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5 ways brands can capture the Gen Z consumer in 8 seconds

By Jackie Mallon

Nov 10, 2021


Image By UNiDAYS

Gen Z is the largest generation globally, with an annual spending power of 3 trillion dollars. As a group they are confident decision-makers, individualistic, and are behind all the latest trends to take over social media, the most recent being the Y2K comeback which emerged on TikTok. But they have an eight second attention span compared to the twelve second attention span of millennials. That makes for quite a tricky customer. Brands have limited time in which to make an impression so understanding Gen Z’s habits and priorities can be essential to getting their spending dollars. But a new report released by UNiDAYS, the world’s largest Student Affinity Network, which surveyed its 18 000 student members worldwide on all things fashion delivers insightful findings.

Gendered language is increasingly off-putting

Gen Z prioritize individualism and going against the grain. 56 percent do not follow fashion trends but almost all of them credit clothes with making them feel confident while 87 percent say they feel sexy in the right clothes. 79 percent of Gen Z have no qualms about buying clothes marketed to the opposite gender, while 23 percent think that traditional gender-focused language used by retailers is outdated and offensive.

Morals fuel brand loyalty

For 79 percent of those surveyed sustainability is of the utmost importance and 67 percent look for clothes that appeal to their social conscience. Brands who represent Gen Z’s values will be rewarded with their dollars. One in four surveyed admit to not knowing where their clothes are manufactured, so more transparency regarding supply chain will be a winning strategy for brands looking for a way into their good graces. 39 percent accept buying pre-loved clothes as a way to be more sustainable and they enjoy recycling because it is also more cost effective. Gen Z expect their favorite online retailers to create genuine social media content which speaks to the environment and social justice. 85 percent will research a brand online before committing to a purchase.

Luxury is lagging in its appeal

The luxury market needs to do its homework as 71 percent of Gen Z do not relate to luxury brands. But all is not lost. Almost a third of those surveyed have bought one or two pieces of luxury clothing this year, while 32 percent say they follow designers and 40 percent appreciate limited edition pieces. So this is an avenue for upmarket brands to appeal to this consumer. 47 percent consider design to be the most important criteria when buying luxury and the same number said they buy luxury clothing as a treat.

Pennywise but party-ready

Gen Z find it difficult to part with their cash and do not like to pay full price for anything. However, they are ready to wear party clothes now that pandemic restrictions have generally been lifted. 84 percent are looking forward to making new in-store purchases despite their often-reported predilection for online shopping. 64 percent expect to spend more on outfits, with dressing up a high priority. 95 percent are hungry for a bargain and 82 percent will develop loyalty to brands which offer regular discounts. Over half consider shopping a social experience to be enjoyed with friends.

Gen Z’s relationship with advertising

While 56 percent of those surveyed say they don’t follow brands on social media, Gen Z aren’t as put off by advertising as older generations are, so long as it is relevant to them and does not pop up during social conversations or instant messaging. TikTok is home to the most Gen Z users with 39 percent, Instagram is second most popular with 37 percent followed by Facebook with 10 percent, Snapchat with 9 percent and Twitter with 5 percent. Gen Z believe there should be certain restrictions in the social space. It should be illegal for influencers to use retouched or unlabeled content, say 90 percent, while 93 percent believe social media promotes unrealistic body image and life goals. Three quarters of those surveyed don’t feel comfortable shopping directly on social media and 85 percent will research elsewhere online.