August 21, 2023
Gen Z cares. As a buying group, they are spending their dollars with companies that tend to have a more authentic brand, take a stand on sustainability and value diversity. In short, companies that “get them.” A group of individuals born in the mid-1990s to the early 2010s, their favorite brands are ones that invest in social change and take a stand on fair labor practices and inclusivity. This is a diverse generation with recent survey numbers showing that 50% of Gen Zers identify as non-white.
Growing up in the bloom of the smartphone and digital culture, the people of this generation are digital natives. They have seen more and have been more immersed in global culture and perspectives. That has directly impacted the way they seek both information and experiences. Their spending preferences are gaining notice with recent research showing that this group is spending $463 billion annually in the United States and a whopping $853 billion globally on clothing, shoes, groceries, beauty products, electronics and entertainment. As Gen Zers come into their own, building their careers and outfitting their homes, they seem more at ease in a diverse and expansive world. This generation is also more likely to identify as LGBTQ+ and more likely to expect marketing, branding and media to reflect their openness.
YouTube and TikTok lead the list of popular media to Gen Z, though neither are publicly traded. Netflix (Tii:NFLX) remains popular, especially with its flexibility to stream through different devices (phone, tablet, laptop, TV) and its award-winning original content. Netflix content is very much in line with Gen Z values with shows like “Never Have I Ever” and “Atypical.” Apple (Tii:AAPL) and the iPhone function as a lifestyle brand. Communication and tech platforms could be considered a new language for this generation. Discord, a privately owned communication app, and Reddit (owned by Condé Nast) cultivate communication and the exchange of information and opinions, while Twitch (owned by Amazon) is an app that hosts live streams where patrons can watch video gaming or people playing music. Connectivity and immediacy are characteristics of the way that Gen Z lives. SnapChat (Tii:SNAP) is an app that remains strong with this generation, providing consistently fresh content in stories while also functioning as a preferred communication platform over texting.
The products and brands most popular with this generation are those that also support their desire to be more healthy and invest in self-care. Companies that make clean body care products like Native, purchased by Proctor and Gamble (Tii:PG) in 2017, have become popular due to their commitment to using ingredients that are better for you. Fenty Beauty, owned by (Tii:LVMH), is similarly committed to social and environmental ideals. The cosmetic line, created by entertainer Rihanna, has been beloved by the young generation since its 2017 launch. Built on the premise of beauty for all women, Fenty offers 40 shades of foundation utilizing earth-sensitive packaging. The brand has since become the standard in cosmetic equality and representation.
Thrifting has experienced a new following with this generation. Gen Zers are going to local shops, but also looking on resale apps like Depop, owned by Etsy (Tii:ETSY), to purchase and sell unique second-hand clothing. Fast fashion giant SHEIN (not publicly traded) incongruously appeals to this group due to its affordability and quick turnaround. Similarly, Amazon (Tii:AMZN) ranks high for Gen Z because of its immediacy and consistent breadth of choices. Also, Amazon continues to evolve in ways to court Gen Z by opening brick-and-mortar stores, thereby marrying the desire for convenience and experience.
Nike (Tii:NKE) ranks high with Gen Z and has surpassed Adidas (Tii:ADDYY) in popularity in selling clothing and footwear. The brand stays true to its sports and sneaker foundation but also focuses on trends and uses Gen Z celebs and athletes to stay relevant and attractive to its younger consumers.
Utilizing influencers has been something that brands are looking to do more and more. Some companies have employed influencers to manage their social media platforms and attract Gen Z followers. A personalized recommendation is appealing and relatable, creating a bond where the consumer then follows the company’s posts to see more and engage more, naturally building brand loyalty, a following and sales. Gen Z is a generation that is expanding the way that other generations see the world.
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