Is Brand Loyalty Dead with the Pivotal Generation Z?

Posted by: Angie Read

Word on the street is that brand loyalty is dead with Gen Z, thanks to the influence of the Millennial generation before them. We at FutureCast, however, disagree.

While brand loyalty may be on the decline, it’s not because the Pivotal generation won’t be loyal. Rather, it’s because most brands haven’t yet earned their loyalty. As 18-year-old Gen Z consultant Connor Blakley shares, “It’s not brand loyalty that’s dead – it’s brand effort.” This means that brands have yet to scratch the surface of what it takes to connect and build subsequent relationships with this up-and-coming influential generation of consumers.

In fact, per a study from Retail Perceptions, 81 percent of teens will switch from their “favorite” brand to a similar product that’s of a higher quality; 79 percent indicate that quality is their main decision-making factor when purchasing, not necessarily the name-brand; and 72 percent of Gen Z will switch to a new brand if they find a similar product for a lower price.

If brands can’t meet the price and quality expectations of this generation, they’re automatically irrelevant (but this is not a novel consumer behavior in the market). But considering a playing field where other factors are at parity, Gen Z will time and time again choose the brands that support their efforts to be unique and help them cultivate their personal and constantly evolving identity. Brands seeking to win their love must create products that are on-trend, make a statement, showcase innovation, and/or help make the world a better place – not to mention make their lives simpler. Additionally, if brands can create entertaining and informative content that supplement these products, they are in an even stronger position to earn Gen Z loyalty.  

Yet loyalty remains a two-way street. Pivotals expect brands to be loyal to them before they’ll return the favor. Brands can do this by truly listening their consumers and working to understand not only what they want but what they need, as well as the why, when and how of those wants and needs.

A tall order, to be sure. But not impossible. Consider athletic giant Nike, for example. In GSW’s 2017 Consumer Trends report, nearly a quarter of Pivotals claimed Nike as their favorite brand. While more than 50 years old, the brand’s constant innovation continually impresses young consumers. And most importantly, it talks the talk and walks the walk when it comes to two key expectations of this generation: diversity and personalization. In this way, it has proved to the market that it is truly listening to its audience and willing to do what it takes to connect with them – ultimately reaching greater overall success.

The question is: Is your brand ready to invest the same effort?

About Angie Read

Angie Read is Vice President of Growth Insight at Barkley. She has 20+ years of consumer marketing and public relations experience for brands including Sprint, Hallmark, Huhtamaki, Dearfoams, Foot Petals and baggalini, as well as...See Angie's full bio.

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