Gen Z consumers construct identities through Apple, Topshop and...Tesco

A consumer's favourite brands are often highly reflective of how they see themselves, and the companies young Brits feel the most affinity with include Apple, Converse, the Premier League and even Nando's and Tesco.

They use so many different brands in each category so it is hard to pinpoint their loyalty to one brand or another - it is really hard to market to them

A study from communications agency 3 Monkeys Zeno, called The Human Project, has examined the brand preferences of those aged between 14 and 20 years old.

This is the generation behind the millennials, defined by Zeno as  "Gen WE" (14 to 20 years old) and "Gen Z" (21 to 25 years old).  

These groups are more self-aware, success-driven, socially-responsible and globally-minded than any generation before them, the report claims.

They also place a huge emphasis on shared values and look at brands that portray "trust, honesty and loyalty".

Brands that are successful in engaging this generation tell the brand  story in a way that is relatable this group.

UK vs global brands

There is a divide between the brands young people engage with on a global scale, versus in the UK.

At home, the list of most engaging brands for the young includes Urban Outfitters, Freederm and Topshop.

On a global basis, the list includes Playstation, Dove, Levi’s,  Lululemon and Tesco among others. The inclusion of Tesco is something of a surprise, since the supermarket is currently in the process of a turnaround after its accounting scandal.

Apple, Samsung and Nike appear across both lists, perhaps unsurprisingly.

Despite examining groups by age, Therese Caruso, managing director of global strategy and insights for Zeno Group, said she is sceptical about marketing to 'demographics' and 'generations' as it is difficult "to put any one person or any one group of people into a box."

"We look at it based on values and the core values that drive groups of people to do the things they do and choose the things they do," she said.

Brand identification

Gen Y use brands almost like a badge of honour

These young people have been brought up in a different way by their parents and than previous generations and are more practical about the world around them, Caruso argues.

"In terms of brands the biggest truth we found is that they seek out brands and build on their own personal brands," she said.

"We found that they use brands really differently than millennials. Gen Y (millennials) use brands almost like a badge of honour and they love brands.

"The younger generation loves brands too but they love what a brand offers them as a solution."

She cites the example of fashion brands as Gen WE and Gen Z will ask the question ‘What are you going to do for me that is going to help me look the way I want?"

Caruso admits that brand loyalty is more difficult with this age group than millennials as they are more focused on their own brand.  

"They use so many different brands in each category so it is hard to pinpoint their loyalty to one brand or another. It is really hard to market to them".

She advises brands attempting to focus on this group to earn loyalty by understanding their mind set and personal goals.

The study, conducted in partnership with global trend forecaster CEB Iconoculture, gathered data from more than 5,000 individuals in the United States, Canada, China, India, Australia and the United Kingdom.

The UK List (in no order)






Urban Outfitters




The Global List (in no order)










Lulu Lemon


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