Key takeaways for brands are:
Make improving consumers’ mental health a priority
For Gen Zers, improving one's mental health is the first step toward achieving meaning, purpose and human connection. Brands that aim to help young people move up Maslow’s hierarchy ladder should acknowledge that mental health is the gateway to doing so.
Your brand doesn’t have to provide therapy sessions to achieve an increased focus on mental health. It can look like partnerships with services such as Headspace or Calm if it’s complementary to your brand. Or it could be doubling down on inclusivity and promoting body positivity, or simply adopting a more positive and uplifting tone. Brands that help Gen Z feel good about themselves and more confident about their lives will have a leg up on those that don’t.
Develop a strong music strategy
Music helps Gen Zers improve their health. Brands (health & wellness and beyond) should be thinking about their music strategy as a way to drive relevance with Gen Z.
Whether it’s investing beyond a stock track to accompany a new spot or simply publishing a brand playlist on Spotify, music can help communicate what the brand stands for while building relevant connections with Gen Zers.
Brands that historically have made music a priority facet of their brand include American Express and Pepsi. Understanding their approach can help you start to craft a music strategy for your brand.
Connect through brand value-driven content
Content provides shared experiences through which Gen Z builds community and social connections. One respondent described this by saying, “When I read articles, I feel connected with the writers. And when I actually watch movies and TV shows, I feel connected with the actors/actresses and the other viewers.”
Additionally, Gen Zers are using content (including brand content) to determine what’s right or wrong. In order to become part of the self-exploration and moral setting process, brands should use storytelling to communicate shared values.
To build relevant connections with Gen Z, brands should develop lifestyle content based on their brand values, as opposed to just products. This approach will provide a way for consumers to connect with the brand as well as connect with each other over a shared branded content experience.
Help them help others—with more than just money
Gen Zers want to help others, but they’re thinking beyond just monetary help. They see help as being there for others with their time, availability and advice. Gen Z respondents viewed helping others as “uplifting others on social media like Facebook or Instagram,” and “[using] Discord to talk with multiple online friends about the common woes of everyday life and helped them get out of ruts.”
For brands to live into the attribute of helping others, their give-back efforts should center around community and connection as much as they do giving.
Enable community and connection
Brands that provide spaces and places to connect with existing friends and family as well as meet new people will find success in building relevance with Gen Z. One respondent captures this sentiment well, saying, “I feel most connected to my community at concerts [and] outdoor performances … you can log into the Nike run club app and feel like you're a part of a global running community. [On] Spotify, I feel super connected to my friends when I get to see what music they're listening to.”
Community and social connection aren’t just an attribute of religion, but also a central part of life. Brands that create spaces and places, both digital and physical will build relevance and preference with Gen Z over time.