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How different generations search for content online: Gen Z vs Millennials

Have you ever wondered how different generations use the internet to search for information? In our industry, we constantly monitor how varied audiences behave online, what are the current trends and the best ways to approach them. Would you be surprised if we would tell you that each generation tends to search online for information in a completely different way?

It is common knowledge that younger generations have proficiency in using social media and technology, as they don’t remember a world without access to the web. Such factors significantly influenced their relationship with the online world as well as their shopping habits, communication, and expectations. Hence their online behaviour will be remarkably different from baby boomers who had to learn how to operate in the online world later on in their lives. But let’s focus on Gen Z and Millennials, as these two different generations constitute the majority of the population and are set to show the most growth in spending.

Gen Z

Gen Z are people born between 1997 – 2012, and are set to become the largest cohort of consumers. Generation Z is described as digital natives, as they have been raised with access to the internet, smartphones, and social media. They are technologically sophisticated, racially and ethnically diverse, tech-savvy, and set to become the best-educated generation. No wonder why their online preferences are different from any other generation. 

One of the biggest distinctions between different generations and Gen Z is the way they search for content. According to Google, nearly 40% of Gen Z prefer to search on TikTok and Instagram over Google Search and Maps. One of the key reasons why younger generations prefer a new way of finding relevant information online is that platforms such as TikTok and Instagram feel more authentic and entertaining while using. Entertaining aspects are placed high among the priorities that Gen Z is seeking online. Moreover, 97% of Gen Z use social media as their main source of inspiration while shopping. It is also important to note how it will change the way we consume information and digital content. With the rise of TikTok and the popularity of short videos, other social media platforms began to adapt to new trends. Facebook and Instagram have introduced a “story” option on their platforms to give priority to short videos. Gen Z and other different generations seek disparate experiences online, therefore targeting younger people online requires new approaches. 


Compared to different generations, millennials strongly rely on recommendations from strangers, specifically in the form of user-generated content (UGC), that includes comments, reviews, pictures, and videos. In fact, 93% of millennials read reviews before making a purchase. Therefore creating a sense of trust and showcasing other people’s positive experience with certain products or services will be ultimately key content that millennials will search for. Google data shows that more than half of surveyed millennials use google before making online purchases. Hence for that generation, Google is the main source of information and tool to look for content online. Compared to different generations such as Gen Z who mainly use social media, millennials use Google not only to search for online products but also to look for a product that they plan to buy in-store.   

Google it or TikTok? How different generations search for information

These two different generations demonstrate distinct approaches to how they access digital content. Due to the success of TikTok other social media platforms as well as Google starts to adapt to new norms. Especially that in the past we saw how younger people changed the history of social media platforms. Facebook has started in universities and schools and turned into one of the most powerful platforms. Although, on the other hand, Google receives billions of searches every day, and now with a multi-search tool it is possible to point a phone at an object and find a product that is the same or similar for sale. Moreover, Google announced in March that this year they began working on ways to display short videos in search results more often. That is a clear way to attract different generations including younger audiences. 

Different Generations = Different Approaches

It is clear that different generations search online in different ways. Therefore saying that one size doesn’t fit all is extremely accurate in this case. Staying mindful of the most significant characteristics of different generations will allow you to understand their needs as your consumers and audience. Through tailoring user experience on your website to your digital estate, it is crucial to tailor it to address different generations’ needs. By regularly delivering relevant and personalised content tailored to the needs of a specific generation, you will generate conversions and surpass your goals. Our research and social media teams are experts at providing in-depth insights to put you ahead of your competitors and pave the way for your organisation’s growth. Get in touch with us today to fine-tune your digital marketing strategy to effectively target different generations.