As the world continuously evolves with one generation overlapping and replacing the next, brands themselves have to evolve and adapt to ensure that they remain relevant.

Demographically, the GenZ audience refers to people who are born between the mid to late 1990s and 2010. However, realistically, GenZers are those who have been born into the age of the Internet, social media, and information sharing. They are the first generation that doesn’t know a world without the Internet, and they are the true digital natives. They have grown up with social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, and for them, technology is not just a part of their everyday lives, but something that shapes how they interact with the world around them.

Why does branding for GenZ audiences take a different approach?

Branding for GenZ audiences statistics

Source: Infegy

Unlike older generations, this generation has unique behavior, value, and subsequent media consumption habits that differ from previous generations. They  switch brands if they feel like they are not being engaged with in a way that is relevant to them. This generation is also very savvy when it comes to marketing and advertising, seeing through traditional marketing techniques with ease and not afraid to call out companies that they feel are trying to take advantage of them.

Attention span

Forbes says GenZers have an 8-second attention span compared to their predecessors, the millennials, who had a 12-second attention span. This is because this generation is used to being bombarded with content and they have learned to quickly scan and assess what is in front of them. This means that brands need to work harder to capture their attention and keep them engaged.

Consumption

With media consumption, Gen Z is the very first generation to grow up with smartphones and social media. They connect perpetually with their peers and community and have a far more scattered attention span range than previous generations. Brands must therefore create engaging, visually-appealing content that can be far more easily consumed on mobile devices. Additionally, social media influencers and user-generated content are highly effective in reaching this generation.

Socially conscious

Gen Z is the most diverse and socially conscious generation. They are known for being fiscally conscious and value-driven and highly aware of social and political issues. This leads them to prioritize companies that align with their values and beliefs and are willing to pay more for sustainable and ethical products. According to a study by Accenture, 72% of Gen Z consumers are willing to pay more for products from sustainable and socially responsible brands, whereas a survey by YPulse found that 63% of Gen Zers said that a brand’s political stance would influence their purchasing decisions.

Finally, GenZers use several different platforms. Each of the different platforms cater to different audiences in different ways. So, brands need to keep this mind and fine-tune their branding strategy and their content, especially if they are planning to use influencers in their marketing strategies.

What appeals to GenZ audiences?

Branding for GenZ Audiences

Source: Bloomberg

There are a few things that make brands appealing for GenZ audiences. Some brands have been remarkably successful in adapting to this and thriving and some haven’t. It is important to note that GenZers comprise 40% of the consumer population. They are the driving force behind some of the largest cultural and behavioral shifts in modern society.

Brands like Nike, Adidas, and Supreme have managed to stay ahead of the curve by constantly innovating and staying true to their core values. Other brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci have also managed to stay relevant by targeting a high-end market.

So what can brands do to become more appealing to GenZ audiences? To discuss this, we need to understand the GenZ audience and what appeals to them. We can illustrate this with the 3 Cs:

Choice

Brands need to understand that the GenZ audience has been born into an age of choice, an abundance of choice. Information is so accessible in this day and age and GenZers have information and access available to them at the click of a finger—and not just one source, they have multiple sources. Be it sharing information or accessing information, they have so many avenues that they take their time to make their choice or they have a very specific set of criteria in their choices.

Culture

GenZ are extremely particular about culture and community. If something is not relatable to them, then they are going to be looking somewhere else for what they want. It is not like they are limited for platforms or avenues or even providers for what they want. Hence, when you want to target GenZ audiences for your brand, you need to be very specific in your communication as well as your branding. You need to stand out and be different, but also be relatable to them. Be it in the way you communicate or the way you position your brand, make sure that you are doing it in a way that is relatable to your GenZ audiences.

Citizenship

As a consequence of their abundance of choice, GenZ are very particular about their choice. In simple words, they like what they like and there is no way around it. They like being in control and to appeal to them you cannot do things on your terms or your way. You need to understand them and appeal to them with relatable, efficient, and quality content. Be prepared for comparisons and evaluations. GenZ have an insatiable desire to be surprised, to be captivated, or at least to be made curious. Only then will your content be appealing to them.

How do brands reach GenZ audiences?

If GenZers form your target audience, then you have no choice but to appeal to them and adapt your branding and marketing strategy to make your content more tailored to them. There is so much content on YouTube and so many other platforms on how brands can be more appealing to GenZ. One particular point that is common to all is AUTHENTICITY. It is no secret that GenZers can spot phoniness or hypocrisy from a mile away. It is like they have a scent for it, and as a brand, if you are not authentic across all the platforms that you express yourself, then you can expect to be unilaterally skipped on across all these platforms because GenZers will not give you the time of day.

This authenticity is not just limited to the content that you put out but also in your day-to-day activities, including your company values and beliefs, and your interactions with your consumers. If there is a lack of relatability or clarity, you can expect that GenZers are going to call you on it.

In saying, there are 5 things that brands can focus on in order to be more appealing to the GenZ audience:

A clear set of values and beliefs and a core mission for your brand:

Brand values are becoming more prominent with the GenZ audiences because they want to relate brands

Source: Haiilo

Be very clear about what your company stands for. Having a set of core values communicates uniformity across all your channels and your team should be living and breathing these values in their interactions with consumers. 49% of GenZ audiences believe that brands should have a social responsibility. It does not matter what it is but you should have one. As long as you do, you will have a GenZ audience that connects with you.

For example, Nike’s social responsibility is to “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.” This means that they are focused on making products that will help people achieve their dreams, whether it is becoming a professional athlete or just being able to live a healthier lifestyle.

Brands like Parade and Mad Happy also focus on social responsibility by donating to causes that their target audience cares about such as mental health, LGBTQ+ rights, and racial injustice. So, as a brand, you need to know how your values can have a social impact and ensure that you communicate that to your GenZ audience.

Transparency and accountability

These qualities are also important to this generation. So much so that 78% of young people would not buy from a company if it was dishonest about its practices or if it had a bad reputation. This means that companies must be more transparent about their business practices, from where they source their materials to how they treat their employees.

To a GenZ audience, brand trust is second only to price. This means that if a company has to hold true to its brand values both externally as well as internally. This applies to how you communicate with your audience as well as how you handle internal matters. Furthermore, brands need to be accountable for their actions and take responsibility when they make mistakes. This can be done by owning up to mistakes, apologize, and make changes to ensure that the mistake is not repeated. For example, Nike, when embroiled in a controversy over their use of child labor, took responsibility and made changes to their supply chain to ensure that such a thing would not happen again.

In a similar way, brands also need to be responsive to the needs and wants of their target audiences. This means that they should be constantly listening to feedback and adjusting their offerings accordingly.

Social listening

Social listening to research their GenZ Audience

Social media are a core hub to listen in on the conversations of their Gen Z audience because this generation is highly active on these platforms and uses them as a primary means of communication and self-expression.

For example, Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms among Gen Z, with 71% of Gen Zers saying they use the platform daily, according to a survey by Piper Jaffray. Brands can use Instagram to listen in on conversations by monitoring hashtags, monitoring mentions and comments on their own posts, and following influencers who are popular among this generation. By doing so, they can gain insights into what Gen Zers are talking about, what they are interested in, and what they are looking for in a brand.

Another example is TikTok, which has become one of the most popular social media platforms among Gen Z with over 689 million active users worldwide. Brands can use TikTok to listen in on conversations by monitoring hashtags, creating branded content, and partnering with popular TikTok creators. By doing so, they can gain insights into what Gen Zers are talking about, what they are interested in, and what they are looking for in a brand.

Brands that want to appeal to Gen Z must have a strong presence on social media and use listening tools to track mentions of their brand, products, and competitors to gain insights into what Gen Zers are talking about, what they are interested in, and what they are looking for in a brand.

Personify your personality

Personify your personality

Source: Businessoffashion

In order to stand out in today’s crowded marketplace, brands need to embrace personality. A distinct voice and point of view reflects a good solution in everything they do.

It also means being unafraid to take risks and push boundaries. Brands that are boring and safe will have a hard time resonating with Gen Z audiences. Steve Jobs once said:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.”

Brands should embody this if they want to make an impact on GenZ audiences. Embrace the weird, the quirky, the disruptive and you will find a portion of the GenZ that respond to you.

For example, take a look at the fast-food chain, Wendy’s. They have built a social media presence by being unapologetically themselves. From their sassy Twitter account to their funny commercials, Wendy’s has found a way to connect with their target audience in a way that other brands haven’t.

Entertainment over marketing

What GenZ wants is entertainment, not marketing. They see right through traditional advertising and they are turned off by it. In order to reach them, you have to be creative and authentic. You have to find a way to tell your story in an interesting way that will capture their attention. GenZ breezes through information while Millennials are still processing it. This is why it’s so important to find a way to tell your story quickly and effectively. If you can’t capture their attention within the first few seconds, you’ve lost them.

For example, one way to reach GenZ is through social media influencers. These are people who have a large following on social media and who can help promote your brand. You can also use platforms like Snapchat and Instagram to reach GenZ. These platforms are visual and allow you to tell your story in a creative way. Another way to reach GenZ is through experiential marketing. This is a type of marketing that focuses on creating experiences for consumers. This can be done through events, pop-ups, and activations. Experiential marketing is a great way to connect with GenZ because it allows them to interact with your brand in a real way.

The role of influencers in branding for GenZ audiences

The role of influencers in branding for GenZ audiences is monumental in the world today. In fact, 92% of GenZers say they trust influencers more than traditional celebrities. This is likely because they feel that influencers are more relatable and authentic. This is a major boost in influencing the shaping the perception of your brand among GenZ audiences.

For example, let’s say you’re launching a new product. You could host an influencer event where top influencers in your industry come and try out your product. This would not only create a buzz around your product launch, but it would also help to shape the perception of your brand as being innovative and on the cutting edge.

There are a few things to keep in mind when working with influencers.

Firstly, make sure that they align with your brand values: their content should reflect the same values that you want to communicate through your brand.

Secondly, be sure to set clear expectations: what kind of content do you want them to create, and when do you need it by?

Finally, their audience should overlap with your target audience.

How is the GenZ shifting the essence of branding?

The traditional rules of branding no longer apply to GenZ audiences. In order to reach and connect with this target market, brands need to be more authentic, transparent and personal. Gone are the days of one-way, top-down communication; GenZ expects brands to enter into a two-way dialogue, and they are quick to call out inauthenticity.

This generation is more swayed by peer recommendations than by traditional advertising, so word-of-mouth marketing is key. Therefore, brands need to cut through the noise by creating content that is truly original and relevant.

This especially applies to old, monolithic, traditional brands like Pepsi who have not managed to efficiently adapt their marketing strategies to the new landscape.

A great example of a brand that is popular among GenZ audiences is Nike. Nike understands the power of branding and has built a strong connection with its young consumers through effective marketing campaigns, innovative product designs, and a commitment to social responsibility.

Nike is also a great example of how important it is to be agile and adaptable in today’s ever-changing market landscape. In order to stay relevant and engage with young consumers, brands need to be willing to experiment with new marketing channels and strategies.

Conclusion:

As the world increasingly becomes more digital, so too does the way that we consume information and experiences. In order to appeal to young audiences, businesses need to make sure they are keeping up with the latest trends and technologies. From social media to virtual reality, there are a multitude of ways to reach young people where they are already spending their time. In order to build a strong connection with GenZ audiences, brands need to be innovative, agile, and committed to social responsibility. This is the age of GenZ, and brands need to step up their game if they want to stay relevant and thrice.

On a final note, brands should also consider their impact on society and the environment, as young people are increasingly looking for companies that share their values. In order to appeal to young consumers, businesses need to make sure they are doing their part to make the world a better place.

By following these tips, companies can create powerful branding campaigns that will resonate with GenZ audiences and help them connect with the brand on a deeper level. In today’s competitive marketplace, it is more important than ever to stand out from the crowd and create a brand that young people can believe in.

At Pixel Street, we are branding company that intimately understands the importance of branding for businesses and we are committed to helping our clients connect with young audiences. If you want to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today.

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Khurshid Alam
Founder

Khurshid Alam is the founder of Pixel Street, a web design company. He aspires to solve business problems by communicating effectively digitally. In his leisure, he reads, writes, and occasionally plays a game of table tennis.