Generations X, Y, Z: who they are and how to work with them


The theory of generations X, Y, Z reveals the peculiarities of their representatives – what time they were born (years of birth), what their worldview and basic character traits are, how to build communication with them. This information is especially important for those involved in marketing, sales, and personnel management.

In this article we will talk about the difference of generations, how to work with CA from one or another generation, and also how to behave correctly with subordinates or colleagues at work, relying on this knowledge.

What do generations X, Y, Z mean in marketing and why is it important?

In marketing it is important to understand how some generations differ from others in order to be able to communicate with their representatives. Otherwise, you simply won’t be able to sell them anything. For example, if you want to create a product for millennials or promote a service to Generation Z, you need to be able to communicate in their language. If you own a company, then knowing the theory of generations will help to create the best working conditions for employees so that they can work effectively.

Of course, everything is very individual, we are only touching on the commonalities that unite people of the same generation.

⚠Of importance: you can see a discrepancy in the generational date in different sources. What does this have to do with? It all depends on the geography and history of the state. Millennials in India are different from millennials in the United States.

For more accurate information, you need to study each specific region. Also the timeline is very subjective – the same person can combine features of several generations at once. So what is important here is not so much the date, but rather the collective experience and worldview by which one can classify people as belonging to this or that generation. Let’s look at each of them in detail.

What is Generation X

X parents survived the hardships of war or were born just after it ended. They gave little time and attention to their children. Because the X’s were left to themselves as children and young adults, they were used to being independent. The main tasks that generation X set for themselves were study, work, and family. As a rule, already before the age of 25 these people were married and had children. Early representatives of this generation are somewhat infantile, because they grew up in a time of relative stability and confidence in the future. They could count on getting housing and jobs, for the most part all they had to do was study well, follow the rules, and do their jobs well.

Their idols were the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Mirage, Boney M, Ozzy Osbourne, Baccara, Modern Talking, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, Queen, Freddie Mercury, Celentano, Abba, Ace Of Base, C.C.Catch, Elton John, Madonna.

Their slogan is “My home is my fortress.”

Years: 1960-1983 (+- 2-3 years)

Characteristics: They are ready for hard work, a long career path and individual success. Able to absorb a large volume of information. Are conservative in many aspects of life. They are not ready to work for the sake of the common cause, they do not believe in a “bright future” like their parents, they are interested in personal well-being.

Psychological peculiarities: These are people who seek stability and value their time and money. They are cautious, calculating, can think for a long time before making a decision and are calm about following prescribed rules.

Dreams and goals: Representatives of generation X, as a rule, chose one or two professions and improve in them throughout their life. They can pass the way from a turner to the head of the same company. Or from a simple manager to the head of a department. For them, the main thing is stability, the path they have taken, their status.

How to work with them

Customers: What to do if your CA is Generation X

X’s have survived commodity shortages, so they’re fixated on material things. They are receptive to advertising, trusting brands.

Such a CA is receptive to long texts in advertisements for goods and services, but they should have answers to the questions: “Why do I need it? What benefit will I get? How is your product better than others?” X’s prefer to shop in one place, they like hypermarkets. They can spend a long time comparing different products, analyzing and pondering before deciding to buy.

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How to attract the attention of X in advertising: for such CA you need to prove the superiority of your product over others, its uniqueness, the possibility of choice, reliability, durability, convenience and quality. Advertising for X often shows famous and authoritative people.

Channels for advertising: Television, radio, outdoor advertising, magazines, the Internet, personalized email newsletters.

Employees: What to do if your employees are Generation X

Generation X people have organizational skills. They can work autonomously, so they should not be pressured by constant reports and controls, it can demoralize them. People of this generation can be given complex tasks, they are able to start a project from scratch and bring it to result.

For them, you need to make a fixed work schedule without compromising their family life. They saw how their parents worked hard to advance their careers and how they didn’t have enough time for their children, so they don’t want that in their lives.

Management feedback and feedback on their work is important to Generation X – don’t leave them out and give them an opportunity to showcase their professional skills. Xs need to see the prospect of career advancement, and they’re great for mentoring and training millennials.

What’s Generation Y

These are people who have caught the rise of the Internet, the transition to a market economy, and technological advances. They are less dependent on government than Generation X and mostly rely solely on themselves. These people are careerists, they can no longer expect to receive housing from the state (with the exception of some professions and countries), so they must seek the benefits for themselves and their family. At the same time they are ready to try themselves in different professions. Among them there are more childphiles than generation X, because having a family is no longer one of their main goals in life.

Their idols are Eminem, 50-cent, Steve Jobs, Enrique Iglesias, Britney Spears, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Their slogan is “Life is a game.”

Years: 1983-2000 (+- 2-3 years)

Characteristics: Willing to work hard, including overtime, reaching for knowledge in different fields, while preferring the information “without water”, that is short, clear and to the point. They follow trends, are good at changes, are not afraid of novelty, and are on the “first-name basis” with technology. Depending on their upbringing and environment they can be in some ways conservative, like generation X, for example, in the question of family life. But at the same time they are more easygoing – they like to travel, change professions, like to learn new social networks and applications, try different hobbies.

Psychological characteristics: Flexible thinking, accelerated processing of information in comparison with generation X, desire for pleasure and spiritual growth, attention to appearance and health, impulsiveness in decision making (not always), expectation of changes.

Dreams and goals: Unwillingness to rise from the bottom like generation X and to spend their whole life on a career in one field. These are people who want results “here and now” and are focused on several professions. People of generation Y want to live for themselves and enjoy life, not just follow the program “institute-work-marriage-children-retirement”.

Features of the interaction

Clients: What to do if your target audience is Generation Y

Generation Y doesn’t like long texts. It’s important to hook such a target audience with product advertising from the first seconds. They may buy on emotion, but often still check the information and compare different offers. The global crisis and life in credits taught them to be more careful with their spending. They read reviews willingly and are often interested in other people’s opinions before making a purchasing decision. But they are wary of brands. They are more likely to listen to the opinion of friends than of “authorities” from advertising.

Y can refuse work they do not like, even if it is more paid in favor of more comfortable working conditions. Therefore they are objectively poorer than X. They can do without a car and put off buying real estate for the future, but they willingly spend money on gadgets, clothes, sports goods, cosmetics, health products, travel. They like to spoil their children. Often shop online, go to malls not only for shopping, but also for entertainment.

How to attract the attention of Y in advertising: works well the effect of “before and after”, the theme of love and romance, the topic of appearance, health, ecology, spiritual growth, the attributes of a successful life. They can be interested in emotional short messages, show impressions of the purchase, the innovativeness of the product, demonstrate solutions to problems by non-standard methods. Y respond positively to discounts, coupons, drawings, sales, cashback services.

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Advertising channels: they respond well to Internet ads and flashy signs, but they also respond well to TV ads. Interactivity in advertising is perceived positively.

Employees: What to do if your employees are Generation Y

Y employees need to set specific goals and give them a clear understanding of how their work will affect the company. For them it is not the number of hours worked that is important, but the result, so many of them should be given the opportunity to work remotely. Especially in such in-demand professions as designer, programmer, copywriter, editor, video editing specialist, SMM-manager. If X calmly accepts strict rules and dress code, for Y it is better to loosen some rules and focus their attention on achieving the goal.

Y know how to work in a team, but want to be seen as an individual. So when working with them, you need to be able to recognize their intrinsic qualities and motivators. Y people can feel uncomfortable under constant supervision. Y are not afraid to lose their job and more easily quit at will than X if they are not satisfied with something.

And, of course, when working with Y, you have to take advantage of technological opportunities. The Internet and technology are part of their everyday life and they are very good at navigating it all.

Generation Z – who they are, how to sell to them and how to work with them

This generation of people, of whom it is said that they were born with a smartphone in their hands. They are surrounded by gadgets from an early age and understand technology even better than Generation Y. They are well-versed in the modern world and the surrounding information, they follow trends, quickly understand what is interesting and necessary for them and what is not.

Their idols are Billy Eilish, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Youtube bloggers. Now every teenager can get promoted on the Internet and become an idol for their peers themselves.

Their slogan is “Nothing is impossible”.

Years: 2001-2012

Characteristics: The desire for lifelong learning. Meaning not the standard school and university education, but self-education, learning new things. For example, they are interested to understand how this or that gadget works, how to shoot and process video, how to earn money on the Internet. They don’t like to read, they are more interested in watching and listening. They don’t absorb a lot of information – long videos, abstruse texts. But not because they are lazy or stupid, but because the pace of the modern world and the amount of information they receive just doesn’t allow them to get stuck on one thing for a long time. In a short time they have to manage to process a large flow of information and take the most important things from it.

Psychological characteristics: self-centeredness, obsession with appearance, sociability, dependence on public opinion. On the other hand, there are many among them who do not care where you come from, how you look, or where you studied – they are either interested in you or not. They are not afraid to challenge themselves and test themselves. Z want to see equality and non-discrimination all around them. They clearly see their future and strive to grow up faster, which shows up in behavior. Also these people are able to think globally, among them there are more and more those who want to benefit the world and society, not just to arrange their lives.

Dreams and goals: For Generation Z it is important to constantly move and experience. They easily try new things and quickly switch from one thing to another. Generation Z seeks as much diverse information and experiences as possible. They can easily learn several languages, like to travel and try different hobbies. There are many creative people among them.

Features of interaction

This generation is still very young and is still just forming as future buyers and employees. The oldest of them are about 20 years old. But it is important to already understand how to interact with them.

Customers: What to do if your target audience is Generation Z

Communication with this generation needs to be built through the internet. They respond well to videos, especially those with a viral effect. Z are visual and can decide to buy after watching a YouTube video. But it’s hard for them to focus on any one thing; they switch their attention very quickly. That’s why in order to sell something to them your advertising or the product itself should be original and memorable, should make them want to buy here and now. Also they can easily buy something, just because it’s fashionable among kids their age.

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Z are willing to spend money on entertainment, gadgets, clothes, education, travel, and anything that can give them an experience. They pay less attention to brands than Generation X and Y, convenience and practicality are important to them.

Generation Z lives in an age of aggression, financial and political instability, so security – both personal and cybersecurity – is also important to them. They value apps and services where they can remain anonymous (like Snapchat with disappearing messages). If your product can give them a sense of security – you have to deliver that.

How to get Z’s attention in advertising: use visual content and technology, act creatively, conduct surveys, engage influential bloggers, and constantly come up with new things. They have a positive attitude toward advertising that emphasizes social responsibility (charity, ecology, psychology, spiritual growth). Z hate it when something is imposed on them, but are happy to share interesting content themselves, such as promotional video games.

Advertising channels: Internet, outdoor advertising. Advertising on social networks, messengers, games, marketplaces, YouTube.

Employees: What to do if your employees are Generation Z.

Z’s are more ambitious than millennials and aren’t afraid of challenges. You can use their flexibility, their ability to follow trends, and their desire for self-improvement in their work. These people are great at understanding new technologies.

Since Z’s are still more focused on personal development, their skills can be used in working on startups or during the launch of a new line of products and services aimed at their generation. It’s important for them to gain experience and skills that will later be useful in their personal projects or help them advance their careers.

Z people are discouraged by the standard work schedule. They don’t want to sit in an office from morning till night, they like freedom and are looking for inspiration, so flexible schedule or remote work with an opportunity to be in touch suits them. Also Z spend a lot of time on social networks, among them you can find good specialists to work with advertising on the Internet.

There is also the baby boomer generation – these are people born during the war and post-war period (1943-1955). These are people with a winning mentality – ready for hardship, but determined only to win. They are willing to work hard, are hardy and know how to work as a team. They don’t rush anywhere, they value comfort and stability. Specifics of work with this generation is similar to X.

Also talk about generation Alpha – these are those born after 2012. So far it is difficult to talk about how they differ from Z and if they differ at all.


Generations X, Y and Z differ not only in age, but also in attitudes and behavior, respectively, you need to understand these differences to be able to communicate with them. This knowledge is important in business relations and when building marketing strategies.

We should not forget that working conditions and pay are still the main motivator for people of all generations. If job status is important for X and personal growth for Z, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need the benefits package, are willing to work overtime or for low wages for the sake of the company’s prosperity. Every job should be paid decently, then employees of any generation will be motivated to show their abilities in the workplace.

When it comes to marketing – you need to be able to differentiate yourself from the competition, taking into account the needs of different generations. But it is increasingly difficult to get people interested in just a pretty wrapper. For each of the generations, you need to focus on the values that are close to them and use that when creating and promoting your product.

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