How to Market Cannabis to Zillennials and Older Gen Z

How to Market Cannabis to Zillennials and Older Gen Z

Published on 12/25/22

We are a culture obsessed with defining ourselves by our generational titles. From Baby boomers to Gen Z, we cling to our shared experiences to make sense of how we see the world. But since there are only a few blocks for each of us to fall into, some of us inevitably slip through the cracks.

Zillennials, or those that fall somewhere between the generational definitions of Millennials and Gen Z, are one of these groups. Too young to face the housing woes of Millennials but too old to relate to the TikTok phenomenon of Gen Z, Zillennials are a forgotten generation with a surprising amount of spending power. To market to them effectively, you need to relate to their specific world experience.

Who Are Zillennials?

Zillennials are those born between 1994 and 1999, making them ages 21 to 28. While this age gap still encompasses quite a range of experiences, it is a more narrow window that is inherently more relatable to those that fall within it than the broader generational classifications.

Zillennials in America are united by their shared understanding of generation-defining events and cultural artifacts. Because of this, they have a unique perspective on popular culture, humor, and a broader worldview.

Millennial and Gen Z Borders


Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1993, making them aged 29 to 41. Those who are millennials age have been scapegoats for many of the world's current issues, at least in terms of media coverage. Their inability to buy houses because of massive inflation has been blamed on their affinity for avocado toast, and the media partially blamed the results of the 2016 American presidential election on a perceived lack of millennial voter turnout. A few millennial characteristics also unite them besides their negative portrayals in the media, like their concern for the environment, their propensity towards saving, and their affinity for social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter. All of this information is vital in effectively marketing to this age group.

The Gen Z age range, on the other hand, is between 22 and 10, meaning they were born between the years 2000 and 2012. Gen Z has also been a target of media scrutiny in recent years. From their love for the video-based social media app TikTok to their freedom from traditional norms in terms of gender and sexuality, Gen Z is known in popular culture as an alternative crowd who marches to the beat of their own drum, sometimes to the chagrin of older generations around them. Despite these generalizations, a few gen z characteristics unite this age group. They see through needless social norms to value direct communication and authenticity above perceived politeness. They also value self-care and refuse to deny their rights and needs. Due to recent mass global upheaval, they are more likely to question traditional societal rules and authority.

Gen Z vs. Millennials

There are a few key differences between Gen Z vs. Millennials, the most prominent being that some of the latter group are old enough to be the former's parents. Millennials also tend to be more cautious than their Gen Z co-parts. Both generations have had to endure many global and societal issues like economic upheaval, racial disparity, and global warming. Still, Gen Z was born into the chaos, whereas Millennials experienced the slow burn. This has made Millennials more cautious and more traditional than younger generations. In contrast, Gen Z tends to take things less seriously and take more risks because they see how tenuous society can become.

How are Zillennials Different?


Falling squarely between Gen Z and Millennials is another subset of a generation, Zillennials. Zillennials have a unique perspective from their bordering generational groups thanks to their point of view on the same societal changes we've discussed previously. Unlike Millennials, Zillennials are no older than 28, meaning many have yet to encounter many of the struggles of older people, such as the institute of marriage, buying a home, and having children. They are, however, over the age of 21, meaning they have had to endure more mature situations than their younger counterparts, like renting property, entering the workforce, and paying for health insurance. Even though most Zillennials grew up with cell phones and the internet, for example, it is not the same internet, and the technology was not as sophisticated as the tech that Gen Z is using today. While they've also lived and experienced the rise of social media networks, Zillennials are Instagram's main users, particularly the Stories feature. While Gen Z prefers Tiktok and Snapchat, Boomers prefer Facebook. They're not, however, overly concerned with more encompassing issues like debt and their ability to retire as Millennials are, there are some Zillennials born in 1999, after all.

How to Market Cannabis to Zillennials

Since we have established the fact that Zillennials have a unique perspective on the world, marketing anything to them looks different from marketing to Gen Z, especially in terms of cannabis.

Be Accessible


Since they greatly value direct connection with brands online thanks to features like direct messages and comments on social media, Zillennials expect their brands to be on social media and reachable. Like they text their friends and receive a near-instant response, Zillennials have the same standards for their favorite cannabis brands. When they reach out, they expect their brands to be informed and knowledgeable about their product and the platforms they use to communicate. Zillennials are eager to be loyal to their brands, but they have to earn it by being accessible and treating them like valued customers and friends.

Be Ethically Responsible

Zillennials care a lot about ethical business practices for the environment, employees, and the economy. From sustainable sourcing to fair wages, Zillennials will respond well to businesses that prioritize a positive global impact. Regarding cannabis, that means demonstrating your values in your marketing materials and brand identity, both organic and paid. Zillennials are wise enough not to respond to simple buzzwords and instead push for more significant equity in terms of social position and broader societal justice. Sustainable, ethical cannabis will always be more appealing to Zillennials than cheaply produced, exploitative bud.

Invest in the Aesthetic

Seven Point Interiors

Zillennials grew up in an immensely visual world. From the dawn of movie magic like 3-D technology to powerful supercomputers in their pockets showing them beautiful images all day, this generation appreciates beauty in a way their older predecessors may not. For cannabis, this means introducing audio-visual formats, bespoke photography, and thoughtful narration. They care about packaging and interior design, how it looks and feels. Zillenials appreciate aesthetic content that feels off the cuff but is still professional and sharp.

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Clare Sausen
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