Is Gen Z different from Millennials?

7 Feb, 2019

Over at least the last half decade, hospitality marketers have been falling over themselves trying to target so-called Millennials (those born between 1980 and about 1995).

Hotel chains large and small have launched brands designed to appeal to this demographic segment. Some examples include: Marriott’s Moxy flag, the chain’s first branding concept created outside the US; Hilton’s Tru, billed as  “very minimalist and modern, with a young, social vibe”; or Hyatt Centric, which features co-working spaces and open-concept lounges that encourage socialising.

Regarding these Millennial-focused concepts, generally observed trends are smaller guestrooms and more emphasis on creating convivial common areas.

What about Gen Z?

Now what can be said of the even younger cohort behind the Millennials, who are known as Generation Z (those born roughly between 1995 and 2010)? Are they the same as their older brethren or are they distinctly different? From all evidence there are some notable differences between the two cohorts, while, at the same time, Gen Z exhibits some Millennial-associated characteristics – only to a greater degree.

First, some background: most Millenials grew up in more economically secure (pre-Lehman Brothers bankruptcy) times; meanwhile, Gen Z have been exposed to more financial insecurity during their childhood years as they observed their parents struggle through the recessionary period of 8 to 10 years ago. Consequently, Gen Z individuals are more sceptical about accumulating debts for university education than Millennials have been. It is now predicted that more teens, between the ages of 16 and 18 will go straight into the workforce, opting out of the traditional route of higher education, and instead finishing secondary school online, if at all. In fact, the number of students in post-secondary education in the US already peaked in 2010 and has been declining since. Furthermore, marketers have noticed that the Gen Z cohort isn't as brand-conscious as Millennials, and they're also much more frugal.

In addition, Gen Zer’s are seen to be more entrepreneurial.

According to Gen Z marketing strategist, Deep Patel, “the newly developing high tech and highly networked world has resulted in an entire generation thinking and acting more entrepreneurially.”

Generation Z seeks out more independent work environments and 72% of teens say they want to start a business someday.

Gen Z has never known an ‘unconnected’ existence

Whereas most Millennials can remember what life was like before smart phones and Facebook, which only became prominent around 2008, and probably also experienced ‘dial-up’ internet, floppy disks and cassette players, Gen Z was practically born with an iphone in their hands. Thus, they are even more avid followers of social media than Millennials.  Indeed, according to Expedia’s recently published study, entitled, “A Look Ahead: How Younger Generations Are Shaping the Future of Travel”, 84% of Gen Z individuals attest to being influenced by social media, as opposed to only 77% of Millennials.

Concerning the use of smart phones in relation to travel, it can be seen that Gen Z makes more use of smart phones than Millennials except when it comes to the actual booking process.

Figure 1: Use of smart phones in relation to travel, Gen Z vs Millennials, 2018

 

Use of smart phone

Gen Z

Millennials

 

 

 

Inspiration

68%

61%

Research

46%

45%

Booking

32%

33%

In-Trip

79%

75%

Source: Expedia Group Media Solutions

Gen Z’s travel behaviour

Already Gen Z is taking almost as many trips as Millennials and they are taking more long vacations, according to the Expedia study, which notes that 77% of Gen Z are “open to destination inspiration”, as opposed to 74% of Millennials. As can be seen in the table below, Gen Z appear to spend proportionately less on accommodation than Millennials, but more on transportation, shopping and attractions.

Figure 2: Travel spending allocation (in %), 2018

Type of expense

Gen Z (%)

Millennial (%)

 

 

 

Hotel

22.5

25.6

Flight

20.2

19.8

Food

16.4

16.2

Transportation

11.4

10.3

Shopping

11.1

10.5

Attractions

11.0

10.6

Source: Expedia Group Media Solutions

Another key finding: Gen Z are drawn to experiences – especially by beaches, with 65% of Gen Z attracted to this type of destination, as opposed to only 54% of Millennials.

 

Gen Z like ‘bleisure’

‘Bleisure’ trips, as the neologism would imply, combine business and leisure activities. Gen Z seems particularly attracted by bleisure, as 66% will indulge, if given the chance, as opposed to 61% of Millennials, according to the Expedia study. In fact only the oldest segment of Gen Z is likely to be taking business trips at the present time. Also, they probably have less family or relationship

commitments than the older Millennial cohort, which could explain some of the difference in affinity for bleisure. In any case, Gen Z bleisure trips tend to be longer at 8.2 days (including 3.2 for leisure) than those of Millennials which average 6.9 days (including 3.0 days of leisure), according to the Expedia study.

 

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