The future is Gen Z
Generation Z may be new to the workforce, but their influence and purchasing power are set to skyrocket in the next five to ten years.
This highly educated and potentially disruptive generation possesses distinct characteristics and values. This means, brands that wish to maintain their relevance and continue to thrive will need to adapt to appeal to Gen Z. They need to learn what makes Gen Z tick and how they interact with the world to realign their brand values and messaging.
In this article, we’ll discover who Generation Z are, what they stand for, and how brands can rebrand or adapt their branding strategy to appeal to them.
Who is Generation Z?
Generation Z, sometimes called Zoomers, were born between 1996 and 2012.
As with every generation, their identity and outlook on life have been significantly influenced by major events during their lifetimes.
A defining characteristic of Gen Z is that they are the first true “digital natives”. Unlike most millennials that came before them, they don’t know life without the internet, smartphones, or social media. Because of this, they have an intuitive understanding of digital technology and are very comfortable with online interactions.
Gen Z have also lived through significant global challenges and uncertainties, including climate change, global unrest, economic crises, and the Covid-19 pandemic. These events have helped shape their perspective of the world and their future within it.
As one of the most educated generations to date, Gen Z have a discerning nature regarding the issues they care about. And they aren’t afraid to leave things that don’t align with their values behind.
Why is it important for brands to appeal to Generation Z?
According to Truelist, Gen Z have a population of approximately 2 billion worldwide, that’s about 26% of the world’s population, making them the largest generational cohort alive.
Gen Z are a young and vibrant generation who aren’t scared to challenge the status quo. They’re poised to be the emerging driver of our workforce and economy and soon will constitute the majority of consumers and wield a significant portion of the world’s spending power. Given the sheer size of their population and growing economic influence, Generation Z preferences and behaviours will undoubtedly shape markets and dictate trends.
Brands that are successful in appealing to Gen Z will tap into a lucrative market and align themselves with a generation poised to redefine commerce and society. The stakes are high, and the brands that win Gen Z’s loyalty could reap the rewards for decades to come.
What are the key characteristics of Gen Z?
To resonate with Gen Z, brands need to understand what drives them and what their unique characteristics are.
Here are some key traits that define Gen Z.
Socially engaged and inclusive
Gen Z have a profound sense of idealism and inclusivity. According to Insight Global, they are the most diverse generation in the workplace. They’re known for being socially progressive and passionate about advocating for equal opportunities for those from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds.
As the first generation of “digital natives”, Gen Z are technologically fluent. The internet is their go-to source of information for news and shopping inspiration. Undoubtedly, online reviews and digital sources significantly influence their purchasing decisions.
Having grown up amidst dire warnings about the planet’s future, Gen Z places significant importance on environmental issues. They’re concerned about the earth’s future and seek out brands that are committed to eco-friendly practices.
Gen Z value individuality and personal expression. They encourage self-expression, celebrate diversity, and tend not to conform to traditional norms or stereotypes.
According to Pew Research, Gen Z are on track to be the best-educated generation yet.
How can brands adapt to resonate with Gen Z?
As Gen Z prepare to become the dominant force in the consumer market, brands need to reinvent their strategy to engage and connect with the mindset of this young generation. Here’s how brands can adapt to target Gen Z and survive:
- Define brand values – Gen Z care deeply about the values that drive the brands they buy from. They appreciate accountability and transparency and often align their purchasing habits with brands whose values mirror their own. To appeal to Gen Z, brands should establish clear and meaningful brand values and mission and vision statements, and make sure they communicate them effectively.
- Establish an authentic brand identity – Perfection isn’t a priority for Gen Z. They crave authenticity and individuality. They tend to prefer brands with a distinctive brand voice and personality. To attract Gen Z, brands should be bold and authentic when showcasing what makes them unique.
- Engage in social responsibility – Known for their strong sense of social justice, Gen Z tend to support brands that are aware of societal issues and actively engage in solutions. From fair trade practices to ethical sourcing, demonstrating a commitment to positively impacting the world can significantly strengthen your brand’s appeal to the Gen Z demographic.
- Foster diversity and inclusion – Gen Z are engaged with social issues like LGBTQ+ rights, diversity, and social responsibility. Brands that demonstrate a genuine commitment to these causes are more likely to appeal to Gen Z consumers.
- Go green – In light of their environmental concerns, brands that adopt and promote sustainable practices have a better chance of attracting the eco-conscious Gen Z.
- Prioritise user experience – As digital natives, Gen Z expect intuitive, convenient, and speedy interactions with brands. This means it’s essential for those targeting Gen Z to prioritise a seamless user experience across all platforms and digital interfaces.
- Build an online community – Gen Z spends a significant amount of time online. Brands should aim to engage and connect with Gen Z by creating a sense of community that promotes trust and authenticity. Working with real people or influencers can help brands to achieve this.
- Emphasise transparency – Gen Z wants the truth and will dig deep to uncover it. Brands must demonstrate transparency in all interactions to maintain their trust.
- Leverage social media – Many Gen Zers live and breathe social media, making these platforms a key place for brands to establish and strengthen a connection with them. It’s not just about being present on social media, either. Brands should consider creating compelling video content, building a genuine community, showcasing their brand’s unique personality, and collaborating with influencers that align with their values using social media.
- Keep it fun – Gen Z appreciates brands that don’t take themselves too seriously. A genuine brand personality and a touch of humour can make a brand more relatable to this generation.
According to Forbes, a staggering 97% of Gen Z now use social media as their top source of shopping inspiration. This fact alone emphasises the importance of a strong and strategic social media presence for brands aiming to capture the attention of Gen Z.
Gen Z don’t just use social media as a product discovery tool, but also for validation and research. They’re less influenced by industry experts and more by their peers, online communities, and influencers. They’re known for undertaking in-depth research before purchasing, often deep diving into a brand’s social media presence, reading reviews, comments, and other available content to establish its trustworthiness and values.
TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram are Gen Z’s most popular social media platforms. According to Ypulse, 69% of 13-20-year-olds use TikTok, making it a key platform for targeting Gen Z. Social gaming platforms like Roblox and Fortnite are also extremely popular.
When producing content for social media, brands should note that Gen Z tend to react more positively to video content than text or images. Partnering with social media influencers whose values align with your brand’s can profoundly impact your brand image and reach within Gen Z. It’s also important to remember that Gen Z appreciates a tailored and authentic approach. Brands should understand the demographic on each social media platform and why they’re there, crafting their content for each platform accordingly rather than posting the same content across all channels.
Examples of brands that appeal to Gen Z
Now that we’ve explored the unique characteristics of Gen Z and how brands can adapt to resonate with them, let’s look at some real-world examples.
Nike has made several strategic moves to resonate with Generation Z. Nike actively supports social causes, including racial injustice, gender equality, and environmental sustainability. It’s launched campaigns like “Dream Crazier” and “Dream with Us” to celebrate and inspire female athletes. It has also raised awareness and solidarity for racial injustice with campaigns “For Once, Don’t Do It” and “You Can’t Stop Us”. Nike regularly partners with celebrities, athletes, and influencers who are popular with Gen Z, including Travis Scott and Billie Eilish. Utilising social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Youtube, Nike shares content that sparks Gen Z’s interest – from inspirational stories to behind-the-scenes footage.
Cosmetics brand Glossier has tapped into Gen Z’s passion for diversity, inclusion, and individuality by launching empowering body positivity campaigns like “Body Hero”, featuring models with diverse body types and embracing natural beauty. It also engages its customers through various Gen Z-friendly platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, where it collaborates with celebrities and influencers who appeal to Gen Z, like Olivia Rodrigo. Glossier also regularly features user-generated content on its social media pages, which increases Gen Z engagement and creates a sense of community and authenticity.
Starbucks appeals to Gen Z’s value of individuality by offering a wide range of drinks that can be customised to the customer’s preferences. Allowing customers to order and pay through their mobile app also offers a convenient and speedy customer experience. Starbucks has actively supported numerous social causes that Gen Z typically value, including its “Race Together” campaign against racial injustice and “Mental Health Matters” campaign. It also engages Gen Z through social media platforms, including TikTok, YouTube and Instagram, frequently showcasing user-generated content and collaborating with influencers and celebrities.
Get help with Gen Z branding
Is your business prepared to evolve its brand strategy to tap into the Gen Z demographic?
At Create8, our team of branding specialists can help your business to establish clear brand values and mission and vision statements that resonate with Gen Z. We can also help you to create a brand strategy that aligns with Gen Z’s values to build meaningful connections so that your brand stays relevant.
Contact us today to start your Gen Z branding project!