Stop, Collaborate & Listen

In this edition of The Briefing, we explore next gen creativity and the power of collaboration between brave brands and Gen-Z. Thanks to Rowena and Amber for these contributions.

Dalziel & Pow
By Dalziel & Pow
Posted 18. 04. 2024
Cover The Briefing Next Gen Consumerism 007


“Gen-Z will become the creative lifeblood for the brands they choose to back.”

For the latest edition of The Briefing, we’re doing something different. In the spirit of our subject, D&P’s Creative Strategists, Rowena and Amber, have co-authored this release to explore first-hand how collective minds bring fresh perspectives.

Setting the scene

Responding to a younger generation who are physically disconnected from one another and yet exceptionally creative, brave brands are entering an era of co-creation, harnessing Gen-Z’s imagination and entrepreneurial spirit to build a more mutually beneficial relationship and greater community connections.

Youth culture is becoming more dynamic and divergent than ever before…

Exposed to the powers and perils of the digital world, they are capable of processing constant streams of information in real-time, whilst seamlessly transitioning between online and offline. This mode of existence is contributing to increasing social polarisation.

Raised on a steady stream of inspiration, memes, influencers, and microtrends, Gen Z's appetite for novelty presents a challenge for brands seeking to engage with them. Vogue Business states that “80% of Gen Zs agree that they are exposed to more brands and advertising than any other generation”, however “71% say they are ‘always open to discovering new brands’”. So how can brands cut through the noise?

We’ve identified three key strategies:

1. Evolve the lingo

With a generation who value reciprocity and seek outlets for self-expression, forward-thinking brands are being more outspoken, more vulnerable and adopting a distinct tone of voice that resonates with their diverse audiences.

2. Remix culture

Mirroring the stratified landscape of content consumed by young people, brands are blurring the line between brand and customer by adopting a more creative and collaborative approach to be more culturally relevant.

3. Community over clout

Gone are the days of brands acting as purveyors of products for passive consumption. To create meaning beyond purchase, and stay relevant and respected amongst youth consumers today, brands can add value via community experiences and initiatives.

Evolve the lingo

Younger generations are battling the Millennial legacy of ‘hyper-curated perfectionism’ by taking a more down-to-earth approach that allows them to express their true self. Constantly battling between conformity to fit in with friends, and breaking monotony to express individualism, they are on the hunt for unconventional yet authentic brands.

Say goodbye to traditional tropes of demographic segmentation. Blanket indicators including age and gender are now secondary to more nuanced indicators for young consumers. One size no longer fits all, and unless brands start actively unpacking and understanding individual influences, interests, identities, and cultural differences, they will fall short in engaging with this powerful consumer cohort.

Rowena’s take: Brand experiences need to adopt a more reciprocal approach with their younger audiences. Be more DIY, more conversational, and less serious. Luxury eyewear brand Gentle Monster is a disruptive example of this - by communicating their brand narrative through immersive storytelling and theatrical installations they create surprising moments that speak to their consumers in a highly-memorable way.

Amber’s take: Brands should avoid making assumptions based on marketeers predictions. Retail spaces need to embody a sense of place and resonate culturally with their young audiences. As seen in Tory Burch’s LA pop-up, collaborating with local artists is a powerful way to communicate through playful motifs. Additionally, Selfridges Corner Shop uses slapstick humour to tap into Gen Zs obsession with comedic online content.

Gentle Monster Marina Bay Sands
Gentle Monster © Harpers Bazaar

Gentle Monster’s Marina Bay Sands store houses unusual kinetic sculptures that tell provocative stories with great authority.

Whiny Baby
© Whiny Baby

Whiny Baby new-era Californian wine brand adopts a hyper-stylised aesthetic, complete with bottle neck charms, to help customers who are overwhelmed by choice to shop by occasion.

Tory Burch LA
© Tory Burch

Tory Burch collaborated with German photographer Walter Schels to clad the interior of this pop-up shop with an exhibition-style game of cat and mouse and luxe shag finishes.

Selfridges Corner Shop
© Selfridges Corner Shop

Selfridges Corner Shop slapstick slogans give them a confident edge

Remix culture

Typically an approach synonymous with music production, remixing is considered ‘one of the most important art forms in contemporary culture’ according to VICE. From provocative TikTok edits to mashups of archival favourites by luxury fashion houses like Louis Vuitton, remix culture today is emerging in unexpected places and capturing the minds and spending power of Gen Z.

Remixing can be interpreted as a symbol of cultural blending, creative collaboration, and convergence of old and new. It takes an experimental approach, creating a definitive but iterative canvas for multiple collaborators to incrementally collage stories on top of one another to create a new meaning.

For brands, this means building a platform for their young decision-makers to become curators, whether that be steering product development or creating user-generated content that drives campaigns. Ultimately, by blurring the line between brand and consumer, brands can enter into a shared creative realm which fosters collectivity, innovative forms of expression, and constant evolution.

Rowena’s take: Embodying the creative and collaborative spirit of Gen Z, brands are adopting a more layered, editorial approach. From Diesel’s irreverent cut-and-paste artwork, to mix and match finishes in big. Beauty’s circular store, brands are blending ideas and stories to mimic the content consumed by younger audiences. Additionally, Louis Vuitton’s Remix Collection merges a nostalgic Y2K aesthetic with a contemporary flair to provide new meaning to its archival products.

Diesel Paris
Diesel © Maxime Bessieres

Diesel’s latest store located on the prestigious Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris, embodies the alternative spirit of the brand by pasting editorial cuttings across feature walls.

Big Beauty Hackney
© Anna Batchelor

Big concept store layers recycled materials to build a narrative around sustainability.

LV Remix
© Louis Vuitton

LV Remix Collection reimagines its archival collection in a contemporary context.

Other Stories ION Orchard
© & Other Stories

& Other Stories’ ION Orchard store gives insight into the brands creative process and inspiration using moodboard style pin-ups.

Community over clout

Coming of age during the rise of AI, the metaverse, and Web3, ‘digitally native’ Gen Zers are the most connected generation yet; simultaneously moving across channels to socialise and shop. However, being hyperconnected in the virtual world has resulted in social disconnection in the physical (the WHO recently declared loneliness a pressing global health threat), driving a desire and need for IRL collective engagement. Stylus evidenced this further, declaring that, “globally, 95% of Gen Zers value in-person meet-ups with friends over online socialising.”

Navigating this paradox, brands are creating meaningful spaces and experiences centered around fostering human connection and a sense of belonging. Speaking to the collaborative, community mindset of youth consumers today, this approach acts as a mutually beneficial invitation to for consumers and brands to connect, learn, and share from one another, in an authentic way that aligns with values and needs.

Brands with a physical presence have an opportunity to cultivate a community and connect with consumers on a deeper level. Within and beyond their four walls, locations are becoming ‘third spaces’; a meeting and focal point for community initiatives that offer customers something beyond products & purchase, and which simultaneously emanate the brand’s essence and values.

Amber’s take: On-the-pulse lifestyle brands such as Hoka and On are capitalising on the Gen Z 'run-mania' trend by hosting free weekly run clubs from their stores and partnering with local grassroots collectives. There’s a big opportunity for brands to communicate these community initiatives across touchpoints, offering an invitation and entry point into the brand world that adds value to consumers' lives beyond products. Further to this, they generate talkability
and open the door for partnership opportunities and product sampling.

Hoka Friendly Runners
Hoka Run Logo
Stolt x ON Running
© On x Stolt

Hoka and On host free weekly run clubs from their stores and partner with local running groups. Customers are invited to meet in store to get fitted in the latest running gear before completing a communal run.

IKEA Hyderabad
IKEA Hyderabad2

In 2023, IKEA Hyderabad introduced interactive workshops and home furnishing seminars in-store, engaging customers and offering them valuable insights into home decoration.

Nowsee © Chao Zhang
Nowsee © Chao Zhang

Nowsee is a community-based commercial space located in Huizhou City, China. Integrating retail, art exhibitions, and child-friendly seating, it provides a destination for pausing, gathering and exploring.

Top takeouts:

  1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes - authenticity and relatability are key.

  2. Encourage active participation in shaping the brand to bolster creativity.

  3. Build purposeful platforms IRL that drive long-term community engagement.

See more of our regular 'Briefings' here - https://bit.ly/3rylWGs

Let us know below what you think and get in touch if you want a further breakdown of any specific trend at hello@dalziel-pow.com

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