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How the Best Global Brands Connect with Gen Z

Data can help brands evolve with shifting consumer expectations

Is your brand resonating with the Next Generation of consumer?

Millennials have made way for Generation Z. And Gen Z is making an impact on markets everywhere.

Indeed, 40% of consumer sales are impacted by Gen Z, which means they have buying power.

And people like those in Gen Z don’t want to buy a brand… they want to be a part of something.

So, are the Best Global Brands connecting with this key group?

In this article, we’ll show you some of the need-to-know insights about how the Best Global Brands are viewed by the on-the-rise Generation Z. And we’ll reveal if the iconic moves they made have resonated with this growing segment of consumers.

The social insights that contributed to Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2019 report were provided by our team at Infegy, a social listening platform that helps brand teams discover, research and understand consumer trends and insights.

We’ll use the same social data to figure out who NextGen consumers are, what they want, how they live their lives, and the conversations they want to be a part of. This data can pinpoint if iconic moves resonate with their intended audiences.

Iconic moves aren’t about loud noises and baseless stunts anymore— they need to be guided by principles and ideals consumers hold dear. These social listening insights can help you uncover what exactly those are.

If your company’s goal is to reach these consumers (it is), you’ll want to read ahead.

How some of the Best Global Brands Resonate with Gen Z

In the time you’ve spent the last couple of years trying to understand younger consumers, those younger consumers have grown up. They’re participating in the market. And they’re changing it.

Resonating and connecting with people like those in Generation Z isn’t just something brands can hope to do– it’s something that can be measured using data.

There are some important data points that provide insight into the Gen Z mindset. Trust, Loyalty and Engagement (the number of posts online mentioning the brand) signify resonance amongst consumers regarding these brands.

Disney, Amazon, Google, Apple, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s (all in the top 10 of Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2019 report) and Nintendo and Uber (listed as top growing brands) resonate differently amongst Gen Z.

Disney, for example, inspires Trust, Loyalty and Engagement, while a brand like Coca-Cola hasn’t found a way to connect with Gen Z like Disney.

These data points are crucial in understanding how these brands connect with consumers and, more importantly, signify an ability to sustain it.

So what can we glean from this chart?

Disney fans mention the brand and its owned entities often and express high loyalty to the brand.

Amazon’s audiences are the most trusting, but their loyalty is fleeting. That makes sense. Consumer interaction with the Amazon brand is often transactional– I need something, I order it and give them money, receive it and move on to the next thing I need. But in Amazon’s audience conversations, showing that they trust the brand is worth noting.

Apple and Apple entities are mentioned the most, just slightly more than Disney, which shows that the Silicon Valley stalwart has successfully kept Gen Z audiences engaged.

McDonald’s may be the biggest surprise. Gen Z shows little trust or loyalty in the company.

The emotions that are expressed online about a brand are very important to understand how consumers feel about the brand.

Another way to look at how brands are viewed is by looking at the sentiment expressed online about them.

When looking at how Gen Z talks online (blogs, social networks, forums) about the Best Global Brands, you can start to uncover how this generation feels about top brands. Do they view each brand more positively or negatively?

For the leader, Disney, 58% of online conversations from Gen Z are positive, while McDonald’s only gets 32% positive sentiment.

First impression from this sentiment analysis here is that these brands still have some work to do in better appealing to the next generation consumer.

Why? Let’s look at some more insights that better explain who they are.

Different types of Gen Z Consumers Have Varying Views of the Best Global Brands

Gen Z is unlike any generation that came before them.

They have different interests and passions, and they believe in a larger purpose, a purpose they expect brands to be a part of.

When people believe in something, they can’t ignore it. They even feel compelled to buy it.

Young consumers are tech and digital-native. The internet-connected world is the only world they’ve ever known. They communicate differently amongst each other. And they communicate with brands differently than most.

Additionally, they grew up in an economically unstable world with the 2008 financial crisis. They also have grown up in a more progessive and accepting society. And they are active participants in the fight to stop the global climate crisis.

These attributes make Gen Z more varietal and harder to predict than even millennials.

Knowing this, let’s look deeper at how they view some of Interbrand’s Best Global Brands.

For a previous Gen Z insights report, we used data to identify that the typical Generation Z consumer belongs to one of these social personas:


Inside Interbrand’s Best Global Brands report, you will see Nintendo as a top riser this year. Traditionally Nintendo hit it big with Xennial and Millennial generations.(Xennials are the micro-generation of people on the cusp of the Generation X and Millennial demographic cohorts, typically born in the late 1970s to early 1980s.)

For the brand to thrive, they need to resonate with the newest generation. Using social data, we took a look to understand if Nintendo is driving positive brand recognition with its brand.


This helps explain how Gen Z is contributing to the overall growth of Nintendo.

Gen Z is clearly adopting Nintendo as a favorite brand. And with Nintendo re-releasing nostalgia-boosting classic games from their early heydays, it’s proving to catch on as a company for all ages.

So, what about another long standing Best Global Brand? In the case of Apple, Gen Z has a bit of a different take.

Here’s the sentiment analysis of the Apple brand according to Gen Z as a whole, as well as to our Gen Z personas:

Gen Z Fashionistas drive overall sentiment for Apple


Generation Z has a more negative view overall towards the Apple brand, with only a 41% overall positive sentiment. Our fashionista persona views Apple best- which makes sense if you think about the potential use of mobile devices someone in this group might have. Adventurers and LGBTQ+ have a more negative sentiment towards the brand.

This underscores an important element of analyzing Gen Z.

Brands can no longer just look at how well they’re engaging generations as a whole. Different types of members of Gen Z will think, feel, act, and eventually buy differently than others. It’s important to dig deeper into specific audience segments when it comes to younger consumers.

How Brands Can Reach the Next Generation of Consumer

If you’re keeping an eye on the top growing brands, like the ones featured in Interbrand’s report, you’ll see a noticeable thread.

Tech-centric brands like Uber, Amazon Prime, Adobe, Microsoft and Nintendo all made the list.

As we’ll start to see, Gen Z’s interconnectivity and reliance on technology will drive brand growth in ways that rival even the biggest risers of the tech boom over the last decade.

But technology is not the only thing that pushes young consumers towards brands.

Looking at companies that both AdWeek and Fast Company claim are ones connecting with Gen Z, you can start to parse out various branding attributes that seem to resonate.

Some of Gen Z’s favorite brands– Google, YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, Nike, Oreo, Wendy’s– appeal to these young consumers because they do more than just brand positioning, they have a voice. That voice speaks to younger audiences for specific reasons that all companies should consider.

More importantly, these companies all have a place in the daily lives of consumers.

What do some of the best global/top growing brands have in common? Here’s some crossover:

  • Tech-related
  • Take a stand (think Nike)
  • They deal with everyday life (like Netflix and YouTube, which are both tech-based and also how Gen Z consumes media daily)
  • They make life more convenient (like Uber for getting a ride or Amazon Prime for ordering and receiving stuff you need)
  • They participate in pop-culture commentary (like Oreo, Wendy’s and Spotify)

Think about it: these brands all reach consumers because they either are woven into their lives, or they participate in conversations that matter.

Even a company like Nike, which is a top growing brand in 2019 and played a prominent role in last year’s biggest brand moves, has become so much more than a shoe brand. They stand for something that speaks to what people believe in. And when people believe in something, they can’t ignore it. They even feel compelled to buy it.

By actively participating with the next-gen consumers in such a way, brands can transform perceptions and drive business growth.

Perhaps the most iconic moves of all are the ones where brands have seeped into the lives of consumers, becoming entities that they can’t live without.

They’ve moved into their living rooms, into their mail rooms, onto their mobile devices, and into their souls.

Conclusion

As younger consumers play a larger role, they are shifting buying behaviors. And they’re evolving how consumers see relationships with brands. Companies need to show they stand for consumers, their values, causes and conversations they care about.

It’s no longer, “soon, you’ll have to start considering Gen Z.” It’s now: “you can’t afford to not consider Gen Z”.

Brands need to listen to consumers and track their changing expectations in what they want from brands.

Using data like that provided by social listening is an incredibly powerful way to analyze consumers, even those in Gen Z who have only just begun to have an impact on sales.

While there is still largely a lack in raw sales data from young buyers, there is no shortage in conversational data. Gen Z talks. A lot. As we’ve established, they are tech-savvy and they communicate mostly online.

Because of this online behavior, Gen Z has accumulated an endless documentation of information about who they are and what they want from brands.

Their conversations reflect who they are as people and how they see their relationships with brands. They reveal what Gen Z audiences care about, their interests, and what resonates with them.

Gen Z holds the key to brands’ futures. Being a best global brand will require reaching them and meeting their needs.

What’s more, the Top Growing Brands appear to be aligning themselves with the next generation consumer.

The question is: are you?

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