5 key trends: How to communicate with different generations and what is important for each of them?

Gen Z is one of the most controversial generations that marketers and communicators have many questions about. What are they like? What is important to them? How will they behave in any given situation? And what are the differences between them and other generations? Let’s find out.

Trend 1: Different purposes of social media consumption

Across all regions of the world, representatives of generation Z spend more time on social media than other generations – an average of 2 hours 51 minutes daily. Although they are unlikely to relinquish their lead positions, many are looking to reduce their time online and spend more time in the “real world”.
This year, members of generation Z are 30% more concerned about how much time they spend on social media, and these feelings are influencing actual behavior: generation Z is the only one generation whose daily time spent on social media has decreased compared to the first quarter of 2021.
Since 2021, the number of 12–15-year-olds chatting online with friends at weekends has fallen by 13%, while the number of face-to-face interactions with friends has increased by 28%. Content has always been ‘something to talk about’, but perhaps the modern ‘network effect’ of platforms has more to do with having common topics of conversation in real life.

So, what do different generations look for in social media? The older a person is, the more they expect to interact with friends and family on social media: 46% among Gen Z, 49% among Millennials, 55% among Gen X, and 60% among baby boomers. Makes sense, as face-to-face meetings become more problematic as we age due to the high pace of life. But among Gen Z, there are more of those who “kill” their free time on social networks, looking for different content (shows, articles, memes, etc.), following current topics, looking for inspiration and studying Influencers and celebrities.
The older a person is, the more he or she is inclined to look for current news on social networks (41% among baby boomers and 31% among generation Z). However, among young people there are more and more of those who get news from social networks – that is, they do not open a news app or website, but consume content from social networks, and now there are more of them than those who use websites/apps directly to keep up with the news. It is noteworthy that the share of those who use TikTok to find out the news has grown by a whopping 41% over the past two years.
Incidentally, Millennials are more inclined to work networking and exploring professional issues on social media than other generations, engaging in various discussions, as well as researching products that make sense to buy and keeping up to date with news from their favorite brands.

Trend 2: Information overload and loss of trust

Against the backdrop of excessive social media consumption, it is extremely difficult to attract the attention of Gen Z. In addition, there is a loss of faith in the people, places and spaces that have traditionally been authoritative – and this is also the case among Millennials. In other words, earning trust is extremely difficult.
Hence, a few recommendations for brands:
– If your experience is perfectly tailored to them, members of the MZ generations will perceive this as compatibility between your brand and their personality, and you will succeed in achieving your communication goals.
– Either filter messages and content for them or give them the tools to do it on their own. One of the biggest “sins” is to post the same content on every social network. Consider the specifics of each social network and tailor your content to it!
Notably, 69% of Generation Z are early adopters of technology: they are motivated by novelty, involved in research and new products. Over half (59%) consider themselves trendsetters and 50% live with their parents, influencing their purchasing decisions, so their influence is even greater than it might seem at first glance.
On the one hand, the pursuit of novelty is an advantage for brands, as they are always willing to try a new product. However, it has a significant downside: the younger generation is not very brand loyal: 41% of Generation Z consumers are impulse buyers, compared to 34% of Millennials.

Trend 3: Content in video and audio format is a king, duration is not so crucial

Another thing that gets audience attention is short-term content. This is a key trend, but what’s notable now is that it doesn’t affect the demand for longer content. While 45% of consumers use TikTok, meaning they consume short videos, 67% willingly watch YouTube. Not only that, Instagram Live can last up to four hours, and videos are getting longer too. The bottom line is that it’s useful to vary the length of content.
For viewers, the rise of short videos means it’s now easier for them to absorb more information on the go – whether it’s news, reviews or just entertainment. It’s good news for brands too, as it’s estimated that social video generates 1,200% more reactions than text and image combined and is shared 52% more often than content of any other format. It also allows brands to bring more personality and experimentation to their content.
What there is no doubt about is that video is now and will be the king of content for a long time to come. It is predicted that one user will watch an average of 17 hours of video per week this year.
Younger people are more likely to say they trust online reviews, perhaps because they are more likely to search for products on vlogs, microblogs and video sites and rely less on traditional search tools. Visual results can be very compelling because they show real people and their opinions, which does wonders in the world of e-commerce.
A very important point: consumers used to look at different websites, search for reviews, study YouTube videos and even, oddly enough, adverts to find out more about a product. Now they rely more on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok (78%).

Trend 4: Is Facebook dead?

Members of absolutely every generation actively use Facebook. Among Gen Z, activity is slightly lower, but still the vast majority use Facebook at least once a week. The same applies to Instagram, Messenger and Whatsapp, but TikTok and Twitter are much weaker.
Marketers have FOMO (fear of missing out): sometimes, looking at research data, panic begins because it’s not clear which social network to use. The good news is that social media audiences overlap – they are not unique, and with a limited budget, you can reach your audience without being on every social network.
The second important question is: what to communicate about? We have already learnt that different generations have slightly different expectations and interests, which are important to consider when creating content.
– On TikTok, 62% of users are looking for funny and entertaining content, 26% are looking for information about products and brands
– On Instagram – 66% are looking for entertaining and funny content and 58% are looking for information about brands and products
– On Facebook – the focus on connecting with family and friends (69%) is hard to get through, 61% share videos, photos and posts and 53% seek to “stay connected to the world”.
Social media is also increasingly used as a source of inspiration. As of Q1 2019, finding new ideas or inspiration has moved from 9th to 6th place among reasons for using the internet, overtaking product searches.

Trend 5: “Call me Influencer or not, but I have influence.”

Younger generations want to identify with the influencers they follow: 56% of Gen Z or Millennials said they follow bloggers who have the same beliefs or values as them. Meanwhile, one in three Generation Z and Millennials (33% each, respectively) trust a blogger very much or completely. 50% and 47% respectively trust, although they tend to look critically at the content and advertising they publish.
As baby boomers are more skeptical of influencers’ recommendations, building trust is vital. Older consumers often feel underrepresented in advertising. However, by engaging older influencers and showcasing different types of figures, brands can not only appeal to older consumers, but also cater to younger generations, such as Generation Z, who value authenticity and inclusivity. This approach bridges the generation gap and creates a sense of connection and relatedness.
Is there a true effect of advertising on blogs? Unequivocally:
– 52% of Generation Z indicate that blogger ads are much more engaging than regular ads. Among Millennials, 49% give the same response, while 39% of Gen X responded the same way. 37% of Gen Z and 36% of Millennials believe that bloggers’ ads are more credible than regular ads, and another 37% and 40%, respectively, believe that bloggers are knowledgeable in the field they are advertising.
– Millennials and Generation Z are 45% each willing to purchase products recommended by Influencers, and 33% of Generation X.
– Contrary to expectations, the presence of advertising does not negatively affect subscribers’ willingness to follow a blogger: 44% of Generation Z and Millennials each follow Influencers who regularly advertise certain products. 30% of generation X behave the same way.

The article is written in collaboration with Publicis Groupe Latvia PR or communication agency MSL Baltics