Branding for Gen Z: What You Need to Know (Pt. 1)

“They spend too much time on those phones.”
“They’re just too sensitive.”
“They expect too much.”

No matter what the issue, the population at large has formulated plenty of stereotypes to
describe those of us born from 1997-2013, commonly known as “Gen Z.”

But we are on our phones in ways older generations would instead go to the mall. We are
hanging out. We are researching. We are window shopping. We are getting ideas. We are
engaging with others – just digitally instead of in-person. (And that’s a behavior reinforced by the

So, what are the consumer characteristics of my generation?

We shop on social media. We have always had access to technology and are savvy in ways to
make it work for us. Traditional advertising is not necessarily the way to go if you want to
engage us as consumers. The recent resurgence of the Stanley Cup (not the hockey trophy) is
due largely to social media marketing. More than eight out of 10 of Gen Zers regularly shop on
social media, and 97% will research buying options on at least one social media platform.
We also believe digital first impressions are more important than in-person ones, and while you
may wholeheartedly disagree with that, it’s a buyer turnoff for someone who’s younger than 25 if
your digital footprint looks outdated and is difficult to maneuver.

We are socially conscious. Gen Z buyers pay attention to brand ethics and corporate social responsibility. The vast majority of us support a more inclusive society, and about 33% will block
your company or your brand if we feel you are being inauthentic.

Conversely, we will pay more if we believe the product supports a cause we support. Forbes
reported on our buying habits, highlighting we will boycott a product and tell others to do so, if
we feel a company isn’t in line with our morals and values.

We don’t like to be taken for granted. While Baby Boomers have the most spending power,
and Millenials are the largest consumer generation, Gen Zers are setting trends that often ripple
up and out – shaping the buying habits of the older and the younger – and nearly 90% prefer a
personalized shopping experience.

We’re not into mass email or communication that doesn’t speak directly to our likes or interests.
Don’t assume you can enjoy our business or we’ll help you set a trend if you’re not focused on
our generational values or needs. Brand loyalty is not automatic to us; in fact we have very little.

Are you asking yourself: Well, what do I need to do for my brand to resonate with Gen Z?

It just so happens I have some suggestions in Part 2!