In 2018, the Pew Research Center determined that 1997 was the starting date for Generation Z. Anyone born from 1981 to 1996 is deemed a millennial, and anyone born since 1997 is a Gen-Zer.
At this point, the oldest Gen-Zers are turning 25 this year and the rest are teens or younger. (The cutoff for Gen Z births appears to be 2012.)
Among the differences between Gen Z and millennials (also called Gen Y) are:
- Most Gen-Zers have little or no memory of 9/11. Instead, they grew up with lines clearly drawn between the political parties after the event.
- Generation Z is the most ethnically diverse generation in U.S. history. The next most-diverse generation is millennials. Some 52% of Gen Z is white, 25% is Hispanic, and 4% is Asian, again according to Pew.
- The iPhone launched in 2007, when the oldest Gen-Zers were 10. They came of age as social media, mobile computing and constant connectivity were part of the landscape.
- According to a 2021 survey, the top brands for Gen Z were Google, Apple and Amazon. Netflix, Chick-Fil-A and Vans came in after that. But that survey is far from definitive. Others have put Nike at No.1, Netflix at No. 2 and YouTube at No. 3.
For millennials, the top brands were Apple, Nike and Amazon, according to marketing firm Moosylvania. Google was No. 8.
In other words, there doesn’t yet appear to be a deep divide between Gen Y and Gen Z. That contrasts with the divide between Gen X and Baby Boomers, which was driven by some big differences. Baby boomers currently comprise 70 million people, versus 65.2 million for Gen X, according to Insider Intelligence. That doesn’t seem like a huge difference, but Gen X was marked by a “baby bust” mentality that sported attitudes of cynicism and skepticism after the euphoria of boomers.
Baby boomers also had a clear starting point (the end of World War II) and ending (1964, when the birth rate began falling). Since then, the delineations between generations seems somewhat arbitrary. As a result, those expecting a huge chasm between Gen Y and Gen Z may come up short.