Can you tell your Lil Pump from your Lil Yachty? If you’re struggling, there may be even bigger challenges ahead. Never mind the insight you’ve collected about Babyboomers, Generation X and Millennials. There’s a new demographic in town. 

In a recent brief for our long-standing client Visa, this was exactly the challenge we faced. One that required us to target an unfamiliar demographic with a message that was both relevant and authentic. It gave us the opportunity to learn something new – and we’d be selfish not to share the insight.

Introducing Generation Z

Our brief from Visa was to create a campaign that would encourage Generation Z to use their Visa cards on holiday. Simple. After all, we’re well versed in crafting campaigns that seduce Millennials. Same thing, right?

Not at all. 

Try it for yourself…

Take the Gen Z Quiz

1. Generation Z are aged from __ to __ years?

2. How much of the world’s population are Generation Z?

a) 12% b) 25% c) 32% d) 39%

3. On average, they spend more time on their laptop than watching TV. (T/F)

4. They spend most time of all on their smartphone. (T/F)

5. They influence __% of household purchases…

a) 25% b) 50% c) 93%


  1. 4 to 24 2. C 3. F 4. T 5. C

Why Gen Z are different to Millennials

There are enough misconceptions and assumptions about Millennials as it is, without anyone adding them to what are in fact Generation Z. Here’s why you can’t repurpose one campaign for the other…

If we take Millennials as those born between 1981 and 1996 (now 23-38), we can see that there’s understandably a slight overlap. But there are also some huge differences…

Generation Z grew have never know a world without smartphones, mobile, fast internet, social media, contactless payments, online shopping and so on. Millennials pioneered adoption. 

Generation Z were born into a global financial crisis. They appreciate the value of a pound, and the needs to make ends meet. Those that are reaching student age know that they’re about to be charged more than ever before for their further education, which means they attack university with a professional, consumer-led strategy. 

Millennials grew up in the golden age of celebrities, even if they did catch the C-list end of the reality star era. Generation Z look towards online influencers for inspiration. In fact, 63% of Gen Z members prefer real people to celebrities when it comes to advertisements. 

Whilst Millennials dabbled with recycling and veganism, Generation Z’s life is dominated by environmental and sustainability concerns. Products that do their bit for the planet are held in high regard and Gen Z will pay a premium for the genuine ethically conscious brands. The age of rampant consumerism is over. You heard it here first. 

But Generation Z resemble Millennials in many ways too. Both have a survival mentality in pursuit of clear goals that they want to accomplish fast. They are hyper focused and competitive by necessity. They don’t have the time to spend years working up the corporate ladder, nor the finances to languish in low paid work waiting for a break. That’s why 44% of Gen Zers prefer to make money online as it offers more flexibility than a traditional job, and why 36% of Gen Zers aspire to be self-employed after leaving education.

How Gen Z Travel

Like Millennials, Gen Z look towards social media for inspiration when it comes to travel. But unlike their predecessors, they are not looking to integrate Instagram and Snapchat into their break to the same extent as Millennials. They’re not looking for the obligatory selfie in front of the Taj Mahal. 

They are, however, looking for immersive, experiential travel that allows them to experience a destination as a local. Gone are the days of ‘Maga 2K19 with the lads’, with most Gen Zers nowadays opting to travel to unique destinations and experience genuine culture. 

Yes, they want to unplug, tune out and relax, but given the opportunity they’re also willing to muck in and volunteer, particularly on environmental projects. 

How this influenced our brief

The greatest obstacle we had to face in persuading Gen Z to travel with Visa was parents who insist that their children take some ‘travel cash’. That’s because there’s no longer any logic behind it. In an emergency, for convenience, or as a means of budgeting, card trumps cash at every turn. But there’s a perception that travel=holiday cash. It’s part of the ritual. 

Our research identified that Generation Z were not necessarily looking for destinations on their travels, but experiences. Inevitably, some of those experiences present themselves at short notice. These are the off-menu rides, tours and excursions that aren’t in the guide book (the one that Gen Z, unlike their parents, are also not using). On a cash budget, our young travelers would have to make a choice between taking the opportunity and, potentially, paying for dinner or a taxi to the airport. With a card, they could do it now and not have to miss out because they were a few dollars short. 

Another one for the Visa hall of fame

From our campaign for Visa at Harrods, we took confidence that short and snappy rarely fails to strike a chord. Moreover, there’s nothing like a funny mascot. So we kept copy to the minimum, took the foot off the corporate messaging pedal, and put our concept in the capable claws of Vince, our Visa chameleon, who was primed by nature to adapt to each new location. 

From our record-breaking work on the Visa snapchat filter, we knew that anticipation of a holiday is as crucial as time spent in a hammock. That meant that it was vital to reach our audience while they were still excited about the holiday ahead. And, of course, before they’d stood in the queue at the local money exchange to take out their dreaded ‘holiday money’. 

Closing thoughts

The average age of marketers is 32. That means that most of us are crafting campaigns for a demographic outside our own, without the security of being able to draw on our own experiences. Because although we will probably have been between 4 and 24 at some point in our lives, we probably won’t have been Gen Z. It’s at times like these that the crucial piece of insight in the room comes from the work experience student, intern or graduate recruit. 

Want to see more?

Looking for some sparkling content that chimes with Gen Z (or anyone else for that matter)? You’re not done yet! Here’s some of our recent work:

The RNLI wanted to reach out to potential supporters through their partnership with Ford. We created a downloadable fundraising pack

For Father’s Day, we created a social media campaign to help get Dad’s in touch with their dark chocolate side.