Much like the theatre world, your patron base is likely quite diverse, with a broad range of generations, from Baby Boomers to Millennials to Gen Z, making up your core demographics. For that and many other reasons, your marketing strategies shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all effort but tailored and segmented to appeal to different bases.

It’s important to identify, understand, and target your audiences with different marketing techniques that will appeal to them specifically. Why? Because you’ll sell more tickets, establish loyalty, and gain more revenue to continue making great art with more than one type of patron. 

If you hope to gain a foothold with younger patrons, you’ll need to start engaging with Millennials and Generation Z. On The Stage explores the difference between the two generations and how to adapt your marketing strategies to appeal to both. 

Key Differences Between Gen Z and Millennials 

Although Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) and Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) are close in age, they do not respond to marketing strategies similarly – and neither respond well to cookie-cutter advertising. 

Right now, Millennials are between the ages of 28 and 43, while Gen Zs are between 12 and 27. Understanding differences in the ways these two generations function and respond to marketing can help you appeal to both. 

How They Understand and Share Their Identity

Over the last 50 years, the world has become more tolerant in many respects. This has fast-tracked in the last 20 years, the formative years of virtually all Gen Zers and some Millennials. 

That is to say, the younger a person may be, the more open they are about exploring and experimenting with their identity. Gen Zs also tend to be more likely to share that identity—even if it’s in flux—with the world on social media. A more open mind lends itself to consuming different media types, including immersive theatre, and a higher sense of media literacy with so many digital resources. 

How Millennials and Gen Z Consume Media 

Regarding the internet and harnessing the power of social media, it’s safe to say that both Millennials and Gen Zers are pros. However, their relationships with social media and the internet itself are different. 

Millennials grew up with a very different internet than we have today and watched its capabilities expand in real-time. Gen Zers, on the other hand, are the first ‘digital natives,’ meaning there was never a time in their lives when the internet wasn’t prevalent in society. A waning attention span results from constantly sitting in front of a tablet or TV … meaning Gen Zers typically respond better to short-form content, while Millennials are likelier to sit through something longer. 

How They’re Influenced 

While the era of ‘influencers’ began with Millennials, their prevalence in society has only grown stronger and stronger by the year. 

It’s safe to say both Millennials and Gen Zers are influenced by things they see online. However, with the rise of TikTok and influencer culture, Gen Zs are more likely to purchase something if an online personality they like is also purchasing it. Millennials, on the other hand, are more likely to respond to word-of-mouth recommendations from friends or peers. 

How They Socialize

The pandemic was a core experience for everyone, but most of all, Gen Zers missed out on many socialization opportunities and major milestones due to COVID-19. 

Because of this and the consistent existence of a high-powered internet, Gen Zers are more comfortable socializing digitally. Millennials, on the other hand, are more likely to meet in person for shows, concerts, performances, and the like. 

How to Adapt Your Marketing to Each Generation

When it all boils down, Millennials and Gen Zers are not that different – but there are a few key ways you can appeal to them separately instead of lumping them together in one marketing demographic. By doing so, you’re maximizing your marketing dollars and thinking strategically about campaigns before you begin. We offer a few suggestions for each generation. 

Appealing to Millennials 

Long-form Content

Many say the human attention span is getting shorter with each generation. This may be true, but Millennials grew up on long-form YouTube videos, meaning that if you find the right audience, they will engage with your content, no matter the length.

Millennials enjoy learning about new things, so consider producing digital workshops about theatre topics of interest or creating educational articles about musicals of note or technical aspects your patrons want to know more about. 


There’s no doubt about it: Millennials love their podcasts. The forever multitaskers, Millennials will put on a podcast during their commute, at work, while doing house chores, or during exercise—so why not ensure they’re patronizing your theatre while they live their day-to-day lives? 

Have some of your theatre’s most vibrant personalities work on a podcast about relevant topics, bringing on guests of note and educating patrons about what they care about. You’ll engage your patrons, gain new ones, and educate your community all at once. 

Video Content of All Kinds

Millennials are champions of streaming services and major fans of all things video content. That being said, make sure your digital streaming options are vast and that you’re creating and posting video-heavy content for social media—whether that’s behind-the-scenes content at rehearsals or digital-only performances. 

Appealing to Generation Z 

Short-Form Content

Gen Zers are constantly bombarded with content. That being said, you only have a few seconds to grab and keep their attention.

That’s why short-form content is king for this generation. Consider creating fast and catchy TikTok videos, dynamic Instagram posts and reels, or other digital content that’s short and to the point. Gen Zers have seen it all – so leave them wanting more. 

Following the Trends  

Gen Zers like to stay “chronically online,” meaning they know every trending sound on TikTok, every bit of drama between content creators, and every product that’s the new must-have—for the next ten minutes. 

The last thing you want to do is hop on a trend late (they’ll make fun of you for it!), so make sure you’re keeping up with pop culture as it happens. The easiest way to get engagement from Gen Zers is to get in on the ground floor of current trends and appear in the know. Study the trending sounds on TikTok and the beef between celebrities, then get to posting. Make comments, create relevant videos, and see your engagement numbers soar. 

Influencer Marketing

The term ‘influencer’ may make your eyes roll, but online personalities are invited to the Met Gala now, so it’s time to embrace them! 

Make sure you have your finger on the pulse of your community’s culture. Who are the people of note – whether influencers, creatives, or other leaders? This can range from a popular food blog writer to the mayor. Tap these community partners and people of note and team up to produce content and push your showcases. Gen Zers will respond well to this, guaranteed. 

On The Stage: Marketing Tools 

No matter the generation you’re trying to reach, having the right marketing tools will help you tremendously. 

By partnering with On The Stage (OTS), your organization can drive revenue with ticket sales, merchandise, and fundraising; save time and money with box office and production tools; create a world-class experience with show sites that include professionally-designed artwork, a walk-up app, ticket scanning, show programs, and more; and create demographic-specific marketing campaigns that will appeal to Millennials, Generation Z, or whomever you’re aiming to target. 

Whether you want help mastering the art of digital streaming offerings or are looking to increase your social media engagement, OTS can help. Book a personalized demo today to get started.

Related products and solutions