Generations X, Y and Z - what really makes your customers tick?

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Generations are an aid, a tool with whose information you can better understand your customers. Because of course, in reality, the lines are not as strictly drawn as the dividing lines between Generation X, Y and Z would have us believe. Away from stereotypical thinking, marketers can learn a lot from the Learning to distinguish between generations and get a clearer picture of who even belongs to their Target group belongs. That's exactly why it's worth finding the right generation.

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How do generations X, Y and Z differ on paper?

First of all, you should know the clear definition of the different generations, although there are of course some controversial points here.
If we categorize the three "younger" generations, we draw the lines as follows:

  • Generation X: born between 1966-1980
  • Generation Y (Millennials): born between 1981-1995
  • Generation Z (currently often called Zoomer): born between 1996-2012
Generations X,Y and Z were shaped differently and have different needs.
Generations have been shaped differently and have different needs. (Image:

All of these groups can be part of your target audience and don't have to be mutually exclusive. A larger Online Shop must address different target groups with different products and this is done in different ways.
In doing so, it is important that we Do not understand birth years as absolute truthIn practice, the boundaries here are much more fluid than the annual figures imply.
But if we look at media usage, targeting, and appeal, it becomes much clearer why it's so smart to use generations as a shortcut to your customers' habits.

This is how Generation X, Y and Z traverse the media landscape

While each age group has the same opportunities to be addressed, they will not take advantage of them to the same degree. This has something to do, above all, with our Digital socialization to do. Anyone who grew up with e-mail as a communication medium has a different relationship to Newsletters than younger customers who listen primarily to the word of influencers on social media.

Digital socialization is a factor in different marketing efforts.
Digital socialization is a factor in different marketing efforts. (Image:

Generation X - the older generation of online users

Generation X is also online and navigates websites with ease, even from mobile devices. To assume that even older Gen X'ers can't be reached online is an absolute fallacy. While the 50+ generation often needs the help of their children or prefers classic devices like the laptop, they are also available for online advertising.

Telephone and Email marketing are particularly precise tools for reaching the users of this generation. You should also keep in mind that Generation X is already firmly in their professional lives.

Good service and a functioning overall package are more important here than the lowest price. Loyalty and long-term brand loyalty should be the focus here.

Generation Y - Millennials as the first true digital natives

For millennials, the use of digital media is somewhat different from that of Gen X. They primarily use mobile devices, while laptops and computers are used for work or gaming.
If you want to reach Gen Y, you need to, just like Google, Mobile First THINK. Millennials have a strong presence on social media, especially Instagram is the sweet spot for Generation Y.

This also shows its effects when it comes to communication, because due to the focus on social media, millennials are also a High degree of individualization used to. If the approach here is not right and the marketing becomes too impersonal, this quickly has a deterrent effect.

For Generation Y, the User experience fast and seamless nothing must stand in the way of entertainment and quick satisfaction of customer needs.
In addition, millennials need to picked up at different touchpoints to accommodate their usage habits of switching between tablet, smartphone or work PC.

Generation Z - social media and brands as equals

From a marketing perspective, the biggest difference between Generation X, Y, and Z is in the Use of social media represent. Zoomers are a special case here: For many of them, it's no longer social media first, but social media only.
TikTok, YouTube and Instagram are used as search engine and browser. The redirection to the real browser seems almost old-fashioned here and is only a potential drop-off point.

This also means that the sales funnel must be worked towards social media. If posts from influencers don't lead to the store via a click, that's already too much of a detour. Remember: Generation Z is familiar with a seamless online experience grown up and is not satisfied with anything less.

Gen Z uses multiple social media channels, and they use them very time-intensively.
Gen Z uses multiple social media channels, and they use them very time-intensively. (Image:

To make a difference here, you need to be able to compete with the user experience of Apple or Amazon. Influencers are also listened to, because the sometimes more and sometimes less familiar faces are constant companions to their users.

Communication here must be fast and to the point - so use messenger marketing rather than e-mails. Especially since e-mails are hardly part of everyday life for Generation Z users.

Generations are a guideline, not a science

As you can already see from our division into generations and their habits, these are not clearly defined divisions, but rather rough measures. Because not only are the differences between Generation X, Y and Z not that significant in practice, but also the Intragenerational variance should not be underestimated. This means that there are also strongly differing characteristics within the generations.

Because whether Gen X'ers were born in 1966 or 1980 makes a huge difference. A large part of Generation Z is not even of the age to be able to sign purchase contracts independently and will still develop further in terms of media use. And they may even do so with devices that are considered curiosities today, such as VR glasses.

Brand Analysis Template: The Foundation for Your Digital Marketing Strategy - Download Template

So does the distinction between Generation X, Y and Z belong in the digital wastebasket? You shouldn't be that strict either, because the quick overview definitely has its advantages. Knowing which age group you are targeting and how to reach them is always a plus.

If you develop target groups across generations, you should also have a critical awareness of the limits of the generational definition.

Fortunately, there are many more tools at your disposal to customize your online marketing to meet the needs of your customers.


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