illennials are those who can both quote Vines and list the latest TikTok trends from memory. They grew up hearing about MySpace but rushed to sign up for Facebook once it became mainstream. The coolest Zillennials had an iPod Nano and later had phones with full keyboards. Instead of downloading apps, they bought games for their Gameboy Advance or Nintendo DS. They’re sometimes called cuspers but we’d say “Zillennial” sounds much cooler (and as a Zillennial myself, I’d agree).
And here’s what a few Twitter users had to say about being a Zillennial.
Defined by Urban Dictionary as a micro-generation between Millennials and Generation Z born between 1992 and 1998 (or by this Twitter user as from 1995-2000), Zillennials make up an important but underreported and often overlooked sector of the population. Under the first definition, this puts the oldest Zillennial at 28 and the youngest at 22, making up a little less than 20% of the country’s population, according to U.S. Census data.
So why should marketers care?
As nostalgia-rooted campaigns are some of the most effective ways to reach a target audience, figuring out what exactly Zillennials finds nostalgic is imperative as their childhood experience is a weird mix of their Gen Z and Millennial counterparts. It’s also important to understand what they care about and where they are in life to create content that speaks to them specifically.
While Millennials grew up as digital adopters and Gen Zers grew up as digital natives, Zillennials fall somewhere in between, having a mix of ’90s and 2000s experiences. Some grew up with a home computer and dial-up internet; others entered into adolescence with iPods and other touch screen devices. This micro-generation also had a mix of pop culture influences, from the music they listened to, to the shows they watched, to the foods they ate.
This article will delve into the nuances that set Zillennials apart from their peers and help you understand what makes them tick so you can create thoughtful campaigns.
What Events Did Zillennials Experience?
Sometimes it’s easiest to understand a generation by the world events that have played a large role in their lives and influence their decisions today. Here are a few global and tech-related milestones that most Zillennials experienced.
- While Zillennials were all alive during 9/11, most of them were too young to remember it.
- Apple released the first iPhone in 2007 and would roll out smaller but smarter tech as Zillennials came of age.
- Zillennials had access to YouTube as the first creators started monetizing with the YouTube Partner Program launching in December 2007.
- The 2008 Recession: Unlike Millennials, members of this generation weren’t entering the job market quite yet but that doesn’t mean they weren’t impacted.
- The coronavirus pandemic: A large number of Zillennials — those largely born in 1997 and 1998 — graduated college during the height of lockdown measures around the world in 2020 and soon entered the worst job market in over a decade, with the overall unemployment rate in the U.S. at 11.1% (and 19.8% for those between the ages of 20-24) in June. A TIME magazine story said it best when the author wrote, “But graduating in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic will have enduring implications on the Class of 2020: for their memories, their earning power, and their view of what it means to have a functional society.”
What do Zillennials Care About?
Zillennials share many of the same characteristics their fellow generation counterparts boast. Finding where the two generations overlap is often a good indicator of the causes they care about and the brands they support.
They may not always be wearing scrunchies and hydro flasks, but Zillennials care deeply about the environment and sustainability-driven brands. Whereas 73% of Gen Z expect brands to become more sustainable, that number jumps even higher for Millennials to 78%, and Zillennials fall somewhere in between there. These young consumers are also willing to pay more for sustainable products.
What do Zillennials love to see? Brands that promote and actively pursue inclusivity.
For fashion brands, this not only means inclusive messaging across their social media platforms but putting those words into action through creating gender-neutral clothing lines and extending size offerings. Both of these actions speak to a large sector of the population who have often felt left out by brands’ adherence to outdated beauty standards and gender norms.
Equality and Equity
If Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation, many Zillennials also fall under that umbrella. According to data from the Pew Research Center, 48% of Gen Zers in the U.S. are non-white.
A December 2020 study by quantilope found that over 70% of both Gen Zers and Millennials want to see brands increase efforts surrounding representation through making diversity and inclusion a priority for them to address.
Zillennials also highly value brand transparency. According to a 2017 survey by Label Insight, 94% of Millennial respondents said they were likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency.
How Can Marketers Appeal to Zillennials?
So now that you know a bit more about who Zillennials are, you’re probably wondering how you can effectively target them. Here are three ways you can appeal to Zillennials and examples of brands that have already implemented these strategies.
Appeal to Their Unique Sense of Nostalgia
Much like their Millennial counterparts, Zillennials love a good throwback 90s trend. But while some of those tend to focus on the pop culture of the earlier part of the decade, this micro-generation will most likely relate to and appreciate callbacks to the latter part of the 90s and early 2000s.
Who’s Doing This Well? Morphe.
Morphe, a beauty brand known for its eyeshadow palettes and lip colors, released a Lisa Frank palette that had all of us Zillennials screaming. If you didn’t scan the aisles for the brightly colored folders, binders, and notebooks dotted with smiling animals inhabiting a muli0colored world, then you’re not a Zillennial.
Focus on Highlighting Zillennial’s Core Values
As we talked about above, Zillennials are all about sustainability, inclusivity, and equity. Brands that can launch campaigns centering around these values or work with influencers who reflect them can see success.
Who’s Doing This Well? Dove.
Dove has a history of shattering barriers and redefining beauty standards to be more inclusive, all while taking a stand for the environment. Beginning in 2014, Dove launched the Dove Self-Esteem Project to help young people “overcome body image issues and fulfill their potential by building positive body confidence and self-esteem.” It has also taken strides to promote inclusivity, and it recently made headlines for deciding to drop the word “normal” from its beauty products.
The brand, owned by Unilever, said it would stop altering the body shape, size, or skin color of its models as part of its Positive Beauty initiative, in a press release. As for sustainability measures, the brand is committed to reducing its carbon emissions and waste, as well as protect water. Dove has already pledged to make all its packaging reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.
The brand underscores this message through its Instagram feed — home to posts that support sustainability, speak out against racism, empower marginalized voices, and lead the conversation on important and timely topics.
Create Content Reflecting Where They Are in Life
As the youngest Zillennials are entering the workforce in a pandemic-influenced world and the oldest are getting settled into their careers, getting married, having children, and buying homes, it’s important to create content that speaks to their current life circumstances.
Who’s Doing This Well? IKEA.
Let’s face it, IKEA is a brand most early homeowners and recent college grads love. It just so happens that Zillennials are the generation that is most likely to be in this stage of life at the moment. With affordable yet durable furniture suitable for decorating a first home, IKEA delivers content on its Instagram feed that strikes the balance between aesthetically-pleasing room images and meme marketing.
This post hopped on the “How it started, how it’s going” trend last October to promote a popular bookshelf.
The brand also recently released a new IKEA Audio Catalog on Spotify, Audiobooks.com, and YouTube. Speaking to a moment when podcast listening is on the rise, especially among Millennials and Gen Z, the IKEA Audio Catalog presents short episodes on topics ranging from how to elevate your kitchen to decorating a small space on a budget. It also comes following the brand’s announcement last year that it was discontinuing its famous catalogs after 70 years.
Since Zillennials are such an underserved, yet important part of the economy, brands that can truly understand who they are and what they care about will be in a better position to create campaigns that resonate with them.