Marketing Brand Strategy Influencer Marketing

Think you know gen Z? Here’s what they want from brands in 2023

By Emily Lowes | Marketing manager

Raptor Digital Marketing

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January 9, 2023 | 9 min read

Emily Lowes of agency Raptor looks at what will impact the attitudes, behaviors and priorities of our next generation of leaders: generation Z.

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Gen Z wants brands to stop putting them into a box in 2023 / Shingi Rice via Unsplash

In our latest insights report ‘Introducing Gen Z’, we at Raptor conducted several focus groups with our network of over 5,000 students to find out exactly what they really care about going into the new year. We uncovered findings in five key areas: social media, dating and relationships, alcohol, music, and fashion.

Social media

Gen Zers are addicts when it comes to social media and live much of their lives through their digital devices, spending a shocking 10.6 hours engaging with online content every day. Social media is one of the biggest influences on their lives.

However, they are not susceptible to everything they see online. Despite being dubbed the digital native generation, they can spot when something is ‘off’. They are growing tired of brand marketing campaigns that fail to show the reality of the world they live in and the use of inauthentic influencer ads to push products onto their timeline.

Raptor found that brands are grouping all gen Zers together into a single stereotype, failing to recognize sub-cultural nuances between different groups. In 2023, gen Zers are hoping that brands start to recognize them as individuals. Brands should also make an effort to understand the variations in style, interests, hobbies, political beliefs and principles that exist among them.

Dating & relationships

There is a common misconception that dating for younger generations is easy with the rise of dating apps like Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble. Our focus group reveals, though, that the apps have only made dating more sporadic, creating new categories like ‘situationships’, unrealized relationships, and lack of meaningful connections.

Most students agreed that they were unable to name any brands that supported them when it came to sexual health and safety.

This year, gen Z are looking for brands that really understand the struggles of dating and the different ways they can support them to make it a positive experience. Over the past year we’ve seen apps like Tinder delve into student relationships on campus, allowing students to match with other students, narrowing the search field to what gen Z want to see: people like them.

Alcohol

British drinking culture has changed. We’ve even seen café culture's growing popularity, as gen Z re-evaluates its priorities around alcohol consumption.

Our study supported the premise that gen Zs are changing their opinions of alcohol. This is happening for a number of reasons: 46% agreed their online image was always at the back of their mind; others said their priorities had shifted to work/university performance. 86% believed there are risks to physical and mental health which are more important. They are now drinking to improve social events, not to get drunk.

2023 will see a decrease in gen Z's presence in clubs and bars, and an increase in experiential alcohol events that they can engage with. There is an obvious association between alcohol and music, but brands can be smart by focusing more on the music (a great successful example of this is Budweiser’s Boiler Room collaboration).

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Fashion

Gen Z faces several dilemmas when deciding where to shop for new clothes. Among them: whether to shop cheaply or ethically.

Most of those in our focus group agreed that they are more ethically conscious than other generations. But they also agreed that ethically-conscious consumption remains difficult, as sustainable clothes are yet to match the price point of fast fashion. That's a huge sticking point for gen Zs that are on a budget.

Despite secondhand marketplaces like Vinted and Depop becoming a huge hit with those seeking sustainable steals, there remain issues around reliability. For example, influencers continue to promote new collections with fast fashion brands, influencing gen Z into less sustainable shopping habits.

Gen Z wants to see competitive prices for sustainable products, and to be able to purchase them before they become obsolete, without being ripped off and before they're sold for a fraction of the price by a fast fashion brand. This generation craves authentic eco-friendly marketing strategies from brands that want to make a difference. Love Island’s recent partnership with eBay was a good example of this.

Brands, stop generalizing gen Z

There is an opportunity this year for brands to get to the heart of what gen Z really cares about. In doing so, brands will open themselves to a whole new demographic composed of many sub-cultural nuances. Gen Zers don’t want to see brands targeting them with a one-size-fits-all approach. They want to be recognized for their complexities, differences, needs and anxieties, and supported in a meaningful way.

Marketing Brand Strategy Influencer Marketing

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