Hlib Kliuiko

Technical Writer

Marketing to X, Y, Z Generations

Marketing to X, Y, Z Generations: the Ways of Email Targeting

Generational marketing is driven by a simple and rather obvious fact: different generations have their own values, interests and priorities. This means that you should set up the targeting for each of them taking into account these differences.

Recently, generation Z is gaining more and more importance on the market. It’s not only gaining consumer power but also sets the trends that generations-predecessors – Xers and Millennials – are picking up.

In this context, it becomes critically important to choose the right internet marketing strategy depending on the generation. Especially for the ecommerce industry during a pandemic. Times of crisis intensify competition, and those win who adapt their marketing and business processes to new circumstances.

In this article, we'll look at the best marketing strategies for the three main generations of online shoppers – X, Y and Z.

Generation Characteristics

When determining the time boundaries between generations, it is necessary to take into account the sociocultural context in different regions that affected their development. Thus, one generally accepted classification of generations doesn’t exist – the time ranges may differ by several years.

The generations we are interested in are active online users. The high-speed spread of the Internet in the early 2000s and the emergence of smartphones in the 2010s greatly influenced them. These 2 factors have been the main reasons for the boom in ecommerce and streaming content.

It is generations X, Y and Z that are most focused on ecommerce. This distinguishes them from previous generations, most of whom still prefer offline purchases and traditional types of advertising (outdoor, television, magazines, newspapers, and radio).

So, who are the representatives of X, Y and Z, and what сharacteristics differ them?

Generation X (1960-1980)

Key events that influenced the growing up of Xers – rising divorce rates and women’s workforce participation, punk and grunge music, information technology development.

Xers are called “the greatest entrepreneurial generation in U.S. history” and “the hardest-working employees in today's workforce.”

Gen X remembers the world without the Internet well, but despite this, most of them understand modern technologies and spend a lot of time on the Web.

Xers prefer brick-and-mortar stores but are actively exploring online shopping. They choose places where they can buy everything at once, saving precious time.

Gen X has a high level of brand loyalty, according to the survey by Retail Dive. This differs it from next generations, for whom the opinion of buyers is more important than the brand.

Also, they have high requirements for online security. Adobe’s study showed that one in three Gen Xers does not trust any social network.

These are the main features based on which we’ll build a communication strategy for Generation X.

Gen Y (1981-1996)

The key events that affected their growth are postmodernism and the boom of digital technologies, primarily the spread of the Internet and mobile communications. Millennials combine civic and social responsibility with skepticism and lack of ambition. For them, satisfaction with the present is important, so they are more likely to choose an interesting job than climbing the career ladder for years.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of Millennials said they would rather make $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they think is boring

Governance Studies at Brookings: How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America

The desire for minute-to-minute entertainment has become one of the reasons for the interest in gamification in all its possible manifestations: from the passion for interactive films (like "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch") to the gamification of purchases.

Millennials are information literate. They are excellent at searching and finding the information they need, so their trust in direct advertising is much lower than that of previous generations. This explains the attention and trust to the advice and recommendations of friends, bloggers and ordinary netizens.

Advertising that can interest Millennials should not sell but entertain them.

And, of course, Millennials are the most active and largest generation of online shoppers.

Last post

Gen Z (1996-2014)

The Internet, smartphones and social networks have the greatest impact on their growth. Zoomers don't like to read text, preferring photo and video formats.

Generation Z has witnessed the rapid development of hi-tech technologies, one of their main idols is Elon Musk. They are well aware of the difference between career opportunities in the IT sector and traditional employment areas, which affects their career guidance. The technology industry is now thriving and today more and more companies tend to hire IT people.

If you google generational marketing, 9 out of 10 articles will be about Gen Z. At first sight, this seems strange, because Zoomers are the most insolvent generation so far. Nevertheless, this generation forms trends, and what is fashionable among them today will become generally popular in a year or even earlier.

Take TikTok as an example. 69% of its users today from 13 to 24 years. A couple of years ago, only Chinese teenagers knew about the application, and today, in 2021, it is the most downloaded application in the world.

Marketing Communication Strategies for Different Generations

Now that we've covered the main characteristics of these three generations, let's see how to target each of them.

Marketing to Gen X

The ideal tool for this generation is email marketing. Xers are the most likely to check their inboxes – at work and at home, on mobile and desktop devices.

Given Xers loyalty to brands, good ways to keep in touch with them are:

1. Welcome campaign after subscription with your brand history, benefits and useful materials.

Welcome email

2. Thank you for your purchase emails.

Thank you for your purchase

3. Emails with an invitation to the VIP club or personal discount, emphasizing the uniqueness of your clients and your special attitude towards each of them.

VIP email

Don't forget about the busyness of Xers and the associated constant lack of time. They are unlikely to want to read long texts. Short paragraphs and clear CTAs will work best.

Clear CTA

Consider Xers' high demands for online privacy on the Internet. From using the best private browser to employing strong encryption tools, they prioritize their online security. Get permission for web tracking and the use of their personal data in your campaigns.

Special Request Inline

Add a link to the privacy policy in emails and on the site. Provide the opportunity to choose what kind of data to provide you and what information to receive from you.

Marketing to Gen Y

There is a myth that email is dying and Millennials and Zoomers hardly use it. Both Gen Y and Gen Z will quickly unsubscribe from overselling and intrusive campaigns. But they regularly read emails that entertain or benefit them.

A good way to resonate with Millennials and Zoomers is to gamify your emails with AMP elements.

Email gamification

Most Millennials follow their favorite brands on social media (84% on Facebook and 76% on YouTube). This means you need to cultivate these social networks. The emphasis should be not on sales, but on entertainment too. And don't forget to add social media invitations to your emails.

Inviting to social media

Use social marketing. Millennials value brands that benefit society and the environment.

Social marketing

Millennials make a purchasing decision only after reading reviews for a product or service. So, you should add them to your campaigns to gain the trust of Gen Y.

Social proof

If you don't have enough feedback yet, email marketing can solve this problem too. Especially now that AMP surveys are easy to add directly to the email.

Survey in email

Marketing to Gen Z

Generation Z is growing on social media. But this doesn’t change the fact they use email almost as actively. 85% of Zoomers prefer email to other communication channels. And this percentage will increase as more and more Zoomers get employed.

Email has many advantages over other marketing communication channels. It allows to personalize bulk emails and helps you connect with the right person at the right time with the right message (thanks to segmentation by online behavior).

Plus, you can add pictures and videos to your marketing emails – visual content is the best for Zoomers. Our editor has a pre-made block that you can drag into an email, provide a link to a video – and the video for your campaign will be ready!

Adding video block to email

The more Zoomers can interact with your email, the higher their engagement will be. So, AMP elements are a must-have for Gen Z emails.

AMP email

A Microsoft study found that Zoomers can concentrate for 8 seconds, while Millennials – for 12 seconds. This means the recipient must read the main message instantly and be able to immediately perform the targeted action.

Remarketing is another effective way to deal with the short attention span of Zoomers. For example, you can set up automatic reminders for abandoned carts and browses.

Abandoned browse email

But be sure to limit the frequency of sending messages. Otherwise, Zoomers may think that you are pushing on them instead of caring.

Don't use email to send information about company updates or new blog articles. Zoomers are used to receiving such content on social media. They are interested in email as a source of promotions and discounts.


You can add user-generated content to your campaigns. Gen Z makes the buying decision with friends, family, and microinfluencers. Add photos, videos, and reviews from other Zoomers who are sincere fans of your brand to email, and your Gen-Z customers will appreciate it.

Celebrities in email campaign

Summing Up

Age is just one of the interrelated factors affecting a person's online behavior. Perhaps education, area of interest, or income level are more important.

Yet this doesn't mean that generational marketing is a useless theoretical model. It focuses marketers' attention on the cases where age determines digital preferences and habits. Observing the interpenetration of trends among three online generations helps anticipate future changes and adjust your marketing strategy.

At the beginning of the new decade, we can state that email marketing hasn't lost its importance for ecommerce but even strengthened it. Young people continue to read emails, although they do it a little differently than older generations. And that means we can continue to take advantage and improve the most cost-effective online marketing channel – email.

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Hlib Kliuiko

Technical Writer

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