Born between the mid-1990s and mid-2010s, Gen Z is the first generation to grow up in a world that’s fully immersed in technology and social media. With access to this vast amount of information, Gen Z tends to be skeptical of traditional marketing tactics and often seeks out authentic and transparent brands.
According to Edelman, 73% of Gen Z buy or advocate for brands based on their beliefs and values. Before making a purchase, they are more likely to research a brand's history, values, and practices, and are often influenced by peer reviews and social media presence. Authenticity is key for Gen Z, and they are more likely to support brands that are open and honest about their products and practices.
Gen Z’s unique upbringing has allowed them to develop a distinct aesthetic that reflects their cultural identity and set them apart from previous generations. With their strong presence on social media, Gen Z has had the power to shape trends and influence what’s popular. Brands have taken notice of this and are now catering their marketing strategies to appeal to this generation's aesthetic preferences.
In this blog post, we dive into how Gen Z has completely revolutionized the marketing world and how brands are trying to keep up.
Breaking down the Gen Z aesthetic
The Gen Z aesthetic takes on a maximalist approach, emphasizing bold and vibrant patterns, colors, and textures, and embracing a more-is-more approach to styling. Exhibit A, Portia's character in HBO's "The White Lotus." Beyond fashion, Gen Z takes their style and aesthetic to designing their homes, just take a look at Emma Chamberlain’s LA home. It’s not just about setting trends, but more importantly about self-expression and making a statement.
Sustainability and eco-friendliness are also just as important to Gen Z shoppers, who are more conscious of their impact on the environment than previous generations. In fact, they actively seek out brands that prioritize ethical practices and sourcing, and they’re willing to pay a premium for products that align with these values. For Gen Z, shopping isn’t just about acquiring goods but also about making a difference in the world. By choosing brands that share their values, they can feel a sense of purpose about their purchases and their impact on the environment and society.
4 ways brands can appeal to the Gen Z shopper
Appealing to the Gen Z shopper has become increasingly important for brands, as this demographic is quickly becoming a major force in the consumer market. Gen Zers are a highly influential and diverse group of consumers whose priorities and values differ from previous generations. With an estimated buying power of $360 billion, brands that can successfully tap into the Gen Z mindset have the potential to capture a significant share of this lucrative market.
To help brands succeed in appealing to the Gen Z shopper, here are four key values they must live by:
1. Diversity and inclusion
As a generation that champions equality and fairness, Gen Z shoppers demand that the brands they support not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Brands can appeal to this demographic by showcasing and celebrating a range of models and products to different sizes, races, genders, and abilities in their advertising and marketing materials.
Gen Z shoppers are passionate about protecting the planet and ensuring a sustainable future for generations. Brands that prioritize sustainability not only appeal to their values, but also inspire and engage them to become active participants in the movement toward a more eco–friendly world and future.
Authenticity is a core value for Gen Z shoppers, who prioritize and seek transparency and honesty in the brands they support. Emphasizing authenticity in your brand can create a powerful connection with this generation, inspiring them to become loyal customers.
It's not enough for brands to simply sell products – they also need to be actively engaged in their communities and demonstrate a commitment to social causes. By valuing community, brands can tap into the immense power of social connection and engage Gen Z shoppers to feel a sense of belonging and be a part of something bigger than themselves.
4 brands embracing the Gen Z aesthetic
Baboon to the Moon
By incorporating bold colors, playful patterns, and edgy designs into their products, Baboon to the Moon fully embraces the Gen Z aesthetic. Their focus on sustainability and functionality also aligns with the values of Gen Z shoppers, who prioritize eco-consciousness and practicality in their purchases. Through their use of social media and influencer collaborations, Baboon to the Moon has successfully captured the attention and loyalty of Gen Z consumers.
Wildflower Cases offers trendy phone cases with unique designs, bold colors, and quirky graphics that appeal to this generation's individualistic spirit. The brand has built a strong following on social media through their use of influencer collaborations and user-generated content (UGC), which helps to create a sense of community and inclusivity among their young customer base. For Pride month in 2022, Wildflower Cases created Pride-themed cases, where the proceeds were donated to LGBTQ+-friendly charities. This commitment to social justice and activism resonates with the socially conscious values of many Gen Z shoppers.
Alo Yoga has a strong emphasis on wellness and self-care, which resonates with Gen Z's interest in self-care and holistic health. Alo Yoga's products often feature bold and vibrant prints, which is a key characteristic of the Gen Z aesthetic. Their influencer marketing approach spearheads their entire social marketing strategy, as they frequently collaborate with influencers, celebrities, and high-fashion models popular among Gen Z. By working with influencers who actually use their product, Alo Yoga remains authentic and true to themselves as they market to their consumers.
Depop is an online marketplace for secondhand clothing and vintage items, promoting sustainable fashion practices by encouraging users to buy and sell pre-loved clothing. The platform's search algorithm prioritizes trendy and unique items, which appeals to Gen Z's desire for individuality and fashion-forwardness.
The Gen Z aesthetic isn't just a trend; it's a way of life. With their love for bold colors, sustainable materials, and maximalism, this generation has made a major impression on everything from fashion to home decor to entertainment. From Depop's thrifty finds to Alo Yoga's wellness-inspired prints, the Gen Z aesthetic is shaking up multiple industries and encouraging brands to think outside the box.
With their focus on inclusivity and authenticity, Gen Z is redefining what it means to be trendy and, in the process, they're forcing brands to get on board. So if you're a brand looking to resonate with your Gen Z audience, take a cue from this avant-garde generation and embrace the power of authenticity.