what Millennials, GenZ, Alpha generations are and how your brand can reach them – WAU
Understanding generational characteristics is part of marketing – after all, companies need to keep up with changes in consumer behavior. So we made a dossier with all the information about the millennial generations, GenZ, as well as those that preceded and what is coming!
Marketing does not stop! New strategies, new technologies, new methodologies are studied and applied at all times. After all, to stay relevant, marketing needs keep pace with changes social, economic and technological.
That is why, then, marketing is always keeping an eye on generational changes, especially on the millennial generations, Z, Alpha and others that are yet to enter the consumer market.
Each year, new studies appear on the behaviors of young people, on their motivations, their interests and how marketing should act to win over this audience, since it targets the needs and desires of consumers.
Of course, brands cannot lose sight of adults and the elderly – Generation X and Baby Boomers, for example -, who represent a large consumer market. However, it is young people who dictate market trends, inspire both the youngest and the oldest and point out how brands should act to ensure their audience in the coming years.
That’s why millennials and Z generations are in the sights of brands. They all want to understand how young people behave today, what content they like to consume, which channels they use to get information and relate and what matters to them at the time of purchase.
But it is also important to understand what the future holds: the next generations to enter the consumer market will bring profound transformations to marketing.
So, this is what we’re going to talk about now: how millennial generations, Z behave and how brands can communicate with these audiences. Shall we go a little deeper into this subject?
Generational behaviors: how generations differ
First, we need to make a time cut so that you understand who we are talking about.
Each generation refers to those born in a given range of years. For current marketing, we refer to those born in the mid-20th century until the beginning of the 21st century:
- Baby Boomers Generation: born between 1940 and 1960 (currently 60 to 80 years old)
- Generation X: born between 1960 and 1980 (currently 40 to 60 years old)
- Generation Y (millennials): born between 1980 and 1995 (currently 25 to 40 years old)
- Generation Z: born between 1995 and 2010 (currently 10 to 25 years old)
- Alpha Generation: born from 2010 (currently up to 10 years old)
However, it is necessary to make some considerations about these divisions. These birth dates vary widely depending on the sources and there is no consensus on them. The separation for years is also not watertight: for example, someone born in 1990 may behave similarly to someone born in 1980 elsewhere in the country, in another socioeconomic situation, in another context.
In addition, those born at the beginning of a generation are influenced by the previous generation, so some behaviors mix. For example, those born in the early 1980s may have more Generation X characteristics than millennials.
Therefore, understand that the dates of birth are approximate and that these generational separations are only trends that identify a large part of the group, but that cannot be generalized to all those born in these years.
Next, we will better understand the characteristics of each group, especially in relation to consumption.
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Baby Boomers Generation
We start with Baby Boomers Generation, which includes those born between 1940 and 1960. If you remember history classes, you will know that Baby Boomers were born in the period post-World War II – a time of reconstruction in the countries involved.
In London, these years coincide with developmentalism, when Juscelino Kubitschek promised “50 years out of 5” and Tropicália moved the London cultural scene. The country was in a phase of optimism!
It is in these contexts that Baby Boomers were born and raised, which today have 60 and 80 years. According to a study by Grupo Padrão, this is an idealistic, combative, disciplined and collective spirit generation, responsible for initiating the struggles for civil and political rights.
It is also the first generation to achieve the “right to be young” and the freedom to hit the road, listen to rock’n’roll and enjoy great music festivals – which inspires young people today!
For the consumer market, it is important to realize that Baby Boomers today concentrate much of the world’s wealth and major decision-making around the world, both at the helm of countries and large companies.
However, it is a generation that was not born or raised in the fast-paced world we live in today. For this reason, it is usually more resistant to changes, since prioritizes stability, especially in the career.
Whoever was born from the 1960s until the 1980s is called Generation X and today has between 40 and 60 years. These people still retain many of the characteristics of Baby Boomers, such as the search for career stability, discipline and respect for hierarchy. But they also reinforce the idea of freedom to be and enjoy whatever they want.
However, this generation grew up with the Cold War and, here in London, with the civil-military dictatorship. Therefore, the optimism is no longer the same.
Generation X is more skeptical of authorities and government officials, loses a little collective sense and becomes more individualistic and competitive. This is encouraged by the action of marketing and advertising, which intensifies on them.
It is no coincidence that many opened their own company and today represent a large part of entrepreneurs, including startups. According to Fiesp, 38% of London startups are people over 45 years old.
In addition, this is a strong generation when it comes to consumption. Although it doesn’t have all the wealth of Baby Boomers, Generation X has a high consumption power and seeks to take advantage of its economic condition in the most intense way possible.
Generation Y (Millennials)
This generation will be able to say: we were the last to know the world without internet. Born between 1980 and 1995 and currently with 25 to 40 years, a Generation Y (Millennials) was born with information technology and globalization and, with these phenomena, transformed the world. This group saw the Internet rise, the world become faster and information circulate quickly in a matter of seconds.
In London, millennials were born in the context of redemocratization (after the civil-military dictatorship) and economic and political instability, but saw the country begin to take safer steps with the emergence of the Real Plan.
Given these contexts, millennials have become much more flexible to changes. More than that: they are eager for innovation and the challenges of transformation. For them, stability is not so important, but passion, daring, experience.
Millennials are also questioners. Because they grew up with globalization, they developed a global vision – but they no longer want the world that their parents and grandparents left. They prioritize sustainability because they care about the future of the planet, defend conscious consumption and like to engage in social causes.
As they are constantly connected, they build and participate in relationship networks that corroborate their values and ideals. Their identity is no longer limited to where they live and their message reaches far more than a circle of friends – the internet has turned millennials into global citizens.
However, they are also characterized as immediatists. Since they’ve seen the world speed up, they want to get what they want as quickly as possible – whether it’s career success, whether it’s a mobile message. This also increases the levels of fear and anxiety of this generation, which faces serious psychological problems.
In addition, millennials have developed a complex, often fragmented way of thinking that reflects the medium they use most to relate and express themselves: the internet. This also results in a fragmented identity – now it’s one thing, now it’s another, now it’s all at the same time! – but nothing out of the ordinary for such a dynamic generation.
Millennials have recently become the subject of studies and analysis as they are the major force in the labor and consumer market. After all, they represent the majority of the country’s economically active population.
One of the best known studies on Generation Y was carried out by Box 1824 and generated this video below, which also helps to understand previous generations:
We All Want to Be Young (leg) from Box 1824 on Vimeo.
The study shows that, with the arrival of millennials on the market, the desire to be young became an obsession (We All Want to be Young, or “we all want to be young”, is the title of the video).
Generation Y has become a reference for the youngest and an inspiration for the elderly. Therefore, they have a high power of influence on consumption.
Another very interesting study was carried out by Think With Google and brings a division of this group: the Old Millennials and the Young Millennials.
This division occurs in any generation, but in Generation Y it is more evident due to two milestones: the rise of smartphones and the mobile culture (2007) and the breakdown of financial institutions that originated a global recession (2008).
The study, then, suggests that Old Millennials are those who had their childhood in the 90s and still lived part of their life without the internet. However, when smartphones and social networks emerged, they were already adults. As characteristics, they tend to be more optimistic, collaborative and flexible.
Young Millennials, on the other hand, were children (or already teenagers) in the 2000s. They were born connected to the internet and, in childhood, have already adopted the mobile culture. However, they knew a world in recession and, therefore, they tend to be more realistic, questioning and financially conscious.
Although millennials have gained a lot of attention in recent years, it is the Generation Z (or just GenZ) that is motivating more studies for marketing today. You may not have noticed, but Generation Y is already getting older, and marketing needs to get to know the young people coming into the market better and dictating how brands should behave.
Born between 1995 and 2010, currently with 10 to 25 years, Generation Z was born in a connected world and grew up with a cell phone in hand – that’s why they are also called “digital natives”. For them, there is no division between online and offline, as they are connected at all times, everywhere.
For GenZ, there is no time to waste. They are extremely agile, multitasking and able to absorb a lot of information – after all, they live in the era of big data, the explosion of data and need to know how to deal with it.
If Generation Y is already concerned with environmental and social issues, Generation Z goes further and turns concern into activism.
According to a Think With Google survey, 85% of Generation Z youth said they were willing to donate part of their time to some cause. And a study by Box 1824 showed that 63% of Generation Z defends any cause related to people’s identity (gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation, for example).
Through the internet, then, they can express themselves freely and expose their opinions on important topics, either through “text”, either through images or short, direct tweets. Minorities, in particular, become central themes in movements against homophobia, racism, sexism, xenophobia, among others.
Thus, they are able to garner followers who share the same thoughts, create networks of activism and even mobilize movements that leave the screens and occupy the streets.
In London, this generation is born at a time of prosperity, economic growth and the search for social justice. However, in his adolescence, he is already going through the political and economic crisis after the 2014 presidential elections. It is these adolescents who engage in movements of opposition to the government – either to one side or to the other – and engage politically.
Therefore, they develop a strong critical sense, which becomes striking in their identity. It is with this criticality that they see the crisis in London, face the economic recession and seek answers to improve the situation in the country, without shirking their responsibility.
Still, insecurity about the future is a hallmark of this generation. Therefore, they are more pragmatic and realistic than the previous generation. They care about money and understand that even if they don’t have a dream job, a formal contract is a path to financial stability.
It is also critical that they look at the power of the internet and social networks. Although they are powerful tools for activism and mobilization, they can also be tricky in promoting an illusory lifestyle and affecting mental health, which generates many cases of anxiety, depression and even suicide.
Besides that, this generation has a very fluid identity. Don’t try to define them or put them in boxes – they are what they want to be, in that moment, in that context. They are even more plural and dynamic than Generation Y and, therefore, diversity and inclusion are concepts intrinsic to their identity and their conception of society.
Studies on Generation Z aimed at the consumer market also generated a video of Box 1824. Check out an overview of this generation below:
If Generation Z is the ball, Alpha Generation is the first in line in the sights of marketing. Born in 2010, the members of this generation have about 10 years today and have not yet entered the consumer market. In fact, they shouldn’t even be targeted by marketing to children, which is restricted worldwide.
But that does not mean that marketing should ignore this audience that is about to enter its target. After all, the work meetings are already addressing planning for the coming years. And companies must know who the consumers will be in the near future.
However, there are not many studies on the Alpha Generation yet. It is known that they are already born in a period of economic recession in London and grow up in a time of polarity and extremism. But there is no way to predict the future and the effect it will have on your behavior.
As for the media, children of the Alpha Generation naturally relate to cell phones and the internet. However, what will mark this generation is its relationship with artificial intelligence. In this way, technology becomes even more integrated into your life, even your own body.
In an interview with Grupo Padrão, Fernanda Furia, a master in child and adolescent psychology, says that Geração Alpha will be the protagonist of the beginning of a affective relationship between human beings and machines.
These children receive so many stimuli, but they deal with it from such an early age that they are likely to be better prepared for the changes that are coming – or that they themselves will bring about. After all, the power of militancy, contestation and mobilization of the previous generation tends to continue.
Raised by Generation Y or even Z, children of Generation Alpha tend to be even more free in relation to their identity. Girls no longer grow up in a pink world, which tends to make them increasingly protagonists, in positions of power. Gender and sexual orientation are unlikely to be tied up, just as the right to difference will be an even stronger cause.
But for now, we are still at the base of the assumptions. Only a few years from now we will know how these children will behave as young citizens and consumers.
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How brands must act to reach new generations
Different generations use different languages, channels and content. Therefore, as much as the “young people” seem to be a single group, it is necessary to use a specific communication for each generation in which they are divided: the millennials (Y), Z and Alpha generations.
From Generation Y onwards, one can already see a concern of young people with sustainability, diversity and engagement. Therefore, the brands they relate to should also be concerned with this. Business ethics is an important factor for decision-making in consumer relations.
In addition, this is the generation that saw the internet born: in his childhood, he started using smartphones. Therefore, digital and mobile culture is part of your life.
For many companies, however, this era has not yet arrived. There are many brands that do not yet have a responsive website, for example. Even fewer are companies that produce content focused on mobile consumption, such as the production of mobile videos. This is not the way, therefore, that they will be able to connect with millennials.
In addition to adapting to the technologies they use, marketing also needs to understand what types of content they like to consume. It is true that traditional advertising has almost no space, since it is interruptive and often irrelevant.
What Generation Y wants is entertainment content that will relieve their anxiety; teaching content that helps to learn and gets to the point; or inspirational content that helps to make dreams and projects come true. In addition, they want to get involved with brands: it’s not enough to post a post on social media, you need to listen, understand, give a voice and interact with millennials to earn your trust.
GoPro is an example of a brand that manages to put millennials at the center of their communication. See, for example, how it values interaction with users when publishing the content they produce with your product on your own page:
If many companies are unable to talk to millennials because they have not adapted to the technologies and channels they use, what about communication with Generation Z.
This generation never knew what life is like without internet and smartphones! If they were born with a cell phone in their hand, how will they relate to brands that think only on the desktop?
Therefore, the concept of mobility must be rooted in the strategies of companies that want to communicate with GenZ. More than that, they need to think about the integration between all media, without the user noticing breaks in communication. In this sense, omnichannel is essential to provide the best experience.
Furthermore, speaking to Generation Z, it is useless to make empty speeches about sustainability or social responsibility. It is useless, for example, to say that you are against racism, but not to hire black employees or not to have them in leadership positions.
This generation wants to see real commitments, wants brands that position themselves, especially in favor of minorities and human rights, and that have coherent positions in all their processes.
For this generation, it is also important to think about the power of digital influencers. The logic of Generation Z idols is not the same as that of celebrities from years ago. They need to be close to the fans, speak their language, be transparent. Brands that work with influencers need to understand this: authenticity is the watchword in influencing marketing strategies.
Although many brands have not yet realized the importance of positioning themselves (or have not yet had the courage to do so), there are plenty of examples of those who have already understood the message of Generation Z. Doritos, for example, which seeks to approach young people , launched a special edition of the product whose profit was intended for NGOs that support the LGBT cause.
In addition to millennials and Z generations, brands need to be aware of the Alpha Generation. It is a generation that will relate to technology in a natural way, but more and more immersive and interactive.
If brands want to communicate with this audience in the future, they already need to better understand artificial intelligence, machine learning and how these technologies can help create increasingly efficient, useful and personalized solutions.
As we said, millennials and Z generations are often the focus of marketing, but older people cannot be left out. According to the IBGE, London has more than 30 million elderly people, and the trend of an aging population continues.
People aged 60 and over represent the richest generation in history – after all, they had to rebuild countries torn apart by wars. In the ride of the Baby Boomers, is Generation X, between 40 and 60 years old, who also concentrates wealth and has a high consumption power.
Therefore, brands looking for good opportunities need to pay attention to communication with these groups, which are very much alive in the market, looking for new experiences and aging much more actively than previous generations.
To conclude: from the end of the 20th century, what we see is an acceleration of history. The pace of change has become frantic!
With that, what made sense ten years ago no longer serves. And, with that too, the interval from one generation to another becomes faster, because the world doesn’t change every century – the transformations happen every year, making new patterns of behavior emerge.
Will we reach the moment when the interval of a generation will be only 10 years, 5 years or even a year? We don’t know, but it is certain that marketing will be keeping an eye on this phenomenon to accompany the generations that come around!
Currently, it is the millennials, Z and Alpha generations that are dictating the market and that marketing needs to keep up with. But soon a new group appears, ready to revolutionize the way of thinking of brands!
Now, take the time to read our full article on Marketing 4.0, which talks about the phases of marketing and how they followed changes in consumer behavior.