Here’s How Your Brand Should Innovate for Gen Z



64 percent of Gen-Z feel brands have an obligation to innovate. Here’s how.


Access exclusive SMW+ content by marketers whose careers you can emulate with a free 30-day trial!

By now most marketers can recognize that Gen Z wields tremendous power. As of this year, these individuals account for 40 percent of global consumers and hold more than 44 billion in spending power. Looking ahead to 2030, it’s estimated they’ll comprise 30 percent of the labor force.

They’re young, digitally savvy, and entrepreneurial reflected in an early but deep understanding of how technology can transform the way we work and live. All of this translates into unique online behavior that brands must continue to try to wrap their strategies around.

Navigating Gen-Z: New Research from Snap Inc. and CASSANDRA

A growing number of businesses are weaving in influencer partnerships, adapting to the rise of ‘dark social’ or a more private, permission-based online environment, tapping into new markets for streaming and social media entertainment, and incorporating videos into their tactics as a means of securing attention in a crowded space.

In the midst of all of these changes, consumer experience has emerged as a leading differentiator indicated by recent findings that show that more than half (64%) of Gen Z shoppers feel brands should provide a personalized experience when interacting with them. As ad budgets become increasingly devoted to social channels (total ad spend across social platforms is projected to reach $517 billion globally by 2023), how can brands prepare today and ensure they innovate in a way that drives brand awareness today and keeps them relevant in the years ahead?

According to a new study commissioned by Snap Inc and CASSANDRA , the answer isn’t as complicated as one may think. Here are a few highlights distilling the key insights and themes from the results.

Don’t negate the influence of emotional and practical utility

Though trends point to Gen Zers being responsive to edgy and visual marketing campaigns, this doesn’t mean you need to spend months or years and a hefty budget on your products. Amongst the four criteria for brand innovation identified by the survey group included an emphasis on customer happiness, expanding access to goods and services, and brands that deliver on opportunities that make our lives easier.

As a best practice, when making choices on adopting the latest emerging technologies, simplicity should be a priority in terms of how plan to improve your offering. Accessibility and affordability are critical to this demographic both in the brands they use and when they are those they haven’t yet.

Take social listening seriously

Gen Zers have a go-getter mentality and feel genuine joy when they’re able to contribute to positive social change. They want to support brands who are active in delivering on its goals and mission and feel as though they play an instrumental role in ensuring the journey is successful.

In this vein, proactively seeking and reacting to consumer feedback is another important mark of innovation not only to the benefit of consumers but in enabling the business to identify unique ways to stay ahead of the curve of its competitors. Eighty-two percent of respondents shared that they are more likely to support a company if they feel their feedback makes a difference. A slightly larger percentage, (82%) report they are more inclined to advocate for a brand if the company actually enacts changes based on shared feedback.

Risk-taking doesn’t mean changing your brand’s identity

It’s hard to not put the words innovation and risky into the same sentence. More often than not, it involves getting creative and stepping out of your comfort zone which can present both challenges and rewards.

Gen Z shares the belief that today’s brands have an obligation to innovate (64%) and that this is table-stakes for staying relevant in an ever-evolving landscape (62%). At the same time, they’re pretty specific about what this looks like in action. For example, they don’t want companies overhauling their identities for the sake of innovating. Instead, they’d much rather prefer them expand their offerings, redesign their products, and act on opportunities to grow beyond their standard, run-of-the-mill products and services (78%).

Indeed, we live in a fast-paced world that only continues to increase in speed and present us with greater opportunities to connect with our audiences through new platforms and technologies. The best mentality we can have as a response? Don’t try to be something you’re not and don’t overthink.

As this survey has shown, the path to success is truly much simpler than we think and boils down to making genuine efforts to connect with our audiences on a deeper, emotional level by listening to them and helping make their lives easier.

Join 100,000+ fellow marketers who advance their skills and knowledge by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.


Newsletter Subscription

Get the latest insights, trends and best practices from today's leading industry voices.

Learn More

Write for Us

Interested in sharing your ideas and insights with the world? Become a SMW News contributor and reach 300k readers each month.

Apply Here