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Gen Z: What the Go-Getter Generation Wants From Their Brands

What do they want, these Gen Zers?

Not since – well, since marketers dissected and fussed over Millennials – has the world of commerce been so awash of data and forecasts to predict the base level of desires for a segment of the population. We know they’re open-minded and pragmatic …

But, what’s it going to take to get them to open their wallets for your brand?

Thanks to our relationship with GlobalWebIndex, an innovative and leading market research SaaS company we at The Brandon Agency have been able to gather some insightful data on Generation Z, whose birth years fall around the late 1990s to mid 2010s. Here, we explore what Gen Z actually wants from its brands compared to other consumer segments.

A few things we know about Gen Z

They’re creatively expressive, ambitious, and have a healthy hedonistic existence.

High-life social media profiles that Millennials once flocked to don’t catch Gen Z’s attention. reports 80% are likely to trust brands if their social images are raw and natural – not staged and photoshopped. In other words, they appreciate authenticity.

Some people who find themselves in that gray area between Generation Z and Millennials identify more with the newer mindset. Kirby Altman, Marketing and Production Manager at The Brandon Agency, is one of them.

“I definitely agree with the Gen Z attitude of being competitive and ambitious,” Altman said. “I tend to challenge myself, try to learn new skills, contribute to my community and I have a very positive attitude.”

The Gen Z mindset calls for a shift in marketing. Understanding this mindset and how to tap into Gen Z’s wants and needs is critical to your brand’s success with them.

Attitudes: Ready to pave their own way

Gen Zs, like most any generation on the cusp of adulthood, aren’t short on ambition. They’re ready to conquer, not in a Napoleon way, but in an environmentally conscious way. GWI asked Generation Z members which statements best describe them.

Their answers reveal a desire for justice, an interest in the world around them, and a propensity to take risks. Here’s how Gen Z sees themselves.

1. Equality and awareness

  • I believe all people should have equal rights: 60%
  • I like to explore the world: 55%
  • I like to know what is going on in the world: 51%
  • I am interested in other cultures/countries: 49%

Coming of age during a period of civil upheaval has impacted Gen Z. At 60%, an interest in equality topped the list of 10 statements asked about in the GWI poll. More than half expressed an interest in the world around them – and a hope to see it for themselves.

Haywood Brandon is an Account Manager at The Brandon Agency. Equality is important to him, but he doesn’t necessarily see it as exclusive to his generation.

“Modern digital technology and social media allow us to express ourselves more, so we’re able to hear more voices now that everyone has a platform to speak,” Brandon said. “So it might appear that Gen Z cares more, but I can’t exactly say that’s the truth because past generations didn’t necessarily have the same playing field.”

Brandon relates to the yearning to see more of the world that marks Gen Z, also. He’s seen some really cool places, he says – Alaska, Aspen, the Florida Keys, Isla Mujeres.

“I have been blessed,” Brandon said. “I love outdoor adventures and there’s no doubt I’d love to see the volcanoes in Hawaii and the plains in the midwest. I am not one to want to travel internationally, especially since the COVID situation.”

2. What Gen Z does

  • I take care of my appearance: 47%
  • I like to be the first to try new things: 39%
  • I take risks: 34%

Selfies and TikToks? Yes. Filters and flexes? Not so much. Gen Z wants to look good. They just don’t use electronic cosmetics to do it. A good percentage of those questioned revealed a risk-taking side, an itch to take a chance.

Lizzie Gustafson is a Media Coordinator at The Brandon Agency. She identifies with the risk-taker side of Gen Z in most aspects of life.

“I’m not scared to try new things, and most times I end up really enjoying them,” Gustafson said. “I haven’t taken any major career risks yet although I am not opposed to it.”

That’s because she’s taken a few risks in her leisure time already.

Gustafson began hunting in fall 2019 after going on a few deer hunts the year before. Unlicensed, she observed, rather than take part. But hunting intrigued her.

“The funny part about my hunting background is that there is not one,” said Gustafson. She grew up in a suburban Maryland town, where, as she says, “no one owns any camo.”

It highlighted ideological differences in her hometown and South Carolina, her college home. “A friend group introduced me to ways of having fun that I had not experienced: hunting,” she said.

She drove 8 hours to Maryland for the in-person test so that she could hunt by deer season.

“I ended up killing my first deer that year, which is an experience I will never forget,” she said. “Now I hunt any chance I can.”

3. What Gen Z feels

  • I am comfortable talking about mental health: 33%
  • I am prone to anxiety: 29%
  • I feel overworked: 18%

Despite a prevalence of go-getter attitude and belief they can change the world, there’s a tougher side to the generation that they’re dealing with. Those prone to anxiety and who feel overworked were the lowest percentage, but the numbers were still significant and revealing.

If 3 in 10 feel anxious and 1 in 5 overworked, there’s positivity in another number: 1 in 3 are okay talking about what goes on inside.

According to the American Psychological Association, 91% of Gen Z adults said they’ve experienced at least one emotional or physical symptom because of stress. These include:

  • Feeling depressed or sad: 58%
  • Lacking interest, motivation, or energy: 55%

Half of Gen Zs feel they do enough to manage stress, according to the data. Gen Zs are likely to look out for their comrades, too. Altman is happy to be that someone a friend can talk to.

“I would say that I have good mental health, but I am always there for my friends with words of affirmation and a shoulder to lean on if they are experiencing any issues,” Altman said.

Outlooks: Gen Z is competitive and enterprising

How does Gen Z measure success? No doubt about it: All that ambition leads to tangible measures of it. Generation Z is less concerned about collecting wealth and its symbols, and more about self-improvement and green living.

These 10 statements reveal what’s important to Gen Z, from having a positive attitude to how they stand out in a crowd.

1. Onward and upward

  • Having a positive attitude: 65%
  • Being successful: 64%
  • Learning new skills: 63%
  • Challenging myself: 50%
  • Helping the environment: 48%

It all starts with attitude. This go-getter generation distinguishes itself from others by its sunnier outlook. As mentioned, this could be a product of just venturing out on their own. They seem to have an appreciation of self-improvement (and of the world they live in).

Brianna Young is a Social Media Associate at The Brandon Agency. She says life itself causes enough reason for getting better at things.

“I would say a lot of life curveballs will happen and end up causing me to self-improve,” Young said. “In terms of self-care, I feel like I do that all the time whether it’s ordering food from a place I like or working out.”

2. What Gen Z leans on

  • Feeling accepted by others: 40%
  • My faith/spirituality: 40%
  • Helping others before myself: 38%
  • Contributing to my community: 37%

Driven as they are, Generation Z wants to be loved – for who they are. Guided by faith and spurred to contribute to the community, Gen Z values those traits in the brands they patronize, too. But it must be genuine – alignment with a brand says much about who they are.

“I don’t like brands that I feel are ‘corporate’ where they have weeded out the founders of the companies and big whigs are just looking to make a dollar off some sort of political or social instance in pop culture,” said Brandon, who included brands such as GoRuck, Mossy Oak, Orvis, and Rogue among those who get it right.

3. Gen Z wants to be seen, too

  • Standing out in a crowd: 27%

Although this statement garnered the lowest percentage of positive responses, and far below the next up on the list (contributing to my community, 37%), it’s still substantial: 3 in 10 want to make their own mark. This is where exclusivity becomes such a force in marketing to them.

“I feel like Gen Zs seek more attention than millennials, at least in the virtual world,” Gustafson said. “I have many friends who are very vocal online and attempt to stand out by being the first to follow a new trend. Personally, I am indifferent, but maybe that’s because I’m on the older half of Gen Z.”

Gustafson, age 22, makes a good point. With a range of age 8 to 23, there’s room for an array of perspectives, especially with those born in the late 1990s starting careers and families, while their younger counterparts are still in elementary school.

How can The Brandon Agency help with Gen Z marketing?

The Brandon Agency specializes in reaching specific audiences for its clients, with data and cutting-edge technology, With intuitive, creative, and innovative teams on hand, we help our clients develop messages that resonate with the demographics needed to drive growth.

“The Brandon Agency does a good job of knowing our clients’ niche and the stand-out thing that makes them different from their competitors,” Young said. “And, if we don’t, we typically have them do focus groups or other research, which helps get consumer insights – so I think we have that part handled in our clients’ messaging.”

Altman agrees.

“I would say we do a great job,” she said. “We have great insights into GenZ behaviors and are able to reach them in unique ways.”

Reach out today – we’d love to discuss your challenges and hopes, and work to find solutions for your business.


American Psychological Association