Gen Z and Legacy Brands. The opportunity is real.

We’ve been saying it for awhile and we’ll say it again: it’s time for marketers and brands to start paying attention to Gen Z.

Why? Because they’re 68 million strong (26% of the population) and, in the next two years, they’ll make up 40% of consumers. Already adding up to $44 billion in annual spending power, this means increased potential sales for your brand.

It’s important to recognize that Gen Z are not just Millennials on steroids. They’re a truly unique demographic. Digital natives and global citizens, they literally do everything online. But the most noteworthy difference for marketers is that they don’t seem to be rejecting legacy brands the way that Millennials do.

Our proprietary I-Factor® studies, along with secondary research, is beginning to illuminate just how different Gen Z actually is from Millennials. And we’re starting to see real opportunities for brands who tap into those differences.

Millennials pretty much reject legacy brands outright, but Gen Z feels differently. According to one study, 43% of Gen Z already trusts long-established brands. There are a couple of theories that support this. One is that they’re open to the brands that their Gen X parents introduced them to. Another is that since Gen Z thinks of themselves as having a personal brand with a story and values by which to live, they seek brands that support their story no matter the brand’s size or tenure. But corporate brands must still tread lightly. According to one Gen Zer, “Nobody’s going to buy a product from a corporation who you know it’s just out for the money, unless you see them doing good stuff (even if only for the sole purpose of winning trust).”

These finding offer a huge opportunity for the big brands like Gerber, Purina and General Mills who continue to lose share to smaller brands, largely due to their disconnect with Millennials. Also feeling the Millennial impact, Kraft/Heinz shares recently fell 7 percent and Special K bars sales have slipped 39% since 2011. Yet, many of these brands are doing the right things around ingredient transparency, sustainability, and purpose. And that’s where Gen Z presents a HUGE opportunity for brand’s to regain their footing if they tell the right story.

We just saw this first hand in our I-Factor® snack bar study. Snack bar legacy brand, Kashi revealed a score much higher among Gen Z and is winning in Irresistibility with this younger generation, while Millennials preferred younger brands, Kind and Lara. And if you connect the “why’s” to the data on Gen Z and their preferences, there’s an interesting story there.

With I-Factor®, we unlock the “why’s” behind the data with metaphor elicitation – using images to unlock the subconscious. When we conducted our Gen Z snack bar study, we were beyond impressed with the articulate, passionate responses from this generation. And it makes sense.  They express themselves on social media all day in metaphors, memes, and gifs. It’s second nature for them and that—for us (and your brand)—is beyond exciting. And even more exciting, we’re going to keep tracking them in real time with our social listening. The possibilities are endless!

Want to get your brand set up for success with the next generation of spenders? We can help. If you want to dig into and start to shape Gen Z’s relationship with your brand, let’s talk.

© 2019 Sawtooth Group. All rights reserved.

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