Millennial vs Gen Z Renters

By |2018-03-07T14:51:12+00:00March 7th, 2018|

There has been a tectonic shift in the multifamily industry and this shift doesn’t involve earthquake insurance. It’s the rise of and presence of Millennials and Generation Z as major players in the rental market.

Millennials make up the demographic born just after Generation X – between 1980 and 2000. As of this year, 2018, they have the most spending power of any previous generation. Gen Z comes just after Millennials, born from 2001 to current day. They are already over 25% of the US population and, by 2020, will account for a third of the US population while overtaking Millennials as the generation with the most spending power.

They are also the two most digitally focused generations yet. 65% of Millennials say losing their phone or computer would have a greater negative impact on their daily routine than losing their car whereas 40% of Gen Zers said that working Wifi was more important to them than working bathrooms.

With those statistics alone, it is rather obvious why multifamily owners and managers need to find the best digital methods to market to and connect with both demographics. However, before even attempting to develop effective digital marketing strategies to reach these groups, spend some time finding out WHO they are. Let’s take a closer look at these two burgeoning demographics of prospective residents, how they’re different, and what they value.

Millennials Vs Gen Z: The Technology They Grew Up With (or are Growing Up With)

Millennials remember dial up internet, playing Solitaire and Oregon Trail – and thinking it was magical. They communicated with their friends using AOL Instant Messenger. The first iteration of smartphones came about during their early lifetimes. All of those developments came, understandably, with their hiccups. But because of that, Millennials have a more patience with technology and their expectations aren’t as high.

Contrast that with Gen Z. They were born into a world overrun with technology, instant access and instant gratification. They have never not lived in a non-connected world. They have only had experience with tried and tested, more advanced technology. The new iteration of Oregon Trail was a fun, vintage trope. Because of this, they have higher expectations and are far less patient with the digital world.

Add onto that the average attention span of each generation and you have yourself a convoluted mess of two very different demographics to pursue in very different ways. With Millennials, you have a solid 12 second attention span. That’s far too long for a Gen Z though. They only have 8 seconds of attention to give.

Millennials Vs Gen Z: How Technology is Used

While these groups have much in common in terms of how they use technology, there are some critical differences that multifamily professionals can use to hone in on that make the most sense for them.

Both Millennials and Gen Z use technology heavily in their daily lives; however, Millennials are described as tech savvy, whereas Gen Z as tech innate. So what does that really mean? The tech savvy Millennial is comfortable working with two screens at once. and are “now” focused curators and sharers who communicate heavily via text. They are optimists wanting to be discovered.

Contrast that with a tech innate Gen Zer and there is a clear difference. Gen Z are comfortable working through five screens at once, but that’s just the tip. They are creators and collaborators who communicate with images, rather than text. They stay focused on the future, but are also realists who want to work for their success.

Millennials Vs Gen Z: What they Value in a Brand

What is perhaps most important for multifamily professionals to know is what these demographics value in the brands they interact with. How can a multifamily community break through and appeal to both amidst their differing attention spans and preferences?

For Millennials, it is about developing loyalty to the brand. They cozy up to brands they know and support. And they prefer interactions with a company or brand via social media. 34% of Millennials like a company or brand more if they have engaged with it on social media. Gen Z also find social media a preferred communication channel – especially over email. They are 3x more likely to open a chat message received via push notification on their phone than an email. But unlike Millennials, they don’t have as much brand loyalty. They want to be independent.

​“They [Gen Z] expect businesses, brands, and retailers to be loyal to them. If they don’t feel appreciated, they’re going to move on. It’s not about them being loyal to the business.”

Marcie Merriman, Executive Director of Growth Strategy, Ernst & Young

So a very clear and practical tip for reaching Gen Z — don’t use email. Also, build brand loyalty with Millennials, but leave enough space for Gen Z to feel their own independence. But how?

By being transparent, sharing your values, making it personal, and being authentic. BE REAL.

Millennials crave transparency and Gen Z demand authenticity. They want to see content that’s actually attainable and not overly polished or photoshopped. They value real over anything else and despise photoshopped or misleading ads, posts, or content.


Though this post only scratches the surface of what we could cover about Millennial and Gen Z renters, the key takeaway is that in order to build loyalty and credibility, you must be authentic and BE REAL.

Want to learn more about how you can market to and close Millennial and Gen Z renters? Check out our latest ebook all about multifamily marketing in the 21st Century to Millennials and Gen Z. 

About the Author:

I was fortunate enough to flip my first house the Summer before Senior year in high school and ever since real estate and entrepreneurship have been my passions. I get to live out both of those passions every day by helping real estate professionals from around the world market, advertise, lease, and sell their properties and spaces in new, innovative ways using video.

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  1. […] of renters in the US. As this blog has covered before, the desirability of apartment living for the Millennial and the Gen Z population is only increasing, and they are only part of the puzzle. While they are the largest […]

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