What is the difference between a ZVV ticket and an SBB ticket?

With the ZVV you purchase "time and space"; outside of the network you purchase the route. A ZVV ticket is valid in all public transport vehicles in the zones given. The route-based ticket on the other hand is valid only for a specific route and a specific means of transport.

For travelling in the ZVV territory (Canton of Zurich and 14 neighbouring municipalities) only zone tickets are issued. Within the zones purchased the tickets are valid for all public transport vehicles. For example: In zone 110 (City of Zurich) the tickets are valid for the S-Bahn, tram, Limmat ship, Polybahn, Dolderbahn and all regional buses in the city territory.