to gain significance as marketers try to figure out the best way to target this generation. Be prepared to find other ways besides emails and direct messaging to target Gen-Z. They value video content over everything else.

Remember to be both mindful and intentional when targeting Millennials and Gen-Z. It’s not a safe bet to assume that they are one in the same. Economist and historians have separated these two groups for a reason. There are obvious distinctions between them that marketers need to be aware of if they want to target the upcoming Gen-Z population effectively. Their individuality, buying behavior, tech skills, and need for human connection will guide how marketers reach and engage these influential young adults.



Want to engage the coveted Millennial and Gen-Z demographics? Finding the right partner is key to your success. Here at YMC, we’ve been helping brands connect with 15- to 29-year-old consumers for two decades—we’d be happy to share our wealth of knowledge with you. Contact us today!

Calvin Klein is no stranger to stirring up controversy. With their history of overtly sexual advertisements – mainly during the ’90s, the brand truly takes “sex sells” to heart when it comes to promoting their image. Given their recent surge in popularity, primarily among Millennial consumers, it seems like their controversial tactics may be working.

One of the keys to Calvin Klein’s success is directing their advertising efforts towards Millennial consumers through collaborations with pop culture icons such as Kendall Jenner, Justin Bieber, and Nick Jonas. However, the brand is currently under fire for their newest ads, that many argue are overly explicit and provocative.

In one photo, 23-year-old Danish actress Klara Kristin is seated on a couch, legs open, and the copy reads, “I seduce in #mycalvins.” Probably the most controversial of the campaign is the up-skirt shot of Kristin, accompanied by the copy that reads, “I flash in #mycalvins.” Outraged by these racy advertisements, people are turning to social media to express their concerns: do the ads promote and perpetuate misogyny, peeping toms, pornography, sexual harassment and rape culture? Many would agree that they do.

However, some Millennial consumers argue that the ads express a unique empowerment through the first person point of view. The line, “I ___ in #mycalvins,” conveys a sense of autonomy that gives the subject a voice and the power of decision. Kristin actually defended the photo in an Instagram post with the caption, “I love this photo @harleyweir took of me… all this discussion about it makes me think about how alienated and scared some people are to the female human body. Be and love yourself and your sexuality #girlpower.” Kendall Jenner has also voiced her opinion on the campaign. In behind-the-scenes footage that Calvin Klein posted on their Instagram, Jenner answers how she would define a strong woman: “I think a strong woman is independent, don’t need no man, can like walk into a room by herself and not be bothered and can go anywhere by herself and not need a million people around her–I think that’s a really strong woman.”

Amidst the heated debate, people cannot seem to agree on whether these ads are positive or negative. However, I believe that they’re neither one nor the other, but instead more complex in nature. On one hand, they can certainly serve as statements of empowerment and bodily ownership. Calvin Klein may be trying to make the statement that society should not be afraid to openly express sexuality. However, we cannot disregard in our analysis the historical objectification and hypersexualization of women in the media and its effect on society today. There’s the running critique that some women take their objectification upon themselves and mistake it for empowerment. I agree with this opinion to some extent, but I think the key here is balance. Yes, women can certainly feel powerful and confident by expressing their sexuality and celebrating their bodies. However, we should also feel empowered by the many other facets of our identities, because we are more than just sexual beings.

As a twenty-something with an interest in fashion and pop culture, I like to think I am always up on the latest trends and “in the know.” Therefore, it was a huge surprise to me when adidas apparel burst back on the scene a couple of years ago, seemingly out of nowhere. And at the forefront of the new adidas fashion wave was the Stan Smith tennis shoes. These white tennis shoes were popping up everywhere, replacing the neon Nike running shoes that (literally) ran the show my freshman and sophomore years of college. I was extremely interested in this adidas takeover and decided to trace this trend back to its roots.

The rise of the Stan Smiths can be attributed to the marketing genius of Jon Wexler, adidas Global Director of Entertainment and Influencer marketing. It seems as if the return of these sneakers was a calculated marketing move by the adidas team way back in 2009. They decided to revamp the classic Stan Smith tennis sneaker in a way that would appeal to Millennials. An article by The Guardian discusses this marketing strategy and states that Wexler “pretty much confirmed everything Miranda Priestly says in the legendary cerulean blue Gap jumper monologue in The Devil Wears Prada… He describes the Stan phenomenon as ‘the classic model of a trend continuum actually working.’” Which basically means, for those who haven’t seen The Devil Wears Prada, that the fashion industry leaders start trends by putting their products in the hands of trendsetters. These trendy individuals are being watched by the masses and once they are spotted wearing a new brand, it immediately becomes popular.

Wexler chooses who will represent adidas based on if they are authentic and if their actions align with the adidas brand. He stated in an interview with Complex that adidas looks for “people who are creative and groundbreaking, who set trends and forge their own paths and are not afraid of what people are going to say about that. Obviously the people [adidas works with] are iconic, because it is the most iconic brand in the world.” Wexler knew that he had to showcase the revamped Stan Smith sneaker with some of the most influential and iconic personnel in the fashion industry. He decided to entrust this task to Phoebe Philo, the creative director of Celine. He put the sneakers on her more-than-capable feet and the rest was history. When Philo wore Stan Smiths as she came out for the end-of-fashion-show bow during 2010 Paris Fashion Week, a trend was born. Philo was also one of Time’s Most Influential People in 2014 so that just emphasizes how putting the Stan Smiths on her feet was the best move adidas could make.

Since the reveal of the new sneakers in 2010 things have been looking good for the Stan Smiths and adidas as a whole. In 2013, Gisele graced the cover of Paris Vogue wearing nothing but Stan Smiths. In 2014, A$ASP Rocky and Pharrell Williams both made custom Stan Smiths. North West was also spotted wearing a pair of the sneakers, displaying the influence of the Kanye West-adidas partnership. The impact of adidas’ partnering with some of the biggest names in the industry is huge. These individuals have the ability to start a trend with one photo. Wexler discussed this stating, “When Kanye shows up in GQ wearing Pure Boosts or Stan Smiths, I’ve got to assume there is an impact [on sales].”

As for me, I purchased my first pair of Stan Smiths in the spring of 2015. I wore them with dresses, skirts, jeans, overalls…you name it. I was already known as the girl who was always wearing sneakers anyway, I just made the transition from Converse to adidas. Converse used to be my go-to sneaker but I, like most Millennials, have traded in basketball sneakers for tennis sneakers and Chucks for Stans. I was wearing my Stan Smiths over the summer on the New York City subway going to Brooklyn. A guy sitting across from me gave me a little head nod and mumbled, “Cool Smiths.” If a random hipster in Brooklyn compliments your sneakers, you know they’re cool. The innate coolness of the Stan Smiths was widely accepted by 2015 and adidas certainly took the chance to capitalize on this new image of their brand.