Over the past few years it’s been all about Millennials. Companies and retailers wanted to know everything they could about the generation’s every move, behaviors, and the products they like, in the hopes of making them customers. However, the tides are changing. There is a new, younger generation catching the attention of businesses. Generation Z is on the cusp of outnumbering the Millennial generation, making them a very valuable group of consumers.

This generation, whose oldest members just graduated High School, has grown up tethered to technology. So how is it shaping their technology usage, and how do their behaviors compare to the behaviors of Millennials? Just as companies once wanted to know everything about Millennial consumers, some have already begun shifting gears and focusing much of their attention on Gen Z consumers. So we compared Millennial (18-34 year olds) and Generation Z (13-18 years old) consumers on a number of different technology habits in order to learn how the two generations differ from one another. (As a side note, check out what else we learned about the competing generations in our other Millennial and Gen Z installments: Gen Z is Already Changing the Landscape for Retailers and Gen Z Is All About Streaming.)

Here are a few of the top discoveries we uncovered in our latest installment:

Millennials bank more online and on mobile.

This may not be a huge surprise since many Gen Zers are just starting out. They may not even have their own bank accounts yet, or if they do, they may not have the need to do much banking. Over half of Millennials do more than 50% of their banking online, while only 15% of Gen Zers do more than 50% of their banking online. When it comes to mobile banking, 29% of Millennials do more than half of their banking on their phone, compared to only 10% of Gen Z consumers.

Millennials vs. Gen Z - Banking


Millennials are more likely to be blocking your online ads.

Ad blocking is a serious issue for both advertisers and websites, and it continues to proliferate. Millennials are actually 29% more likely to have ad blocking software on their mobile phone than Gen Zers. The younger generation may not care as much about advertising, but it’s too soon to know whether this generation will change their behaviors about ad blocking. To learn more about the ad blocking consumer and the types of sites and advertisers they affect more than others, check out our webinar on the topic: Profiling the Ad Blocking Consumer.

Gen Z watches more media via online streaming devices.

1/3 of Gen Zers stream more than 2 hours of TV or movie content via Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, etc. This compares to 27% of Millennials. Gen Z is growing up with content at their fingertips, so this behavior probably isn’t likely to change. Since this generation streams more content, they are probably more likely to be in the market for streaming devices and also streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu.

Gen Z is addicted to their digital devices.

After asking people “Would you call yourself addicted to your digital devices? (computer, smartphone, etc.),” we found Gen Zers are 25% more likely than Millennials to say they are addicted to their digital devices. A full 40% of Gen Z are self-identified digital device addicts. This generation grew up with technology, and for them it’s probably hard to go without their devices. This could really change the marketing and advertising landscapes. If this younger generation is constantly on their phones or devices and not watching as much live TV, we may experience a large shift in advertising methods and marketing messages.

Gen Z’s tech purchases are highly influenced by social media.

Gen Z consumers are more than 2X as likely as Millennial consumers to say social media influences their electronics purchases a lot. It’s important for consumer tech companies to have a strong presence on social media. Not only that, but it can also be very beneficial for tech companies to have their customers talking about their products and experiences on social sites. Curious what social media sites Gen Z spends the most time on? We found they gravitate towards visual and image-based social sites.

Gen Z is serious about gaming and virtual reality is on their mind.

28% of Generation Z is interested in purchasing a VR headset in order to enhance their gaming. This compares to only 19% of the Millennial population. Close to half (44%) of Gen Zers play video games daily, which is 42% more likely than Millennials. Because of their increased playing frequency, it isn’t surprising that they are interested in purchasing a VR headset. As we see more Gen Zers entering the workforce, we may see more VR headsets being purchased.

Millennials vs. Gen Z - gaming

Millennials are slightly more likely to own fitness trackers and smartwatches.

When comparing fitness tracker and smartwatch ownership and usage, Millennial consumers are slightly more likely (+25%) to own and use trackers and/or smartwatches than Gen Z consumers. However, this doesn’t mean Gen Zers aren’t interested in owning a wearable fitness tracker and a smartwatch. Gen Zers are 63% more likely to say they plan to purchase a smartwatch and they are 38% more likely to say they plan to purchase a wearable fitness tracker. It will be important for fitness tracker and smartwatch manufacturers to continue to evolve their products in order to keep the interest of Generation Z.

We know this growing generation is hooked to their digital devices and as their financial situation improves, it seems they will continue purchasing new technology and gadgets. However, this device addiction, shift in content consumption, and social media influence may pose a greater challenge to media companies, advertisers, and marketers. It’s important to understand Gen Z’s current behaviors and track their behaviors going forward.