are you looking at your brand through Gen Z eyes?

posted by

Paul McDowall

a guide on connecting with the iGeneration.  


the first group of people to grow up as true digital natives, the iGeneration – or more familiarly known as Gen Z – are a highly knowledgeable and engaged group of young people who are seemingly not influenced by the old tricks of branding past. born between 1995 and 2015 they are not a monolith and where their dualities diverge can make quite a difference.

the two sides within the generation are Me vs. We, the traditional success and self-focused vs. the non-conformist with a community focus, however, the outlook on brands tends to overlap. and although they are young they are also highly informed and know where to go to get the information they are looking for.

so how can heritage brands connect with them and not become the next viral hashtag for all the wrong reasons?

according to Morning Consult brands like Oreo, Target, Doritos and Microsoft are among some of the most loved brands by Generation Z. what are these companies doing to be named most loved by this digital first generation? not only are these companies successfully using social media networks to connect they have also cultivated specific types of relationships and personality. these brands have found success by playing up transparency and successfully harnessing a perceived authenticity that aligns with the beliefs and causes that are important to Gen Z.


there is a certain level of inherent trust and nostalgia heritage companies can benefit from. brands like Oreo, Doritos and Target have been able to innovate and stretch in ways to keep their brand’s engagement top of mind with Gen Z-ers. limited edition products, interactive social media profiles and changing the business model to accommodate quicker (and freer) shipping, these companies have been able to keep up with the changing demands of a vocal generation. but beyond these quick grabs at attention what kinds of principles and belief systems are these companies tapping into?

if you look at a company like Oreo – although they haven’t taken an overtly political stance – they play up their fun and wonder elements that bridges the gap between the nostalgia of a childhood treat and adding new and fun ways consumers can integrate them into their new adult lives. on the other end, Target became a leader in the battle for $15 per hour wage, which is an indirect political stance that speaks to the type of societal work that bring Gen Z consumers into the fold. stances around food quality and availability, equality in wages, ingredient transparency, and overall adding humanity to a company are all of interest and importance to this group.

as a larger company it may seem daunting to take a stand, but in order to grab Gen Z playing both sides doesn’t work. according to an article by Bloomberg, 40 percent say they’d pay more for a product if they knew the company was promoting gender equality issues and 42 percent for racial justice initiatives. heritage companies must determine where they want to fit into the larger picture.

the best way to attract Gen Z is to meet them where they are. update your digital and social assets, determine your beliefs, your core elements and the reason why your company or brand can actually assist and add to the life a of a Gen Z-er and stick to them. taking a stand when it applies and bringing back the fun and unique elements of a brand tend to spell success when done the right way.