The Millennial Guide to Branding in a Gen Z World

Today, the longevity and success of a brand depends on how well it resonates with the demands of the consumer-driven market. With roughly 90 million individuals, Generation Z (born between 1995-2010) is the largest generation and accounts for the greatest number of transactions annually. This demographic’s complete digital immersion gives them an incredible deal of influence on both culture and spending habits across all generations. 

Just selling a product won’t cut it when it comes to Gen Z marketing. They are socially-conscious, tech-savvy, and youthful. They’re also the most diverse generation ever, with a spending power exceeding $140 billion. Gen Z is shaping spending trends, driving significant behavioural and cultural changes, and making choices that will have long-lasting impacts on our future. As digital natives, they have been raised on smartphones, the internet, and social media, and are drawn to brands with clear values, inclusivity, and a robust online community. 

That begs the question–what is important to Gen Z?

Gen Z prioritises inclusivity and accommodation beyond the status quo. Authenticity is crucial for them, with a vast majority valuing being true to oneself. They are eco-conscious and expect brands to be sustainable, practical, and ambitious in their pursuit of success. Gen Z humour is a coping mechanism for their overwhelming realities and inherited issues like climate change, and community and creating a more equitable society are their core values. It is key for brands to maintain a consistent and genuine voice across all touchpoints to appeal to Gen Z’s demand for digital authenticity.

Gen Z grew up in the “experience economy,” where businesses staged memorable events. For them, life is a continuous series of photo opportunities, thanks to Instagram. When catering to Gen Z, prioritise creating inclusive experiences that complement your core product. Unlike Millennials, who responded well to exclusive products that evoked FOMO, Gen Z prefers welcoming and inclusive spaces. 

Brands that have repositioned their marketing strategies to appeal to Gen Zers have seen success. Aerie’s decision to ban photo retouching, alignment with feminist values, and celebration of body positivity in ad campaigns led to growth in this market. Patagonia offers an unlimited return policy on unworn items as well as repair services, giving Gen Z greater value for their purchases. Supreme has also caught the eye of post-Millennials due to its limited releases and multi-brand collaborations. 

Gen Z may prioritise affordable and trendy products for their social media presence, but their values and passion for social justice are paramount. While a lower price point may attract a one-time purchase, brands must align with Gen Z’s principles to earn their repeat business. Gender-neutral items and sustainable production practices are some ways to appeal to Gen Z’s diverse interests. To succeed with this generation, authenticity is key – they can spot fake attempts at pandering. Brands that genuinely strive to make a positive impact in the industry will go far. Understanding Gen Z’s emotional connection to products is crucial for success in their world.