Analysis of brands by generation yields relevance lessons

GenZ brands dominate Global 100 in value and recent growth

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Isaac Newton
Martin Guerrieria
Global BrandZ™ Research Director
Kantar
Martin.Guerrieria@kantar.com

Newton’s famous quote rightly suggests there is much to be learned from using the past as a springboard for future success. However, given the inexorable march of technology and its impact on consumer needs and expectations; in the world of brands there is also much the old can learn from the new in the quest to adapt, modernize, and sustain success.

BrandZ™ has been gathering consumer data for over 20 years and during that period an entirely new generation of person has emerged. GenZ, whose members are also known as Centennials, first appeared in 1996. Applying the commonly recognized generational designations to brands in the 2019 BrandZ™ Global Top 100, we find that brands are fairly evenly distributed by age among GenZ (1996-to-present), Millennials (1977-to-1995), GenX (1965-to-1976), Boomers (1946-to-1964), and Traditionalists (pre-1946).

Analysis revealed that brands—like people— are shaped by generational characteristics. For example, they differ in personality traits, brand equity, and ability to build and sustain trust. Understanding brands in the context of their generational influences can yield useful insights about about how to establish and retain consumer relevance.

GenZ brands dominate

When considering the distribution of Top 100 value by generation we see the greatest proportions at the two chronological extremes. Traditionalist brands account for an impressive 25 percent of the total value, suggesting they retain a great deal of influence today despite an average age of a more-than-elderly 127. However, at the other end of the scale there is an even more dominant group, the GenZ brands. These brands were founded on average only 16 years ago, but they comprise almost a quarter of all brands in the ranking and account for a sizeable 34 percent of the total value. Quite an achievement for a group of teenagers!

The progress and potential of GenZ brands is even more striking, however, when considering recent rates of brand value growth. In the last year alone, these brands have grown in brand value by a colossal 21 percent, outstripping the next highest group (Millennials) by a factor of nearly three. In contrast, the growth rate of Traditionalists is beginning to wane, and these brands are the only group whose brand value declined over the last 12 months. So, what defines these generations of brands and how do consumers perceive them to be different from each other?

Personality

Interestingly the personality of each group is different and even seems to match some of the human personality traits we may naturally associate with each generation. Where Traditionalist and Baby Boomer brands are particularly trustworthy, wise, straightforward and friendly, GenX and Millennial brands are defined by their creativity, a trait they share with GenZ brands—also defined by the dash of adventure and rebellion, which we often associate with youth.

Brand Equity
Digging deeper into the specifics of brand equity, two groups set themselves apart—GenZ and Baby Boomer brands. Though all five generation groups are strong in equity terms versus typical brands (they are in the Global Top 100 after all), Baby Boomer and GenZ members excel in all three of the key building blocks of brand equity: Meaning (meeting needs in a relevant way), Difference (standing apart and leading), and Salience (coming to mind easily at the time of need). In particular they have the ability to meet rational needs and make an emotional connection with consumers, and they have high levels of Salience. Both groups have clear potential to grow further in the future.

Building Meaning and Relevance

Interestingly, the way these groups derive such strong meaning to consumers seems to follow two different paths. Whereas Boomer brands have established strong trust credentials over a long period of time, insulating them from more recent competitive disruptions, GenZ brands bring innovation, dynamism, excitement, and immediacy to cater for a new generation of consumer needs. Interestingly, both generations of brands are the next best performers in the other group’s main areas of strength. Compared with Millennial, GenX and Traditionalist brands, Boomer brands are more dynamic, innovative, and disruptive. Walmart (founded in 1962) is a good example of a modernizing Boomer. It continues to grow brand value and defend against the threat of Amazon by investing at scale in technology.

On the flip side, the most successful GenZ brands have built strong trust credentials very quickly with reliability of service and seamless experience delivery. GenZ brands like PayPal (founded 1998), Netflix (founded 1997) and Google (founded 1998) are among the most trusted brands in the BrandZ™ Global Top 100. (Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, certainly understands the need for emerging brands to establish their trust credentials quickly: “For e-commerce, the most important thing is trust. Put the customers first, the employees second, and the shareholders third.”)

BrandZ™ Global Top 100 can be classified by social generations… … GenZ brands dominate in value generated…

Our BrandZ™ analysis of the Global Top 100 revealed that brands—like people—are shaped by generational characteristics. GenZ brands were founded on average only 16 years ago, but they comprise almost a quarter of all brands in the ranking and account for a sizeable 34 percent of the total value.

Brand implications

This analysis indicates that to establish and retain relevance, brands should consider two elements. These elements are: The need to build a solid foundation of trust and reliability, plus an ability to meet emerging needs via the flexibility of mindset required to adapt, innovate, and ultimately embrace change. So, what can your brand learn from predecessors, peers, and newcomers to maintain relevance for generations to come? Whose metaphorical shoulders is your brand standing on?

Social Generations

Our BrandZ™ analysis of the Global Top 100 revealed that brands—like people—are shaped by generational characteristics.

… GenZ brands dominate in value generated…

GenZ brands were founded on average only 16 years ago, but
they comprise almost a quarter of all brands in the ranking and
account for a sizeable 34 percent of the total value.

... And GenZ brands are currently
growing fastest year-on-year

GenZ brands grew in brand value by a
colossal 21 percent in the past 12 months,
outstripping the next highest group
(Millennials) by a factor of nearly three.

Value Growth

Brand personalities vary by generation…

Where Traditionalist and Baby Boomer brands are particularly trustworthy, wise,
straightforward and friendly, GenX and Millennial brands are defined by their
creativity, a trait they share with GenZ brands

Generation and Personality

… Boomer and GenZ brands lead in BrandZ™ brand equity metrics….

Two generations of groups set themselves apart—GenZ and Baby Boomers. Baby Boomer and GenZ
brands excel in all three of the key building blocks of brand equity: Meaning, Difference, and Salience.

Boomer and GenZ | Brand Equity

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