[US] New Brand on the Block

What Gen Z’s approach to checking out new brands says about them, and how companies should respond.

As Gen Z grows up, they gain greater influence in the economy. This legion of young consumers is on their way to being the largest global generation, and the fact that they came of age in a digital-first world has indelibly shaped their behavior, including how they engage with brands.

How should marketers respond? How should brands think about speaking to today’s young consumers, and what is it that matters most  to them? We partnered with CASSANDRA to learn more about Gen Z’s approach to new brands. Here are some of our key findings.

When it comes to discovering new brands, friends and family have the biggest say—for the most part

Over a quarter of Gen Z said they first heard about a new brand from a friend or family member’s recommendation. 1

This is particularly true for retail, entertainment, fashion, and technology brands, where 28% indicated this was the way they first heard about a new brand in the category. 1

There are exceptions, though. When it comes to food products, seeing the item in store is the best way to learn about it for Gen Z. For consumer goods and beauty products, one in four agree that an online ad is the preferred way to discover new brands. 1

Gen Z is down to do their own digging, but user opinion makes a big difference in a few key categories

When young consumers want to learn more about a brand, they find current brand users most persuasive, but they also like to venture off on their own and do their own digging.

They turn to company websites to learn more about retail, fashion, consumer goods, technology, and entertainment brands. When it comes to what goes into their bodies, though, Gen Z takes a different approach. User reviews are their go-to resources for more on new beauty brands, and family and friends are most reliable for learning more about new food brands. 2

Buzzworthy experiences go a long way in distinguishing brands from the competition

Nearly 3 in 4 said they would be interested in a new brand if their friends were talking about it (73%). Additionally, nearly two-thirds said they would be interested if the brand created a unique experience for them and their friends to attend (65%). 3 They are looking for brands to entertain (42%), educate (40%), advise (39%) and provide an experience (37%) for them. 4

Gen Z are powerful advocates, but they expect brands to be accountable

Contrary to common perception, Gen Z are more likely to share positive, rather than negative, brand experiences. Close to half (46%) said they’ve shared a positive experience at a store, and 40% indicated they recently shared a good customer service experience with their friends or family. 5

Where these young consumers draw the line is social good and ethics. 54% said they would stop using a brand if they feel the company engages in unethical business practices, and 37% cited negative environmental impact as another reason to give up on a brand. 6

The way Gen Z discovers, explores, and keeps tabs on companies points to the way brand equity is evolving. At every turn, consumers are looking for signs they can trust a brand with their business, and they’ve sharpened their methods for finding out. They want to know that the brand’s product or service is effective, that it provides great experiences, and that it acts responsibly: three areas brands must prioritize as they continue connecting with this powerful new generation.

Julia Berk from Team Snapchat