How Does Gen Z Choose a Brand?

Posted by

Nicole Ike
November 24, 2021
4
Min read

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Audience segmentation is often divided into generations such as Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers and so on in order for companies to better understand an audience's purchase behavior. Each generation has a very distinct method of choosing a brand which constitutes the very top of the marketing funnel.

In the digital age, the differences and similarities between Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers are often compared. Yet, the way these generations grew up and the different life experiences they had caused the generations to have certain characteristics. My generation, Gen Z is known for growing up using technology which is why we are generally more comfortable using technology than Baby Boomers and Gen X. The differences and similarities between Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers can also be seen in our CX preferences. The way I decide where to shop or what apps to use is certainly different from how my mom, my grandad, and my millennial older cousins do. I am a part of Gen Z so I tend to use the internet more than my older family members. For example, I sometimes use online chats instead of calling customer service. To decide what brand to buy from or use, I tend to follow a pattern. I first find out about a brand or have a problem that I need to solve. Then I do my research about the brand or the problem itself. 

How do I find out about a brand?


I usually discover brands on social media. Some products I already know about, such as Levi’s and Facebook, because they are so widely used. For challenger brands, I typically hear about them from social media. Sometimes I see an Instagram ad and will take a screenshot to look at later if the ad catches my eye. On TikTok outfits of the day (or OOTDs) videos show up on my for you page. Creators will often tag or link the items they mention in these videos. YouTube acts similarly with the creators showing off their outfits or shopping hauls and linking the items they mentioned. However, this is just how I find out about brands. It does not mean I will buy from them.


How do I verify an app or product?


Once I find out about a brand, I will do my research. This might mean I go in person and check out the quality of their products, but more often than not, this research will take place online. I may check out YouTube reviews or look at what Redditors are saying. Or maybe I will go to a more specialized source like a fashion or tech blog. One tech Youtuber, who I turn to see what tech products are worth buying or not, is Marques Brownlee. If I am looking at a specific item, whether it is clothing or houseware, I will read the site’s customer reviews, but I will also look outside of the site for reviews just by searching Google. This will show me some reviews compiled by Google and other websites I can look at. These principles apply to services and apps too. Even if it is free, I want to choose the best one. Free apps and services are a little different because I can try them both out myself. Therefore, I will rely on what other reviewers think and on what I think too.

What do I look for in a company before I buy from them?


After verifying the quality of the items or service, I want to confirm the company is also quality. This means that the company is real and that it is reasonably ethical. To verify that I am not using a scam app or service, I will generally look for reviews. If it is a trusted brand, I will look at the reviews on the site. If I am not sure about the trustworthiness of a brand, I will compare the reviews on the site to what reviews on other platforms say. This could mean I look at blogs, reviews Google pulls from other websites, or I may check Reddit. In my opinion, Reddit is especially good for finding products. There are communities of people enthusiastic about certain topics, so I sometimes use Reddit as a starting point, then research brands or products more from there. Although it can be very difficult to find a perfect brand, I try to look for one that is not constantly being accused of racism or fatphobia, such as Brandy Melville


What kinds of advertisements speak to me? 


I do not think I will ever say I like an ad, but some advertisements are more tolerable than others. Amazon’s Rapunzel ad almost, almost made me a fan of Amazon. While it features a Black person starting a hairdressing business, it won’t make me use Amazon more frequently. On the flip side, some brands create ads that cause me to stop using them altogether. For instance in 2017, Dove created an ad showing a Black person using their soap then turning into a White person. Yes, it actually happened and it aired. For obvious reasons,my family now avoids using Dove products. I’m sure there are other brands out there with racial and environmental problems and if I see them, I will most likely “ban” them from my purchase habits too. I think what makes the Amazon ad speak to me is that it was centered around someone who is Black, like me, and featured a song I know. Amazon made an ad that was somewhat relatable to me, which is why it stood out. This ad was on TikTok so it was aimed at Gen Z. Usually, I just skip TikTok ads, but I watched this one and it was clear I wasn’t the only one. The ad also began to appear on larger formats like streaming services and TV.



What kind of experience do I want on these brands' platforms?


I generally want a seamless online platform that is easy to use. By that I mean I do not want to constantly have to be googling how to do something (Hello EdTech!). Instead, it should be clear what I am supposed to do without looking at outside sources. If I do need help, I appreciate being able to contact customer help easily with either a chat box or phone number to call. I do not like having to send an email to get help because these typically take longer, and I have to leave the platform to send one.

Companies Need to Understand the CX Preferences of Gen Z

The youngest members of Gen Z will reach adulthood in 2030, while many members of Gen Z are already adults. This makes Gen Z the next generation of customers. Gen Z is a diverse group of people who increasingly care about diversity and the environment. Similar to younger millennials, Gen Z also grew up using the internet. Companies need to understand who we are and what we want because we are their current and future customers. As more of Gen Z reaches adulthood and has more decision-making power as well as financial independence, the user base will either grow or move on depending on the customer experience. We do our homework, and if it checks the right boxes, we engage, but if the experience fails us, we move on. And, in a digital world, it’s as easy as a swipe to the left or right. 


Nicole Ike

I'm a college student studying economics at Stanford with a passion for communication, marketing, and writing. When I’m not writing, I’m probably showing someone pictures of my dog or cat, making a new playlist, or trying to finish a book off of my ever-growing book list.