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Is There REALLY a Difference Between Your Millennial and Gen Z Members?

MemberClicks Avatar MemberClicks April 3, 2019
Table of Contents
4 min read

Gen Z and Millennials

For a long time, Millennials were the prime topic of conversation among association and chamber professionals. What benefits will appeal to them? How can we get them to engage – and stay engaged – with our organization?

Now, the talk has shifted to Generation Z…but with the same questions still applying. Is there a difference between the two generations? Or can organizations safely clump them into one big “young professionals” category?

Well as it turns out, there IS a difference, primarily in terms of preferences and values. Take a look:

Your Millennial members

Just as a reminder, Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1995. And like other generations, they have a few key characteristics in common:

  • They’re multitaskers. Rarely are Millennials ever focused on just one thing. They’re typically multi-tasking – and they’re really good at it!

  • They love technology. This one you already know. Millennials grew up with cell phones and computers, and they tend to have one (or both) nearby at all times.

  • They value flexibility. Overall, Millennials like to have a say in what they do and when. They value laid-back environments and the ability to choose.

So what does this mean for your organization? It means your approach to engagement should match those characteristics. For example, you may want to…

  • Create short, snackable content. Since Millennials are multitaskers, the shorter (and more scannable) you can make your content, the better. Think blog posts, infographics, social media posts, etc.

  • Stay active on social media. Speaking of social media, this is one of the best ways to engage your Millennial members. Find out which platforms they’re using – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. – and then engage with them accordingly. (Not sure which platforms they’re using? Talk to them at your next meeting or send them a quick survey.)

  • Allow flexibility. To engage your Millennial members, you must allow some flexibility. Allow them to engage with your organization on their own time. For example, if you host regular webinars, be sure to record those webinars and then host them in an area where your Millennial members – and all members, really – can access them (with ease) at a later date. (This is where a learning management system really comes in handy.)

Your Gen Z members

Ok, so how is Gen Z different? Well for starters, Gen Z-ers are those born between 1996 and 2015. The key characteristics they share are:

  • They’re uber tech-savvy. Gen Z is the most tech-savvy generation yet. While Millennials grew up in the world of cell phones, Gen Z grew up in the world of smartphones. They’ve always had a computer in their pocket, and they’re Internet experts, consequently.

  • They’re willing to work hard. Gen Z-ers grew up in the Great Recession. They watched their parents struggle with finances that were seemingly stable just months before. As a result, they worry about the economy and are willing to work hard for a living.

  • They want to have an impact on society. Overall, Gen Z-ers want to have an impact, both personally and professionally. They want to advance their careers and give back to society.

Knowing that, to successfully engage your Gen Z members, your approach and messaging may need to vary slightly. For example, you’d probably want to…

  • Take your tech game up a notch. Gen Z-ers do everything online – and we mean everything. That said, make sure your website and emails are mobile-friendly and that you’re staying active on social media.

  • Provide them with plenty of professional development opportunities. Since Gen Z-ers are looking to get ahead, this is the perfect opportunity for your association to engage with them. Provide them with plenty of professional development opportunities, such as accreditations, certifications, mentoring programs, etc.

  • Provide them with plenty of volunteer opportunities. Remember, Gen Z-ers care about more than just work — they want to give back to society. That said, be sure to provide them with plenty of volunteer opportunities (all with varying dates and times).

Now don’t get us wrong. As with all generations, there IS overlap between what your Millennial members like and want and what your Gen Z members like and want. For example, professional development may appeal (and probably does appeal) to members of both generations. But the difference is, as a whole, one generation tends to value it a little bit more than the other generation.

So yes, you’d still want to promote that benefit to ALL of your members, but you may want to consider launching a targeted email campaign promoting your various professional development opportunities to your Gen Z members. The more targeted you can get, the more likely that messaging is to resonate with your members, spurring a better response, and hopefully, more action!  

What about your other generations of members? Your Baby Boomers and your Gen X-ers? How are they different and how can you best engage with them? Check out our free guide, How to Engage Different Generations at Your Association, below!

Free Member Retention Guide

Ready to retain members and keep them coming back forever and ever? This guide will teach you everything you need to know about member retention. We cover all the basics, like the first steps to member retention and how to map out your member journey. From there, we dive a bit deeper into retention tips.