Here They Come

By Neerja Singh


Blog, Boomers To Zoomers

“Ma, I don’t want to pursue law after my law school is over, my passion is elsewhere. I am not sure where but I will figure it out.”

“Pa, I don’t have the bandwidth for news that so reflects the state’s stupidity!”

“I don’t care about investing in houses and cars; this does not wash in the environment we live in today.”

“Why is the family not reserving space in the hills or digging trenches, what is our climate crisis backup?”

“Marriage is such a patriarchal institution; it doesn’t make sense anymore.”

“Why would I let society or family decide what my identity ought to be?”

“You only live once; I don’t want to miss out on anything.”

“All that matters is authenticity, I have to be true to myself.”

These millennial statements were flying in the air barely five years ago and they still are. Breakup parties, school graduation continuation parties, parents out of town parties, bachelorette binges, hookah lounges, the gay pride parade, the kinky collective, queer dating apps, vegans, vipassana attendees, kheerganga trekkers, hash-tag Himachal…my 80 plus mother would say, “We’ll see how long their jawani lasts!!”

Well, Moms are usually right because lo and behold, the new youth is here. And what are our Zoomers saying? Why, about the millennials of course!

“They are past their expiry dates, no big ideas there.”

“They are not very good with hashtags and gifs.”

“What is this obsession with small and simple things? So excited about growing a beetroot!”

“When will they outgrow Harry Potter’s Butterbeer recipes?”

“These guys are in denial, posting filtered pictures of their coffee on Instagram, we don’t use glitter, we are real.”

“We’re a lot more political than they were at our age.”

“We are desensitized; they seem to have internalized the snowflakiness and are sensitive.”

“Nothing is really off-limits for us because everything bad that could have happened has already happened.”

Alright, so millennials have had it rough at the hands of boomers but now it is Gen Z coming for them. The wheel is clearly turning if only partially. Because unlike my generation, millennials do seem to show support for the concerns of Gen Z. They seem to, in fact, go a bit overboard with lauding their ideas and outspokenness. Oh no, they don’t dismiss them as greenhorns, they, in fact, listen to the Zoomers. It’s another matter that Zoomers consider the millennial TikToks lame and in time may even come to resent their burdening them with saving the dying planet.

There is more. A difference in the degree of their generational sense of humor, the zoomers claiming superiority here since they consider themselves more desensitized. A few weeks ago there was this serial killer on the run, a double murder suspect called Peter Manfredonia. Gen Zs decided to invade his social media pages and comment emojis. They flooded him with really weird, overtly happy comments to try making fun of him. While Manfredonia’s family publicly asked for him to turn himself in, his since-removed Instagram profile was overrun with comments poking fun at and making light of the murders he’s accused of. And do they find episodes of Friends equally funny, if the zoomers watch those at all! There may also be a view of what is perceived as the millennial habit of oversharing their personal experiences.

In recent years marketers have harbored a common misconception that Gen Z and millennials are essentially the same. It is true that they are both highly connected to technology and the internet and can be considered to fit the category of “young adults” but while one is on their Finsta and TikTok, the other is still on Facebook. There is also a huge age difference, with the oldest millennials being close to 40 and the youngest members of Gen Z still in second grade.

Millennials grew up using DVD players, giant personal computers, cell phones with tiny screens, and dial-up internet. At that time, we thought these technologies were groundbreaking. Now, most children and teens within Gen Z have access to iPads, smartphones, endless Wi-Fi, or streaming services that put our prized DVD players to shame. While millennials watched innovation begin, Gen Z was immersed in it from day one. And this has taken a toll. As per research, Gen Z is a socially conscious generation but also the loneliest, with far more body image, mental health, and cyberbullying issues than any other age group have in the past.

And while both the generations care about finances and are known for improving on the financial habits of past generations, millennials put their money into buying more products or services that will give them a positive experience, while Gen Z is more focused on savings and practical products. While both spend a lot of time on the internet, while millennials spend around 7.5 hours online, Gen Z surfs for nearly 10 hours. They both go online primarily with mobile devices. Gen Z’s mobile-first mindset also impacts how they shop. Members of the generation are twice as likely to make a mobile online purchase than millennials. When it comes to online content consumption, both millennials and Gen Z spend most of their time watching videos and visiting social media sites, but the platforms they use are quite different. While millennials thrived on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, Gen Z seems happy using video-based platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok. The two social platforms in common are Instagram and YouTube, pulling in both millennials and the video-loving Gen Z members. YouTube is also the second-most used search engine and a platform where many in Gen Z and millennial generations go for product research.

When it comes to content consumption, each generation’s habits align well with its average attention span. While millennials are known to pay attention to content for 12 seconds, Gen Z will only stay focused on it for eight seconds. Furthermore, Gen Z enjoys quick or short-form video content, like that of Snapchat or Instagram Stories, while millennials value long-form content, such as detailed videos or podcasts.

Gen Z wants to focus on content that feels more informative and less like an ad. In fact, 84% of Gen Z will skip video ads as quickly as possible while 65% of them have downloaded some type of ad-blocker on their mobile devices or computers.

According to various studies, both generations spend less than past generations while the oldest Gen Z members are focused on responsible spending.

And when they do make purchases, they expect more added service from a brand. They also value free delivery and discounts or coupons. And although millennials may come out as more frivolous buyers, they also earn more annually than most older generations, are the most educated age group, and are notably optimistic about their futures.

While both Millennials and Gen Z are driven by higher education and career growth, Gen Z adults are more financially motivated than the millennial generation. Gen Z also applies for jobs more aggressively than past generations.

And while both of these generations are hard workers, highly educated, and might earn more than past generations, Gen Z is expected to be more driven to make and save money. The practicality of a product over the “trendiness” of it, always and every time.