Do your brand values align with Gen Z?

April 17, 2024·5 min read

The truth is, probably not. But that’s okay; it’s nothing you can’t learn. 

Gen Z is loud about what we care about; we believe that everything from what we wear to what we buy is a statement of who we are. And so, it should come as no surprise that what motivates our spend the most is your brand’s ability to make that same proclamation; tell us who you are by centering your values at the forefront of your identity. But where can brands find alignment with what Gen Z cares about? 

Pass A Turing Test

Are you a robot? (check yes or no). To romance a generation that’ve spent their entire conscious lives online, you’ll need to make it past their built-in ad-blockers - think of it like a brand Captcha test. We want you to feel real and champion authenticity in everything you do. 

So don’t allow yourself to become a faceless corporate entity; fight the matrix. Your brand is an amalgamation of dozens to thousands of lives, ideas, hearts, and minds. Put that humanity at the forefront of your identity - and own when you, like all humans do, fumble. Mistakes are forgivable when addressed transparently (lose the corporate jargon though, you sound like Chat GPT). 

Don’t Just Talk About It - Be About It

But ideally, talk about it too. The ‘It’ in question? Your brand’s social responsibility. Ethical business practices and sustainability are the most important of Gen Z consumer values. Where do most brands go wrong? They strap on the cape without identifying the purpose. Moreover, we found that 78 percent of Gen Z thinks it’s all cap anyway. 

We are not new to the game, and can sniff out performative advocacy in a heartbeat and a hashtag. So do yourself a favor, and don’t worry about overthrowing the authoritarian state or turning down the heat on global warming. Gen Z doesn’t need you to save the world (we’re already on it, so don’t worry about that). What we need is for you to find authentic throughlines connecting your brand to the world and the things that need changing in it. Start small, start local, start now - flashy activism never outweighs heartfelt impact. 

“Ultimately, the way we exist can be a stance on political issues. If a brand is honest about their ethical practices, sourcing, etc., and continues to uphold specific values related to human rights, [then] existing in that fashion is consequently taking a stand. It is not up to brands to suddenly be the main voices on political issues, but they often have widespread platforms where everyday people can be reached. Brands are allowed to say they were uninformed or do not have the width to grasp certain concepts, but many political issues are entirely aligned with operating a business in a capitalistic society, so it seems almost necessary to bring attention to issues that surround us constantly.” 21-year-old female college student from Massachusetts

Set Fire To The Cool Kids Table

Gen Z says you can, in fact, sit with us. Mean girl behavior is a huge turn-off - we’re a generation that champions radical inclusivity. Why do we need that table anyway?

We like our brands inclusive from the top down. And your commitment to it should be reflected in everything from your product availability, accessibility, and optionality to the faces that make up the image of your brand. More than anything else, your identity should be optimized for inclusion - the ability to bend, stretch or expand to make room for someone new should be a statement of who you are, not a challenge to it. 

“[If I owned a brand], I would want to make everyone feel included by the brand. [I would want] people to look at the people in our ads and see people who look like them so that they can see [themselves] using our products too.” Black female college student, 23, Indiana.