Brand equity is made up of an average of factors including momentum, consideration, quality and familiarity. These factors also reveal extra information about the particular ways in which a brand is appealing to Gen Z: for example, high “quality” numbers indicate that Gen Z thinks a brand’s products are good quality, while high “familiarity” and “consideration” numbers could mean Gen Z is just starting to learn about the brand.
Square’s influencer work pays off
Square, a brand under the recently-renamed parent company Block Inc., attributed its rise in popularity to its content showing younger demographics how to start their own business.
The company produced videos in December 2021 on YouTube with creators in their 20s such as Elle Mills and Charlie Chang, with tips for Gen Z entrepreneurs such as how to create a career in gaming and how to go viral on TikTok. The brand’s other content included a YouTube series spotlighting Latinx-owned businesses.
Square’s Global Head of Marketing and Communications Lauren Weinberg also referenced the company’s campaign in March that highlighted the range of ways entrepreneurs can get paid. One ad features a number of entrepreneurs such as a DJ. Alternative forms of payment such as using QR codes to pay online became popular during the pandemic, a trend that the brand leaned into. The software company added the choice to “buy now, pay later” after acquiring and most recently integrating fintech company Afterpay in January 2022. By the end of 2022, 44% of Gen Zers over the age of 14 will have used “buy now, pay later” at least once this year, according to market research firm Insider Intelligence.
Leveraging Gen Z platforms
Home appliance manufacturer Whirlpool ranked second, which it attributes largely to its presence on TikTok. The brand created an account at the start of this year after a TikTok featuring a Whirlpool microwave went viral in 2021 and is also benefiting from the #CleanTok hashtag that popularized videos featuring home appliances and cleaning. The brand also partnered with Pinterest to create a “Whirlpool Virtual Showroom” at the end of 2021 and has been working on smart appliances that include a thermometer-connected app that allows users to check whether their food has finished cooking in the oven.
Other brands leaning into TikTok include skincare brand Neutrogena, which placed ninth, and Marriott Bonvoy, the hotel brand’s travel and rewards program, coming on its heels at tenth.
Neutrogena has relied on influencers such as R&B artists Chloe and Halle and actor Lana Condor to promote its content, while Marriott Bonvoy launched a TikTok competition to search for “TikTok correspondents” to post about their stays at the brand’s hotels. Marriott is focusing on how “this generation values experiences above all else,” stated its senior VP of brand, loyalty and portfolio marketing Brian Povinelli in an email.
Focus on sustainability and social issues
Hertz and Lululemon, which ranked sixth and 16th, respectively, placed similar emphasis on efforts to become more environmentally friendly, a priority with Gen Z consumers.
Lululemon launched its resale “Like New” program in April for customers to buy secondhand items. Gen Z is often described as more inclined to shop secondhand: 90% of online resale platform Depop’s users are under the age of 24, according to Business Insider.
Hertz is jumping into electric vehicles. After purchasing 100,000 Teslas, the company is now set to buy 65,000 EVs from Swedish electric carmaker Polestar over the course of five years. Automotive website Cars.com came in eighth. The company highlighted its informational content on EVs as a reason for this, along with its heavy presence around NCAA basketball games at the end of 2021 and March Madness this year.
Whirlpool’s social initiatives also include clothing donations and net zero-emission standards. The brand partnered with Disney on the release of “Encanto,” a film that features a Colombian family. Whirlpool believes that this tells “Gen Z that Whirlpool is an inclusive, modern brand that understands families like theirs,” according to a spokesperson.