One of the most interesting – and arguably the funniest – aspects of pop culture today is the ‘generation war’ that seems to have broken out in recent years. Regardless of where you seem to look on the internet today, there are signs of this generational conflict.
A recent BBC article, for example, pitted Gen X, Gen Z and Millennials against each other to decide who has the best fashion sense. In sartorial terms, the differences between the three generations couldn’t be starker, with Gen Z preferring box cuts, garish prints, loud colours, and items that by more conservative standards are considered ‘ugly’.
Although ostensibly more concerned with stylistic expression, the generational differences in fashion sense are indicative of deeper divisions and differences in outlook. These differences have implications not only for the way they dress or what music they listen to, but also the way brands and businesses can improve their outreach through their advertising campaigns.
In this article we explore the generational tensions in the context of SEO. Will traditional SEO approaches prove effective for Gen Z, or are the techniques that worked with Millennials now hopelessly out of date? Keep reading to find out!
Millennials, Gen Z and Gen X: what’s the difference?
Before we move on to tactics and strategy, we need to have a sound understanding of who exactly a Millennial is and how their tastes and preferences differ from those of a Gen Z consumer.
Nowadays, we tend to break down consumers into four categories: Baby Boomers (or ‘Boomers’), Gen X, Millennials (or Gen Y) and Gen Z (or ‘Zoomers’).
Boomers are the oldest generation, and were born any time between 1946 and 1964. Gen X captures anyone born between 1965 and 1980.
The next two generations are differentiated on a technological basis, as both were raised in the digital age. Millennials were born anywhere between 1981 and 1996, while Zoomers were born between 1997 and today.
Gen Z vs Millennials: changing tastes?
Given that Millennials and Gen Z will be responsible for the majority of current consumer spending – with Baby Boomers and Gen X naturally less inclined to spend on consumer goods given their age – marketers and advertisers have put a lot of effort into understanding how to capture their attention.
However, there are significant differences even between these two groups with regard to the type of campaigns they respond to, as well as their overall spending and consumption habits. Here’s a quick rundown of some of these differences:
- Customer experience: According to consumer research, Millennials tend to prize customer experience more than Gen Z. This means that they will be more willing to pay for enriching customer experiences with generally higher expectations.
- Company trust: Another interesting statistic is that Millennials appear to trust companies at a slightly higher rate than Gen Z. This would also indicate the importance of loyalty to brands for Millennials. Declining trust in companies, brands, social institutions, and other sources of societal authority is prevalent amongst Gen Z.
- Value versus experience: Zoomers tend to be more pragmatic and thrifty when it comes to consumer spending. They are attracted by purchases that represent value for money, while Millennials tend to focus on the quality of the experience gained from buying a product.
- Authenticity: Although Millennials are concerned with brand authenticity and brand values, Gen Z take this to an extreme. For Zoomers, the idea of buying from a brand that doesn’t align with their values is a complete non-starter. Gen Z consumers care much less about a polished marketing campaign, preferring a message that speaks from the heart.
While this is just a snapshot of the differences in terms of consumer spending habits and preferences, it provides a good overview of the main differences between the two pivotal generations. With this in mind, we can move on to thinking about how we can incorporate these insights into our digital marketing strategies.
Adapting your digital marketing strategies
Given that Millennials and Gen Z account for over half of all consumers in America – with Gen Z comprising the bigger portion at around 28% – it is clear that marketers need to understand how to adapt their strategies to match these preferences.
Zoomers are not as responsive as Millennials to traditional advertising methods. Using search engines to navigate the web, however, comes as second nature, and the best way to reach them is via a well-planned digital strategy.
They have greater fluency in keywords than older generations, who have needed to learn this as a second language, making content optimisation ever more pressing. Webpages need to load quickly, and should be optimised for new technologies such as voice search.
Incorporate more long-tail phrases in your content, and make sure that it is mobile–friendly. Another point to note is that Zoomers tend to qualify their web searches with words such as ‘cheap’, ‘best’, ‘how to’, ‘top’, ‘affordable’, and ‘guide’.
Alongside search engine fluency, Gen Z have been using social media since making their first school friend. It goes without saying, therefore, that a well–orchestrated social media presence plays a key role in connecting with this generation. However, Zoomers are also more sceptical of social media, and tend to place less reliance on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Content marketers should make sure, therefore, that they are covering all bases when it comes to the selection of social media platforms.
Another area of differentiation is the type of media content preferred by the two consumer groups. While Millennials tend to prefer written content – especially long–form articles – the preferences of Gen Z seem to be for visual content – especially video. For a targeted approach, therefore, a mix of both written and audio-visual forms of content should be used – or written forms such as editorial with video guides – to maximise impact on the two different generations of consumers.
Adapting to the change
If all this talk of generational change has prompted you to start thinking about how you can adapt your digital marketing strategy for the younger generations, why not get in contact with one of our marketing teams? Purecontent has a team of highly qualified content creation specialists who can help to devise an effective strategy that will give you an edge in the ‘generation wars’. Book a consultation and get started today!