Gen Z Food & CPG-Case Studies
Oreo has had campaigns targeted at Gen Z through the use of social media, TV, music, partnerships and the constant introduction of new flavors, making them the top food brand and the most trusted brand among Gen Z'ers. Coca-Cola has had a variety of campaigns targeted at Gen Z'ers, including the "Share a Coke" campaign, the "What's In a Name" campaign, and the "One Last Summer" docuseries, among others, which have garnered major success on social media and led more Gen Z'ers to interact with the brand.
- Oreo is a cookie made of chocolate wafers and cream filling. The company has been popular in America for more than 100 years, and has sold over 362 billion cookies since 1912.
- Oreo has been successful with Gen Z and continues to be successful due to a number of campaigns targeted at this generation. Oreo's rebirth aimed at the youth started in 2012 with a 100-day social campaign known as 'Daily Twist' to celebrate their 100th birthday. The cookie appeared daily in different situations to remember cultural milestones during the 100 years, including Elvis week, Mars rover landing and a rainbow Oreo with six layers to celebrate Pride month.
- Oreo also released the Twist, Lick, Dunk mobile application where users were able to simulate the cookie experience, win or buy virtual money and buy new flavors. This game was number one in over 15 countries, won media awards and made money.
- In 2013 during Super Bowl XLVII, the power went out for 34 minutes during a game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. Oreo capitalized on this by putting out a tweet that got the brand buzzed about by the viewing audience.
- Oreo also constantly releases new flavors, creating different twists to a cookie that people already love. It has made Gen Z'ers feel a sense of ownership in the brand through the #MyOREOCreation contest, where they submit and vote on new ideas for flavors, and those that are most popular get adopted. They have introduced weird new flavors such as Marshmallow Moon, Swedish Fish and Candy Corn. In addition, they have partnered on ice-cream inspired versions with Baskin Robbins and Good Humor. They tease their new releases on social media to create buzz and get the media's attention.
- In the recent past, Oreo uses its cookies to commemorate holidays and historical occasions such as The final season of Game of Thrones, Fourth of July, and the Marshmallow moon cookie for the Apollo 11 moon landing's 50th anniversary.
- Oreo has also capitalized on Gen Zs’ love for music. In Christmas of 2018, they introduced the Oreo Music Box which generated music from cookies, and afterwards the DJ Mixer, which allowed users to make music and had over 200 music combinations depending on the amount of cookie left on the deck. In a campaign known as ‘Stay Playful’, Oreo partnered with Wiz Khalifa to produce a track dedicated to Oreo.
- Appealing to Gen Z's love for social media and ephemeral marketing, Oreo let Snapchat users turn themselves into Oreos using a Snap code on 134 million packs in Europe. They also had a campaign known as "Oreo people: show your playful side" campaign, where users got a unique experience through digital “Oreoji” stickers and augmented reality (AR) lenses.
- Oreo also capitalized on Gen Z's love for pop culture, particularly the HBO series, Game of Thrones. They released limited edition cookies featuring the crests of "House Lannister, House Targaryen, House Stark, and the Night King." They also hired the firm that produced the opening credits for Game of Thrones and created an identical version of the opening credits using 2,750 stacking Oreos.
- Oreo's success with Gen Z is evident as it is Gen Z's favorite food brand according to research done by the Business Insider, Adweek, Y Pulse, Morning Consult Brand Intelligence and The Opinionator, among others. It is also the most trusted brand among Gen Z, according to a survey done by Y Pulse.
- Coca-Cola is a total beverage company with over 500 brands under its name to date, including the Coca-Cola drink. Among Gen Z'ers, the brand is associated with "good times and ‘positivity."
- Coca-Cola has been able to attract Gen Z'ers with its "Share a Coke"campaign, where cans and bottles were personalized with names from different regions around the world. The campaign has been going on for five years and in its latest iteration, consumers can buy customized Coke bottles as well as postcards to download or share via social media. They also introduced the Share Chair, "an oversized armchair placed at out-of-home events throughout the summer, that doubles as a vending machine." People sit together on the chair, it dispenses personalized mini cans, and the moment is captured with a camera. In this way, Coca-Cola encourages customers to share their experiences on social media and create conversation around the brand.
- Gen Z'ers are attracted to brands that resonate with them personally. In addition to the Share a Coke campaign which capitalized on this, Coca-Cola partnered with ICUC, Google, Clear Channel Outdoor and Posterscope on the What's In a Name campaign. They developed a website where users could input their names and discover trivia and fun facts related to their name. In addition, they enabled Time Square Visitors to tweet their first names using the hashtag #CokeMyName and see personalized stories about their names broadcast on a billboard.
- The What's In a Name campaign was very successful, generating over 350 million impressions and being mentioned in more than 110 countries. It made use of the fact that Gen Z consumers are "addicted to their smartphones, using them primarily for social media and taking photos; are eager to interact with brands and expect much more from advertising than predecessors, and they are very narcissistic, wanting to be famous so they can share it on social media."
- They have had endorsements from Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift, who are Gen Z favorites. In 2016, the most liked photo in the history of Instagram, with over 5 million likes, was a selfie of Selena Gomez drinking Coca-Cola. Selena Gomez was also the most-followed celebrity on Instagram at the time. The success that Coca-Cola was able to achieve from this picture is due to Gen Z's celebrity-obsessed culture.
- Coca-Cola is releasing several drinks in a bid to attract and engage Gen Z'ers. They are focused on convenience retail stores, which Gen Z make 7.8 trips to per month (51% of which involve a beverage purchase), to showcase their variety. Their new drinks include Far Coast Cold Brew Coffee, Minute Maid Tomato Juice Blend, Smartwater alkaline, smartwater antioxidant. They also plan to release a CBD wellness drink to help get rid of the cannabis-related stigma in the U.S.
- Coke's "One Last Summer" docuseries also directly targets Gen Z'ers, highlighting the transition from high school to college. The docuseries appeals to the fact that Gen Z consumers "expect brands to help them meet their goals and live out their true identities". The docuseries does not feature actors, and this authenticity is also expected to resonate with Gen Z'ers.
- In 2018, the “Dear Future [Community] Challenge” was launched by Coca-Cola, inviting young millennials and Gen Z'ers to improve their communities. There was a national competition for individuals aged 18 to 24 to "submit proposals on how to strengthen their areas". The winners would receive a $30,000 grant from Coca-Cola as well as the necessary support and guidance. This challenge appeals to Gen Z'ers need to "be involved in brands’ CSR efforts in a variety of ways from volunteering, to donating or signing a petition to help an important cause".
- Coca-Cola also recognizes the fact that Gen-Z is more health conscious and the traditional sodas do not cut it with them. They are, therefore, venturing into the healthy beverage and coffee market. An example is a vegetable juice that is being added to the lineup of Minute Maid juices.
We started our research by looking for the brands that are popular among Generation Z. We looked through sites such as Interbrand, Vision Critical, Business Insider, Hype Beast, Ad Week, Inc.com, Y Pulse and Fast Company. From these sources, we then filtered out the food and CPG brands, which include Oreo, Coca Cola, Jif, Hi-C, EOS, Sephora Planters, Doritos, Hershey's, M&M's, Cheetos and Sour Patch Kids, among others.
With these brands in mind, we then looked for information on how they have been successful with Generation Z. We checked sites such as Business Insider, Gen Z Insights, Food Dive, Food Business News, Entrepreneur.com and Marketing Dive, among others. With the insights that we found in these sources, we were able to come up with case studies of food and other CPG brands that have been successful with Gen Z, including what they are doing to attract Gen Z consumers and metrics associated with their success.