In this week’s roundup we take a look at how Gen Z is challenging gender roles. There is resistance against traditional male/female definitions coming from millennial parents, and young consumers themselves as they redefine what it means to be an individual and craft a definition where gender is not a qualifier. Brands are becoming aware of this trend and adjusting their segmentation and messaging accordingly. For example, this week, makeup giant CoverGirl announced its first ever male spokesperson, a move that not only positions the brand as progressive, but also enables them to target a segment that is being neglected by the other drugstore makeup brands. We also take a look at GoldieBlox, a brand that wants girls assume the roles of engineers and creators, rather than enthusiastic consumers.
But more excitingly, this roundup marks the start of our new feature: From the Desk of…where our very own yconic thought leaders share their opinions on the latest Gen Y and Gen Z news and trends.
Gen Z Gender Roles
Gender perception among Gen Z is changing. A survey from The Innovation Group, as reported by J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, found the “gender binary” is less relevant for the younger generation. Over a third of Gen Z respondents strongly agreed gender did not define a person as much as it used to, compared to 27 percent of Millennials.
This also affects the way Gen Z shops —only 44 percent said they always bought clothes designed for their own gender versus 54 percent of Millennials. For products such as shoes, clothes, deodorant, fragrance and sporting equipment Millennials were universally more inclined than Gen Z to buy products geared to their gender, particularly in the shoe category where 57 percent of Millennials reported buying gender specific shoes compared to only 39 percent of Gen Z.
Retailers looking to connect with Gen Z should consider evolving their approach. For a very earnest opinion on this subject, watch this 8 year old shopping for clothes:
Not everyone thinks that all girls should be just pretty. GoldieBlox wants girls to think outside the box and is creating toys that spark interest in engineering and problem solving. The toy maker has reached out to young girls and their moms, by inspiring them through “Toy Hackers,” a video series on YouTube. Last month they featured DIY and this month they will feature YouTube personalities. The brand is aware of the fact that social is only driving brand awareness; to close the cycle and convert, they have employed a targeted email campaign. Inspiring content is still at the center of their efforts. On Facebook and Instagram, the brand features inspirational quotes and personalities. Through email, they offer parents coupons, discounts and other special offers.
This strategy has been successful thus far. The reason? They have crafted a message that resonates with Gen Z kids and their millennial parents. Millennials, as a cohort, are idealistic and seek to be inspired and delighted by brands. Gen Z-ers want to be defined by their ambitions, rather than their gender. (DigiDay)
Outdoor brand Patagonia is not making gender a part of their conversation. Gender is absent in their messaging and product design. Instead they are focusing on sustainability. Vincent Stanley, the brand’s director of philosophy, says that their customer mix is split more or less evenly between men and women. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, their male customers are making purchases for themselves. This is proof that younger consumers are more likely to be persuaded by the values of a company or brand and the quality of the product. A 2015 Nielsen study found that 72 percent of millennials “were willing to pay more for purchases from companies with a strong environmental and social ethic.” It can be argued that what differentiates Gen Y and Gen Z as consumers is that they purchase from brands that reinforce their identity, rather than consuming brands to form an aspired identity. (Outside Online)
Speaking of progressive, this week, drugstore makeup brand CoverGirl announced its latest face: a “non-celebrity” boy, James Charles, a 17 year old high school student and makeup aficionado. While not a celebrity, James Charles, is a social media influencer, boasting 600,000 Instagram followers and 80,000 subscribers on YouTube. He is the latest of spokespeople representing brands that traditionally cater to their opposite sex. He joins the ranks of Jaden Smith, and rapper Young Thug. This is a smart move for the brand, since there are not a lot of mainstream brands are openly targeting this niche community. (New York Post)