Gen Z’s fluid sense of identity is novel to be sure, but what does it mean for brands trying to adjust their marketing? The group – people born between 1995 and 2010 – are the most ethnically diverse generation in US history, they don’t hold strongly with traditional gender identity, and they’re comfortable with multiple online personas – not accounts, personas. At her capacity session, “Fluidity and Honesty: Gen Z and Identity in 2025”, Jaclyn Suzuki, a Creative Director at Ziba, argues it’s the largest identity departure from any previous generation. For brands and products, these differences will come of age in the next decade as the kids of Gen Z grow up, get incomes, and start projecting their influence on to society and the economy (arguably, they already are, but the critical mass is still to come).
A few takeaways from Ms. Suzuki’s session:
– Represent reality without labeling it: 47% of Gen Z identifies as a minority and they don’t hold with traditional constructs. Let them express themselves and avoid framing them within categories. Another way of thinking about this: beware of prescribing an identity, a style, a use case – represent what others are doing by embracing the huge number of voices and their differences.
– Brand and product are ingredients for Gen Zers’ individual brands and identities, and they’ll use them in unexpected ways. Additionally, brands and products are less a motivation as a support system Gen Z uses to accomplish its goals.
– As a part of repurposing, Gen Zers will develop affinity for brands based on values over features, so focus marketing on brand values over product benefits.
I’m curious to see this conversation evolve, because Gen Z’s fluctuating identities could lead to a fluctuating sense of brand affinity. It will be interesting to adapt Word-of-Mouth marketing strategies accordingly.