Gen Z and the millennial generation are not one and the same. In fact, though Generation Z doesn’t have a clearly defined “birth period,” they’re younger than Millennials and are often referred to as the “Post-Millennial” generation. They’re the group that was born from around 1996 to the mid-2000’s, and they’re coming of age. Fast. Like Millennials, they’ve grown up in the age of media, but they have a very different set of needs and desires when it comes to advertising. If your credit union isn’t focusing on them, you’re losing an opportunity to anticipate the future of consumer behavior. So what are they looking for, and how can you capture their attention? We’ll tell you.

Make it visual

Never has a generation had more opportunities to be distracted, overstimulated or overscheduled than Generation Z. They’ve grown up with content everywhere, especially visual communication, and it’s how they prefer to interact. From gifs, to memes, to video, this group likes to keep it artistic and engaging. They don’t like to see a lot of text or whitespace, and they respond to visually engaging and creative content. Because of this, Generation Z has very high expectations, and in order to reach them, your credit union needs to break through the clutter with content that is visually engaging and entertaining. Utilize visuals like gifs, memes and video. Otherwise, most Gen Zers won’t give your credit union’s content a second glance.

Choose the right platform

This generation prefers customization, privacy and rich visual interactions when it comes to social platforms. That’s why it’s important for your credit union to utilize the right social media platform when trying to reach this highly engaged generation. Gen Z relies heavily on messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Kik or Snapchat for private communications. In turn, Snapchat, and Instagram are leading platforms when it comes to sharing content and communicating visually (NOT Facebook or Twitter – their parents use those channels). And when it comes to the most used social platform, Youtube comes out on top. In fact, *for most 13-24-year-olds, YouTube is a “must have,” while only 36% of those consumers engage with traditional TV.

Keep it short and sweet

A generation that is dominated by short attention spans, disappearing Snapchats and six-second videos require brands to hook them in the first few seconds. Gen Z doesn’t spend a lot of time looking at the same piece of content. They are quickly swiping over to the next thing. They’re more likely to watch a video from start to finish when the product and/or brand logo was included in the first three seconds, compared to when no branding elements were visible. To capture Gen Z’s attention, your credit union has to be beyond simply thinking digitally. You have to deliver immediacy, personalization, security and entertainment as quickly as possible.

Be authentic and shareable

The post-millennial generation loves shareable content. They need everything to be authentic, and they prefer user generated content over everything else. However, they don’t care as much about emotional connections as they do the use of influencers and public figures. They’re also quick to ignore marketing ploys and ulterior motives. Gen Z likes to see content that is created specifically for them that includes people, places or things they resonate with. Your credit union will be best served by showing a creative and relatable side when targeting this generation.

Support the causes they care about

Gen Z supports brands that take a stand on social issues they care about. They care deeply about human rights and feel that the brands they interact with must make that a priority. Gen Z wants to know that what they’re doing, no matter how small, is enough to make a difference. Younger generations are becoming involved in social activism at an earlier age. Because of this, they want to see more diversity and “real people” they can relate to in ads, compared to other generations. It’s important for your credit union to deliver experiences founded on the pillars of empathy and human rights. Don’t be afraid to be real.


Although the age gap isn’t very big, Gen Z and Millennials differ greatly in how they perceive and relate to brands. Trust is huge for this generation. After all, their parents are Gen Xers who raised them during an economic crisis. Members of this generation weren’t always given a participation trophy, have a short attention span and generally have less patience with traditional advertising because it’s not believable. They prefer authentic video-on-demand and personal communication from their friends and influencers. Give them something real and interesting, and they’ll be a part of your credit union’s loyal following for years to come.

*Source: Patel, Deep. “Gen Z Hates TV, And What That Means For Traditional Advertising.” Forbes, May 30, 2017.