Here at Zogo, we toss around a lot of terms to refer to the next generation of consumers and credit union members: young adults, college students, millennials, gen Z. 

In a previous blog post, I wrote about the way that older generations often use the term”millennials” when they often just mean “twenty-somethings” — and with the oldest millennials nearing 40 this year, that seems a little confusing. Millennials and the youngest generation, commonly known as Gen Z, are two distinct groups. For financial institutions, it’s important to know the difference.

So… what is the difference, anyway? 

According to the Pew Research Center, Generation Z begins with anyone born in or after the year 1997. That would make the oldest members of this generation about twenty-three, meaning a significant number of Gen Zers will be launching their adult lives over the next five years. 

Millennials, on the other hand, are defined as any adults born between 1981 and 1996. 

There are other definitions floating around, of course, but the mid-90s divide seems to be a consensus. Here are some other observable differences between the two groups: 

  • While millennials saw the beginnings of digital innovations like the Internet, most Gen Zers have been immersed in them since childhood. And the pressures of some new technologies, such as social media, may be taking a toll — research shows that large numbers of Gen Zers struggle with anxiety.
  • Many millennials reached adulthood during or after the 2008 financial crisis but grew up during an economic boom. Gen Zers came of age during the great recession, and this likely shaped their view of money and finance. While millennials are still generally optimistic about finances and the future, many agree that Gen Z is more pragmatic when it comes to spending — and they’re opening savings accounts at younger ages. 
  • According to a report from Kasasa, a financial and technology services company, shaping events for millennials include The Great Recession, the technological explosion of the internet and social media, and 9/11. For Gen Z, it’s smartphones, social media, the financial struggles of their parents and never knowing a country not at war.

Since so many Gen Zers are still approaching adulthood, a lot of this generation’s characteristics are still to be determined. 

What is your financial institution doing to market itself to the next generation of consumers?