Born at the same time that social networks and online retail giants came into existence, Generation Z is uncompromising when it comes to what it expects of fashion and beauty brands, demanding commitment to environmental, political and societal issues. But its behaviour may be quite confusing.
“A shock of stealth”
According to Éric Briones, co-founder of the Paris School of Luxury, and author of the books "Le choc Z" and "Luxe et résilience," there is a side to this generation that is difficult to read, and it is full of paradoxes. “In terms of marketing targets, Generation Z doesn’t fit neatly into the boxes, if only because it can’t stand the stereotypes,” he said.
For example, they are totally averse to the notion of gender, whereas the basis of marketing has always been to separate men and women.
“Shock of indignation”
The Gen Z also submits the brands to a real “shock of indignation”, especially on social networks. With a generation that is totally comfortable with social network, clothes and cosmetics have, in a way, become political items.
As a result, according to Éric Briones, “the status of the luxury object has changed, because members of Generation Z are much more demanding with brands than with themselves.” Luxury objects would thus have become the manifesto of their commitment, the banner of their values. “And these values must be seen. It’s a generation that is highly visually oriented.”
Yet, what this generation is claiming may sometimes seem at odds with its purchasing behaviour. For instance, this is a generation that claims to be environmentally committed and requires brands to be faultless on ecological issues, but continues to turn to fast fashion.
According to Éric Briones, members of the Gen Z are “more active in their demands than in concrete actions.” However, brands are listening to them and are changing their ways to make business, because “they are fearful of this power of indignation, and afraid of the power to boycott and censor.”
Members of the Generation Z are also those who have fully experienced the growth of e-commerce and they have extremely high expectations regarding how to sell, communicate about, and deliver a product.
180% of growth in luxury
The interest of brands in this generation stems from its key role in future growth. Economically, Gen Z is extremely powerful in the US and China, less so in Europe because of austerity policies in much countries. Millennials and Gen Z account for 180% of growth in luxury between now and 2025.
“Millennials have become the bosses of luxury, the top customers, but the Gen Zers are right behind, especially in China. Furthermore, if your brand is not desirable to youth, parents aren’t interested either, because youth rules,” concluded Éric Briones.