GEN Z POV: The Next Generation of Consumers


In a time when you can search for anything you desire in the blink of an eye, consumer trends can change just as fast. What makes us scroll through and pick one brand over another? How do we decide? 

Consumerism will soon be dominated by the up-and-coming Generation Z. With a generation even more tech-savvy than millennials, who have spent much of their lives behind a screen, it’s hard to predict what will attract Gen Z to buy certain products. As a Gen Z’er myself, I decided to dig deep to find out what attracted my attention more than anything else. 

The answer I found: authenticity. Personal connections. That’s what it boiled down to. When brands were genuine, I was more willing to listen to what they had to say. 

There is definitely a movement today to be more raw and vulnerable in every industry. In a world where we have grown up with flashy advertisements and attention-grabbing slogans, truth and vulnerability is what makes us look twice at a brand.

One brand that caught my attention recently was Calvin Klein’s “I Speak My Truth” campaign, which featured young celebrities revealing their intimate thoughts / feelings. The campaign went viral and brought a lot of attention to Calvin Klein. When I saw the campaign for the first time, I was taken aback by how raw and truthful each celebrity was. Although I had known Calvin Klein as a brand before, this campaign got me to think of the brand in a new light. Knowing that Calvin Klein was a brand that supported this vulnerability, I became more likely to give their brand the benefit of the doubt in the future. 

Another great example of how much authenticity appeals to the young audience: Lilly Singh, a YouTuber-turned-mainstream celebrity. Also known by her YouTube alias iiSuperwomanii, she gained fans by the millions by posting videos that were relatable and funny. Unafraid to speak out about her problems, Lilly talked about her struggle with depression and how she overcame that and used YouTube as a platform to find her happiness. The vulnerability Lilly showed attracted millions of young people around the world. What drew me to her was how she managed to be herself in her videos and how real she was with her audience. 

Perhaps the most viral example of how authenticity can impact people was Dove’s “You’re more beautiful than you think” campaign. In the video, a forensics artist was asked to sketch a drawing of a woman based on her own description of her face, and then asked to sketch another drawing of the same woman based on another person’s description of her face. The result was that the features on the drawings described by other people were lighter and happier. The campaign went viral, just like Calvin Klein’s. The reason for this success? People were touched by how much that video spoke to them. Since then, Dove’s advertising campaigns have focused on natural beauty and real stories from real women. 

So, what does it boil down to for the consumer? They want brands to communicate with them in a way that is authentic, dialed-in, and shows respect for all people.  That’s what Gen Z will usher in. 

-Ariel Hsieh

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