How Gen-Z is different from millennials 

And why cultural context amplifies differences among Gen-Z'ers

How Gen-Z is different from millennials 

A couple of weeks ago, an online bully rally on TikTok went viral. Generation-Z ridiculed millennials on the platform that is mastered by these digital natives. In fact, they made different videos about millennials being too self-absorbed by showing their unrealistic lives on social media. Gen-Z is tired of boomers bunching them together with millennials. Yet, what does that teach us about them? Read further to learn how the smallest nuances in cultural context can make or break a loyalty solution.

The only bully rally is just one example of why BrandLoyalty has built a connected collective of Gen-Z’ers across the globe. We’re continuously looking at future generations’ objections, needs and wishes to translate into pragmatic solutions, ready to be implemented tomorrow. 

Don't assume but listen to the experts

One week after the online TikTok bully went viral, we learned from our local experts that this generation clash translates to each country differently. Every Gen-Z’er has its own specific cultural context, and this ties together seamlessly with how they experience the world.

We discovered that all of them shared thoughts on the false assumptions of Generation Z. They strongly felt the need to speak up and set right the existing beliefs about their generation. The assumption that Generation Z is not interested in working hard but wastes time by making ‘stupid’ videos is a prejudice. In fact, Layla from London points out that thanks to these videos, Gen-Z actually highlights different views on global issues.

<strong>Don&#39;t assume but listen to the experts</strong>

Collectivistic versus toxic individualistic mindsets in Europe

According to the Gen-Z’ers in Europe, millennials are dominated by the addiction to the instant gratification of being seen and liked online. They are mostly known as luxury horses for whom physical appearance plays a more critical role than ever before. No surprise, that social media, and especially Instagram is vital for how they design their life: millennials look for ‘likeminded’ based on how they dress and what public places they go.

Sarah (20-years-old) in Amsterdam compares this with pillarisation; the separation of society into (extremist) groups based on religion and associated political beliefs. In her city, she witnesses distinctive pillars within the millennial generation while she experiences her own generation as more open-minded, non-labelled, authentic and genuine to others across ‘groups’. On top of that, Layla (23-years-old) in London is convinced that technology is simply a tool used to manipulate millennials into the toxic individualistic generation it is today.

Gen-Z’ers in Europe identify themselves as being more collective compared to the toxic individualism of millennials. So, it’s important to consider this generation’s need for community, belonging and purpose.  

Technology replaces reality vs. unravels the truths of the world in Russia

Helena (19-years-old), based in Moscow, believes that millennials are creative but never fully use their creativity, and therefore do not develop their full potential in life. According to her, people must look at reality to evolve as human beings. On Instagram, people can show off, look rich, skilful and beautiful (#thanksphotoshop), but in reality, it is all different. Helena argues that millennials use technology to replace their reality whereas Generation Z uses it to unravel the truths of the world. 

Now let’s compare how Russian and European Gen-Z’ers look at millennials. According to the local experts, Russian millennials replace their reality through their online behaviour, whereas European millennials hide from reality. The difference seems small but looking closely at how they position themselves by the act of replacing and the act of hiding in today’s world, implies different motivational drivers. And this could make or break a loyalty solution.

We are most of the time collecting political messages and information about world issues from different perspectives, in order to create our own opinion and decide where our next steps are met. Layla, 23-years-old, London
I feel that millennials could rule the world by using Instagram, but instead, they just keep scrolling hiding from their real-life: problematic!! Sarah, 20-years-old, Amsterdam
In China, millennials like to have a cat, because they experience a lot of stress in society. Most of the millennials start working and need a cat to pet and to comfort them. But more so, I think it just adds to their cute online identity. Ling, 23-years-old, Shanghai

Loneliness in Japan

In Tokyo, Generation Z believes that millennials care more about free time than about working hard. Whenever Hiroki (24-years-old) asks his older friends about what they find essential in a new job, everyone mentions salary. However, according to Hiroki, even though millennials aim to earn a fortune, they don't know how to spend it. This ties back to the high rate of loneliness in Japan. In the absence of immediate social networks and friendship groups, Tokyo’s unaccompanied youth often turns to the impersonal anonymity of the online world. They use technology for everything and get all information via their phone.  

Through the eyes of our Japanese Gen-Z’ers, the distinction between millennials and themselves is not as high compared to the rest of the Gen-Z community. By understanding how a social and societal problem such as loneliness dominates the everyday needs and wishes of today’s youth, creates a sense of context in which we design our loyalty solutions. It provides us with the opportunity to understand a local trend (and problem) from a local perspective, and thus create experiences that fit and grab them by the heart.  

The changemakers 
within the traditional and harmonious culture in China

In Chinese society, according to Ling (23-years-old), harmony is preferred over disagreement and individualism is not advocated. However, Gen-Z tries to state the facts and urge the rest of the public to think about better life solutions. Ling believes that most people fear to speak up due to social norms. And so do millennials, they entirely focus on creating their ideal identity by sharing everything on social media. Their ‘curated’ identity is easily influenced by funny items and trends that add to this harmonised image. Gen-Z on the other hand is not afraid to speak one's mind and challenge anything that feels incorrect.  

Traditional culture wherein harmony plays a vital role is challenged by the voices of Gen-Z, yet millennials are still afraid to speak up. These insights provide retailers the opportunity to offer loyalty solutions that fit ideal life solutions for the next generation. To take a stand and drive change for the better.

<strong>The changemakers&nbsp;<br />
within&nbsp;the&nbsp;traditional and harmonious culture in China</strong>

Gen-Z community with year-round insights

Understanding how Gen-Z differentiates themselves from millennials is just the beginning. Last month, our Gen-Z community was involved in tackling strategic business topics. And currently, they are tracking their healthy habits for numerous consecutive days to help us understand what health means to them and how this translates into their everyday life. Throughout the course of one year, we learn from them about topics that are highly relevant to our core business. 

So, how does it work?
Our research experts have created an online place where a group of Gen-Z’ers are all collectively connected. It is a diverse group of youngsters unified by the shared values of their generations. They are based in Amsterdam, London, Moscow, Shanghai and Tokyo. The setup is a qualitative research structure that captures and forecasts the young and Gen-Z mindset. 

Although Generation Z is seen as the most connected and globalised group of people, for whom online and offline experiences tie seamlessly together, we should never forget to consider how their culture and direct context influences their mindset, values and their motivational drivers to be who they appear to be in today’s world of retail.

<strong>Learn more about how our Gen-Z community ties into our work?</strong>

Learn more about how our Gen-Z community ties into our work?

For more information about how we use the Gen-Z community to test and influence our concepts and decisions and how it could influence your loyalty campaign, reach out to your BrandLoyalty contact person.

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