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Why Gen Z and Web3 will mean consumers control branding

Did you know that Gen Z is the largest, most diverse and most geographically untethered cohort in history, making up 40% of all global consumers and holding earnings of about $7 trillion. In fact, by 2031, Gen Zers’ income will reach $33 trillion, surpassing that of millennials.

Naturally, each generation has sought to mould the world in its image but within this cohort, people value radically different things, at different times, from different sources presenting a challenge for brands to market on a wide scale. In the 1960s, there were only a few channels for people to consume media so the likelihood that young people were into the Beatles and/or the Stones was likely. Now, as Gen Zers, we receive media from various channels and are also more multicultural. So for myself as a mixed British-Latina from London in her early 20s might listen to Kali Uchis, Rosalia and Jorja Smith but someone who grew up on my road in the same year and who also makes music but is white British and has a love for rap may favour Kid Cudi and underground east London rap and lofi beats. We are from the same world but consume very different universes of media.

This means that as Gen Z continues to amass economic and cultural influence, brands must decide which unique interest points and needs to focus on to build trust, community and achieve impact with their target users. Above all, to win with Gen Z, brands must be willing to share—share their brand, share their resources and share their future. Sharing is about co-creating a continuous value exchange for both parties; at its best, sharing engages Gen Zers in shaping what the brand means to them, while the brand itself grows into something new. 

The desire for consumers to share in brand building will only increase with the growth of Web3 which will see fans invest in the work and career of brands and artists alike. In the very near future, consumers will want a say and share in how a brand communicates specific values. Through this new definition, firms can create novel relationships, customer experiences and wholly new product categories, as well as avoid costly market missteps.

Furthermore, Gen Zers are hyperconnected individuals, inherently comfortable expressing themselves through digital creative tools. Valuing creativity is a core belief among many of them. Gen Zers believe they’re more creative than previous generations, and they uniquely describe creative pursuits as essential, meaning they don’t see creativity as a side outlet but rather a core attribute of daily life. In the digital age, creative expression is seen as vital to successful relationship-building, self-realisation and, increasingly, the ability to make a living. This creative emphasis fuels Gen Z’s distinct desire to share and be involved with the brands they interact with at all levels.

As always, authenticity is key. Sharing your brand at all levels means your brand is less a finished, perfectly defined character and more of a growing co-star, supporting youth in their own ambitions and individual purposes. You’ll need to think of co-creation as an ongoing process for Gen Zers to help shape your brand offerings around their own goals. So, while your own brand purpose will certainly be critical to growth, so too will providing tools and opportunities to Gen Zers that allow them to make their own purposes known to the world.

Brands need to design thoughtful, engaging and creative opportunities that encourage shared ideation and longer-term partnerships for their community members. And business leaders must grow comfortable co-creating and giving up complete ownership to gain the next—and largest—generation of potential new users. 

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