Understanding how a brand is viewed by Gen Z is key to identifying pathways to connecting with this audience, remaining relevant, and ultimately sustaining brand leadership. Deciphering how to connect with Gen Z will be critical for brands as they are the largest generation, comprising 27% of the US population1. They soon will become the largest cohort of consumers in the US, with a spending power of over $140 billion2 .
The same brands can be perceived differently across generations. Gen Z - born between 1997 and 2012 - is the most ethnically diverse generation in American history. So it is no surprise that they also view brand leaders in their own unique way.
To illustrate, we used BAV syndicated data to compare perceptions of two sets of leading brands in culture – Nike and Ben & Jerry’s and Apple and Dunkin- among Gen Z and the General Population.
Nike and Ben & Jerry’s
Gen Z is a generation that is not afraid to stand behind their beliefs. They are not afraid of voicing their opinions across public forums and this behavior permeates their life choices too. Today, a company’s values and lived purpose influence not only their employer choices, but also their purchasing habits. Knowing this, leading brands like Nike and Ben & Jerry's today are adapting to this shift in attitudes, going beyond the functional and taking a stand on social impact issues central to their brands’ purpose.
Among Gen Z, both Nike and Ben & Jerry’s get recognition as ‘Progressive’ brands who’s messaging and actions resonate with this generation. However, among Gen Pop, these brands are seen as more ‘Opinionated’ and ‘Arrogant’, reflecting a school of thought that views a brand’s role in culture as more functional.
Apple and Dunkin Donuts
Gen Z is also the first "digitally native" generation, meaning they are the first generation to be born into and brought up during the age of digital technology; they've gained a familiarity with computers from an early age and essentially don’t know life before the smart phone. With this digitally native lens, Gen Z perceives Apple as a "Tried & True" leader. They recognize Apple for being traditional, simple, straightforward, and a good value. However, among the General Population, Apple is recognized as "Cutting Edge" - a brand that is recognized for being innovative, unique, progressive, and dynamic.
Dunkin' also carries these two divergent personas, however, the roles are reversed. The General Population recognizes Dunkin' as a "Tried & True" leader, while Gen Z sees it as "Cutting Edge".
BAV Group is launching a syndicated research study to better understand Gen Z with the following objectives:
Determine which brands resonate most with Gen Z and why
Identify drivers of brand equity among this cohort – pinpointing category expectations vs. differentiators
Highlight which brands resonate most with specific ethnic groups (Hispanic, African American) within Gen Z and why?
If you are interested in learning more about Gen Z and how they perceive and interact with brands, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org