Culture and trends
min read

What in the Zillennial? A crash course in being born on the cusp

Published on
November 7, 2023
Last updated
January 23, 2024

What this article covers

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Let’s face it – none of us fit neatly into a category. And while generations can be useful to pinpoint mass cultural behaviours and phenomenons, there are a fair few people who fall on the cusp of generational boundaries.Introducing: Zillennials. Not quite Gen Z, not quite Millennial, this demographic have had their lives shaped by a number of important issues, and how they interact with brands and the wider world isn't quite straightforward.In this blog, we'll be asking who Zillennials really are, sharing what they're passionate about and looking at how they interact with the online world.

So, who are Zillennials?

First things first: they’re not quite as defined as Gen Zs and Millennials. That said, we can roughly place Zillennial birthdays sometime between 1993 and 1998. Many are already deep into the world of work, but they’ve still got one foot in the sarcastic, digital world of Gen Z. They can relate to both generations, without feeling fully immersed in either.You might be thinking, 'Does it really matter? Is a Zillennial really that different from a Gen Z – or a Millennial?'Quite simply, yes. This cohort has lived through some pretty unique experiences, and that shapes who they are, what they want and how they interact with brands.

Loving Couple Hugging And Kissing As They Relax At Home Together

What do we call Zillennials?

There are a lot of different ways to refer to Zillennials. You might hear them called 'cuspers', for example; a reference to their precarious position between Gen Z and Millennials. There are also other variations: Zennials, Zilennials, Zillennials, and more.Why so many terms? Well, Zillennials aren’t quite a ‘real’, defined generation. This means that you’ll see a lot of words bandied about to describe them – but all you really need to know is that they’re inbetweeners, caught between two major generations.

Not quite digital natives

There’s a good reason for this blurred boundary between two key generation cohorts – technology. As digital natives, Gen Zs have never known a world without the internet – but it’s not quite as simple as that. While the youngest Gen Zs are iPad literate and will likely receive a smartphone as their first mobile, the oldest Gen Zs – or Zillennials – remember Motorola flip phones and the alien tones of dial-up internet. These young people, too, have never known a world without the internet. But the internet of their childhood was gated, clunky –  limited to a few snatched minutes before their parents needed to use the landline.

In other words – Millennials gravitate to analogue, Gen Zs to digital, and Zillennials were around when the first accelerated into the second. They’re daily technology users, but they’ve got a degree of separation from it. They have one foot in the digital past, still remembering the button controls of their Gameboy Advance, but equally as agile when swiping through the latest mobile app game. And their social media presence was likely desktop-first – think Youtube, Facebook and Tumblr as opposed to TikTok and Instagram. P.S. Gen Zers today are influenced by their peers, and they want marketing to blend seamlessly into their social feeds. And our Student Beans Creators can help you with this! Get in touch today to find out more.

Pioneers of activism

Gen Zers are well-known for being vocal on a whole range of issues. Key themes of interest include LGBTQ+ issues, sustainability, mental health, and politics. And they don't react well to performance activism - from parents and peers to brands and leaders, they’re not afraid to call you out.It’s likely that this activism, in part, was supercharged by Zillennials. Their childhood was dominated by political and economic issues, such as 9/11 and the financial crisis of 2007/8. The fallout of these global events may or may not have directly affected them. But as social media brought world issues to their fingertips, they became the first of a new type of activist – one that uses online platforms as a springboard for change.

portrait of young person with green hair on their phone

Key takeaways

Ultimately, it's important to remember that blanket marketing doesn't work for any generation - not all Gen Zers are living their lives on TikTok, nor are all Millennials partial to some avocado toast. As marketers, you need to find your core community, get to know them and their interests, and invest energy in curating content that really, truly resonates with them.

Now you know Zillennials, it’s time to get to grips with their younger siblings. Sign up to our Weekly Briefing for Gen Z trends, delivered straight to your inbox.

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