Breaking Down Generational Barriers

June 26th, 2018 Posted by Uncategorized 0 comments on “Breaking Down Generational Barriers”

As a member of the strategy team at The T1 Agency, I often find myself immersed in the life of a new consumer in an effort to understand their habits and behaviours. By understanding the consumer’s core tensions in their life, we are able to create brand experiences that effectively reach the target audience in an innovative and engaging way. 

While there are many ways to define a target market, age brackets are almost always included. Generations have been thrown around like marketing buzzwords, but we rarely think about how they are defined

There are many definitions of where a generation starts and begins – which is part of the problem. For the purpose of this blog, I will be using the age chart outlined below by Millennial Marketing:

Generational ChartI was born in 1995; therefore I fall right on the cusp of being a Millennial and a Gen Z. While I try to convince my older coworkers that I am a Millennial by understanding their nineties movie references, I enjoy having the ability to belong to both generational groups. But why do I have to be placed in one group or the other? As a marketer, it is critical to understand the unique nuances between generations, but also to go beyond the stereotypes to understand your target consumers values and behaviours.


Over the past eight months, I have learned a lot about the complexities of the millennial age group. Almost every brief I have received has required me to do the ever-so-daunting task of understanding this segment.

I am sure many of you are imagining a social-media obsessed, Osheaga-loving, 20-something-year-old. But as time passes, millenials are getting older and they are not the same people they were 10 years ago. Millennials range from 22-39 years old where 58% are married, 59% have children, and 58% own their homes.[1]But how can a 38-year old with three kids living in the suburbs be grouped with a 22-year-old traveling the world and living paycheck to paycheck?

When you split this age group down the middle between older millennials (born 1979-1986) and younger millennials (born 1987-1995), the values and life stages of these individuals change dramatically. For older millennials, 73% are married compared to 32% of younger millennials.[2] With married millennials, 46% are making a personal income of less than $35,000 compared to 68% of single millennials.[3]

By narrowing the age bracket, we are able to gain much more in-depth insights that allow marketers to understand their consumer more accurately.

Gen Z
GenZ Protestors

So what makes Gen Z different than a millennial? Gen Z ranges from age 8 to 21. As expected, 94% are single, 80% are still in school, and 41% are in high school.[4]

Gen Z definitely caught everyone’s attention when they organized a walk out after several school shootings occurred in the US. This group has never lived in a time without international conflict, therefore they are much more risk averse than any other generation. They are ambitious and want to make a positive difference in the world, but will not tread lightly.

Millennials witnessed the rise of technology and social media, Gen Z was born into it. They are digital natives and technology is central to their life. In a world where Amazon is able to deliver something to your door within 24 hours, their need for instant gratification is higher than ever and so are their expectations for brands. As a marketer, it is important to look beyond the age range of your target and take their ambition, desire for change, and need for instant gratification into account.

While it may seem that Gen Z emerged over night, this is not the case. Marketers should be prepared for new generations and be aware of the worldly events that will shape who they become. In the meantime, while Gen Z takes the world by storm, you may as well start planning out your marketing strategies for Generation Alpha.

Caught in the Middle
As a 22-year-old caught between the millennial and Gen Z generations: I choose neither. I shouldn’t be grouped in the same demographic category as someone with a mortgage and a child, the same way I shouldn’t be lumped in with someone graduating middle school. Each individual has unique qualities, values, and hobbies at different stages of life.

As a marketer, I encourage you to broaden your target market definition beyond generational categorizations. Whether it be universal values, income bracket, stage of life, or even just a more narrow, specific age, this more inclusive understanding will provide better insights and allow you to reach the consumer more effectively.


[1] Vividata 2017 Q3 Readership and Product Database
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.

Alex Singleton, Strategy Coordinator

Written by Alex Singleton, Strategy Coordinator