Millennials & Centennials….what’s the difference?
If you’ve stumbled on this blog looking to sort out the differences between Millennials & Centennials, you’re in the right place.
What are they? Who are they? And what’s the big fuss about ’em?
It’s been crazy the past few years with all this talk about how to ‘Market to Millennials,’ and every company seems to be quite keen on getting them as employees, or marketing to them, but why?
In short, millennials have the collective buying power of about $317 billion dollars in the U.S. alone, and represent the most savvy, technologically advanced generation, ever. And that’s nothing to bat an eye about….but with so many people are looking to either hire, or get millennial customers, people may be looking past the next big wave…..the growing number of Centennials and coming of a new, more advanced tech generation than ever before.
But before we get there….let’s take a step back, to help build a bigger picture here. Millennials have been categorized as anyone having been born from 1980 to the year 2000. Typically, this age group spans three different decades, but have all been lopped into the categories of being idealistic, tech-savvy, and seeking more authentic experiences with a growing dollar amount, buying power and closer ties to the pendulum of the economy. Millennials also are breaking trends from their baby-boomer parents, such as being the most educated generation ever, accruing more debt, and wanting to work for organizations who cherish goals and objectives that benefit the greater good. Not to mention they have been marked as delaying thing like marriage, car and home purchases, as well.
It may be a sign of the times, but with as many idealistic and tech-savviness as millennials are, they’ve also been painted as being lazy, not good with money, yet very entrepreneurial-minded. And many people are beginning to ask the question….’Will the next generation follow suit?’
Here come the centennials….
The Futures Company has a great post on just who centennials are, but in case you’re looking for the short answer, they’re basically anyone born from 1997 on, and you guessed it, are set to have more buying power, be more tech-savvy, and divulge through content 25% faster than their millennial counterparts.
And everyone is talking about them….
Ad Age released an article in 2015 that hits the nail on the head very well, when referring to ‘Centennials,’ or Gen Z, as they’re now being called. You can find that article here:“Stung by Millennial Misses, Brands Retool for Gen Z.”
But the point is this….brands, companies, marketers and more are preparing for a more practical, better educated version of millennials and grandchildren of baby-boomers. How do you ask? Well, let’s look at brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, or Aeropostale, who are all taking a hit from millennial minded consumers who are pious in their quests for goods derived from ethical and fair trade sources.
To capture Gen Z and other consumers, brands are going to have to revolutionize the way they think and find a savvy, artsy way to envelope consumers from a young age. Think cigarette brands of the 30’s and 40’s. They never focused on the product itself, they always focused on the lifestyle of what they were selling. That’s why brands are beginning to focus on centennials, because they’re studying them…
Brands like Taco Bell, Target, DreamWorks Animation’s AwesomenessTV and more are putting forward tons of money and research on how to influence this $44 billion dollar a year Gen Z market. And it’s because they’re looking to test ways to interact, engage, and craft brand loyalists for decades to come.
Have they looked past millennials yet? No, not quite, but brands realize the empowered millennial mindset is driven by creativity, entrepreneurship and overall trend of millennials chasing experiential things over becoming product owners of anchor items like cars, houses, and other big life items.
So, are all brands in the advertising game figuring out how to get millennials and centennials to open our wallets? Not quite.
Anyway, let’s recap the two main differences of centennials and millennials via Wiki.
Millennial– According to Wikipedia, a millennial (also known as Gen Y) are the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates when the generation starts and ends, but researchers and commentators use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. Millennials are often up to date with new media tactics, and are shying away from the suburbs for more populated areas and searching often for quality over quantity in life, having children later and are focused on corporate responsibility. Have the buying power of roughly $317 billion a year.
(I fall into the above category, but often disagree with the vast generalizations of who millennials are and what they want).
Centennial– People who were born around the turn of the century. Mostly 13-18 year olds now. Dubbed ‘Generation Z’ these permit holding youths are practical and value-conscious, who relish experiences and use the enormous amount of information at their disposal to unearth unique stories. Could be labeled as ‘needing’ technology to get through daily life. Have a spending amount of roughly $44 billion a year.
Here’s a small infographic to help outline the differences.
So, why the major shift in why big brands are going after Gen Z? Let’s review.
Advertisers and marketers alike were caught off by the blistering pace at which technology set off new culture trends amidst ten years ago at the start of ‘Gen Y.’ AKA millennials. The same thing happened to Generation X when it was passed off on for ‘Millennials.’ The millennial age gap of 21-35 year olds are now being passed over to capitalize on the growing group of ‘centennials’ who are more likely privy to knowing the truth and smarter with new technologies, but may not have developed an opinion on how they view the world (or brands for that matter) yet.
Basically, there’s a cultural marketing shift in why brands are going after the younger generation, and it’s because they’ve unsuccessfully marketed themselves to a whole generation of millennials.
So, here they are, Generation Z, the 13-18 year-old age group primed to absorb thousands of ads, media and commercials as they descend down through their multiple screens. “Centennials” are in fact the new demographic target of advertisers and marketers alike.
My prediction is also that centennials will mimic after millennials frugalness and will notice their struggles of moving out their parents homes, finding work as well as moving into urban centers. But by being more savvy in the digital field, they will be fully captivated by brands and drawn to companies doing cool things (See Bud Light’s ‘Whatever, USA campaign). Centennials will also share much more content via social and even become ambassadors from a young age for big brands they like and identify closely with.
Maybe that’s why big companies are dumping struggling millennials for the potential of Generation Z. Have you noticed the anti-advertisements from advertisers themselves like Progessive Insurance ads clearly targeted to newly licensed drivers AKA ‘Centennials?’
Here it is to help you refresh:
Long story short, time will tell what centennials mainstream values are. Gen Z (centennials) for the most part don’t even have their licenses, yet, so it’s tough to say there are key traits we can dedicate to them. Milennials on the other hand, are over the bubble and have been systematically categorized….does that means every marketer will adjust their strategy? Maybe not. But time will tell, and it’s more relevant than ever before for brands, companies and marketers themselves to become idealistic, informative, genuine, and above all funny, if they want to keep their companies alive and on top.
Here at INPHANTRY we’ve noticed the rising tide towards centennials. For marketers and advertisers alike, I’d love to hear your thoughts on these emerging trends.