Gen Z Research: Popular Brands
- Despite the substantial variability in the most popular consumer goods brands among Gen Zers in South Korea, Japan and Mexico, youth across all three of these countries consistently rate Nike and Adidas as among their favorites.
- Brands are most likely to connect with these consumers through non-text content, with South Korea and Japan Gen Zers consuming more content, strongly preferring and making brand and product decisions based on video content, while young Mexicans have the highest interest globally in audio content.
- Particularly in South Korea and Japan, Gen Zers "don't want to see content that feels too fake or directed" and are most interested in consuming content that is "really achievable and less sophisticated."
The research team has provided five or more of the most popular consumer goods brands among Gen Zers specifically within South Korea, Japan and Mexico. In conjunction, the research team has curated two content creation best practices for connecting with this generation in each of the requested countries. Although data specific to the top brands among Gen Z in each domicile was extremely limited, an exhaustive search of reputable sources, published in the English, Japanese and Spanish languages, identified relevant data points. Where credible data was confirmed for more than the desired 5-6 brands, this information was included for reference, as desired.
Most Popular Brands
- Among the three domiciles of interest, data regarding the consumer preferences of Gen Z in South Korea was the most abundant.
- Specifically for this market, the research team identified quantitative information through survey data aggregator Statista regarding the most popular brands among Gen Z, per a 2019 and 2020 Brand Power Index (BPI).
- This BPI indicator synthesized each brand's popularity across three dimensions: image, consumer loyalty and familiarity among the target population.
- Some of the top-performing consumer goods brands according to this evaluation criteria, including their respective BPI score among South Korean Gen Zers, are as follows:
- Starbucks (food and beverage): 61.6 BPI
- Nike (sportswear/shoes): 54.6 BPI
- Innisfree (cosmetics): 47.8 BPI
- Adidas (sportswear/shoes): 47 BPI
- IKEA (home goods): 45 BPI
- Heineken (alcohol): 35.6 BPI
- SPAO (fast fashion): 35.1 BPI
- ZARA (fast fashion): 33.5 BPI
- TOPTEN10 (fast fashion): 32.8 BPI
- Visual depictions of these and other brand rankings for the generation in the country have also been provided below, for reference, as available.
- In contrast to South Korea, quantitative or otherwise ranked data on the band preferences of Gen Z in Japan was extremely limited.
- The preponderance of relevant information consisted of anecdotal statements by Japanese media outlets that mentioned "brands that are popular with Gen Z in Japan" (e.g., Success Boards's reporting on the popularity of beauty products company Yukosu and clothing brand REVEYU among this cohort in the country).
- However, the research team ultimately located the results of a survey by Macromill Brand Data Bank which quantitatively assessed the consumption behavior of Gen Z in Japan, with a particular emphasis on young women.
- As reported by Japanese business outlet Nikkei Business, the 2020 survey revealed the brands that are most preferred among Gen Z women based on a Popular Brand Index (PBI) that prioritized brands which were (1) liked by the most Gen Zers and (2) liked more frequently by Gen Zers than other generations in Japan.
- Some of the top-performing consumer goods brands according to this evaluation criteria, including their respective PBI score among Japanese Gen Zers, are as follows:
- GU (clothing): 29.1% Popularity, 2.6 PBI
- Uniqlo (clothing): 26.9% Popularity, 1.1 PBI
- Nike (sportswear/shoes): 14.4% Popularity, 1.4 PBI
- Adidas (sportswear/shoes): 13% Popularity, 1.5 PBI
- Chifure (beauty): 12% Popularity, 1.4 PBI
- Honeys (clothing): 11.8%Popularity, 4.3 PBI
- Earth Music and Ecology (clothing): 11.2% Popularity, 2.3 PBI
- MUJI (beauty): 11.6% Popularity, 20 PBI
- New Balance (sportswear/shoes): 11.6% Popularity, 1.2 PBI
- Converse (sportswear/shoes): 11.5% Popularity, 2 PBI
- ing (clothing): 11% Popularity, 4.8 PBI
- Cezanne (beauty): 8.4% Popularity, 2.9 PBI
- Coach (handbags/accessories): 7.6% Popularity, 0.6 PBI
- Casio (watches/accessories): 6.9% Popularity, 1.3 PBI
- Notably, separate data confirms the popularity of at least five of these brands with Gen Z of all genders (Nike, Adidas, Uniqlo, Casio, Converse).
- Meanwhile, visual depictions (in both the original source language, as well as an English translation) of these and other brand rankings for the generation in the country have also been provided below, for reference, as desired.
- Mirroring the data availability limitations for Japan, publicly available information about Gen Z's brand preferences in Mexico was also largely paywalled (e.g., MBLM's 2020 Brand Intimacy Study) or comprised of anecdotal statements by Mexican media outlets (e.g., Vix's reporting on the popularity of gaming console Xbox, streaming service Spotify and beauty brand Sephora among this cohort in the country).
- However, international consultancy Deloitte recently reported the results of a survey of the Most Valuable Brands for Mexicans, according to brand and customer experience agency VMLY&R.
- Although the report's underlying data was not available in the public domain, Deloitte confirmed five of the most popular consumer goods brands among Gen Z in Mexico, specifically:
- Nike (sportswear/shoes)
- Adidas (sportswear/shoes)
- Coca-Cola (food and beverage)
- Tia Rosa (food and beverage)
- Bic (office supplies)
- The report added that other leading brands among the generation include Google, Whatsapp, Android, Facebook and Wal-Mart.
Content Creation Best Practices
- Perhaps the single, most influential best practice for creating content that connects with Gen Z audiences in South Korea is producing content in video format.
- This best practice was selected based on a June 2020 analysis by McKinsey as well as multiple, separate corroborating data sets, which consistently indicated that South Korean Gen Zers, consume more content through video than any other medium, strongly prefer video over its alternatives and consistently use video content when making both brand and product decisions.
- Specifically in terms of content consumption, almost half (44.9%) of all media consumed by the younger generations in South Korea is through video, per 2019 data reported by Statista.
- Moreover, a separate 2019 analysis found that three-fourths of Gen Zers in the country either "prefer" (40.5%) or "strongly prefer" (33.8%) visual content such as videos over more traditional text advertising and communications.
- Consistent with these findings, McKinsey asserted that Gen Zers in South Korea were the most likely across all of Asia to rely on video-based content when making "brand and product-purchase decisions."
- Although pundits such as Forbes offer mixed reasons for the popularity of video among this generation, Vogue and other consumer experts offer more specific details related to where such video content creation will have the biggest impact.
- Most recently, Vogue asserted that Twitch is emerging as a leading video content platform among Gen Zers in the country, and has grown in users by 30% since the start of the pandemic.
- Additionally, Statista reported that YouTube and TikTok continue to dominate as the "most popular video streaming applications" for Gen Z in South Korea, with penetration rates as high as 93.5% and 37.3%, respectively.
- In conjunction, the integration of authentic influencers (versus celebrities) within content was identified as a second best practice for producing content that reaches Gen Z in South Korea, based on the guidance of industry experts (e.g., Vogue, Instagram) as well as the substantiation offered by case study examples in the country.
- Notably, South Korean Gen Zers are among the least likely in the world to discover and engage with brands through celebrity-endorsed messaging, with only 17% proving receptive to such content, according to GlobalWebIndex.
- In contrast, Vogue and Instagram report that integrating "expert bloggers" and other authentic influencers into content will "win out" over other strategies in terms of engaging Gen Z audiences in the country, and can therefore enable brands to "deliver stronger content" to this target audience.
- Vogue adds that the popularity of such influencers is "propelling live-streaming platforms" in South Korea, where Gen Zers can interact with streamers through such video-based content.
- Specifically in the case of Brandi, a South Korean fashion e-commerce brand that targets Gen Z, the brand found that integrating relevant, mid-level influencers such as public fashion figures into its content achieved an "11.8% higher return on ad spend" as well as an "11% lower cost per purchase" and an "8% lower cost per landing page view."
- In particular, Brandi reported that partnering with local "bloggers and fashion icons" on branded content (e.g., curated stories) enabled the consumer goods company to "reach a wider audience, drive more brand interest and consideration...[and] make its...campaigns more engaging."
- Somewhat mirroring South Korea, leveraging video as a content medium was chosen as a leading best practice for generating content geared towards Gen Z Japanese consumers, in this case per the assertions of a preponderance of consumer researchers (e.g., McKinsey), advertising experts (e.g., Keywordmap Academy, Criteo), consumer goods industry vendors (e.g., Printful) and local media (e.g., The Conversation).
- According to Printful, "video content is an iron plate of content that attracts the interest of Gen Z consumers" in Japan.
- The Conversation adds that "Gen Z in Japan is greatly influenced in their brand selection by video content," particularly across video-based social networking sites.
- Video-based content appeals to Gen Zers in the country given that they are frequently "bored and multitasking," and "the disposable time spent on one piece of content tends to be short." Video enables these young consumers to view/consume content in a "shorter time" alongside other activities of interest (e.g., social networking).
- As evidence of the prevalence and preference for video-based content among youth in the country:
- 60.5% of Gen Z Japanese report using video-sharing sites.
- More than half consume at least 23 hours of video content a week.
- This group streams between 300 and 500 minutes of live video content per month.
- And just under 40% rely on video-based content when making "brand and product-purchase decisions."
- Meanwhile, Printful suggests that the "most important thing in creating video content" that targets Japanese Gen Zers is that it is "attractive" with or without sound, given that "many users' in this cohort consume video content with the volume off while multitasking on social media.
- Similarly echoing recommendations for content creation in nearby South Korea, producing authentic-looking content was determined to be a second best practice for creating content for Japanese Gen Zers based on the guidance of Vogue, Salesforce and Printful.
- Japanese Gen Zers are increasingly understood to be "more sympathetic" to authentic or humane content than to "filtered, unrealistic, orderly content."
- According to Salesforce, this cohort is interested in consuming content that is "really achievable and less sophisticated."
- In recognition of this attitude, American Eagle is among the brands that do not use Photoshop in advertisements that are intended for Japanese Gen Zers, recognizing that they "don't want to see content that feels too fake or directed."
- Specifically in terms of influencer-led content, Japanese Gen Zers are even less likely (5%) than their peers in South Korea (17%) to respond positively to celebrity endorsements.
- Masahiro Ito, COO of Japanese fashion e-commerce portal Zozotown, suggests this is because this audience is "hyper-aware of paid advertisement and want influencers and KOLs to believe in the product or brand they are trying to sell." Mr. Ito recommends engaging product designers or leaders rather than "just anyone" when producing live video content for this group.
- Manako Kaname, social media and fashion specialist for Japanese advertising agency Dentsu, similarly suggests that influencer content is best created using "micro-influencers or peers instead of macro-influencers" when targeting Gen Z in Japan, while Dentsu Senior Business Strategist and Researcher Rie Tanaka adds that "Gen Z wants to be approached in a narrow and deep, insightful way instead of using a mass approach with a big talent [and] hashtag ads."
- Printful goes a step further by suggesting that the "key to success" in creating authentic content for Gen Zers in Japan is leveraging user-generated content, such as "visuals of buyers who are actually using the product."
- Recognizing that relevant information for Gen Z in Mexico was substantially more limited, the research team triangulated data from content marketing specialist Collab Digital, market researcher GlobalWebIndex and top-tier business outlet Entrepreneur to confirm that producing content in an audio format was among the best practices for creating content that connects with youth in the country.
- Notably, a 2019 study by GlobalWebIndex revealed that Mexican Gen Zers have the highest interest globally in audio content such as music, with well over 82% reporting such content as a top-five interest.
- In tandem, slightly dated (2018) reporting by Entrepreneur suggested that "digital audio" is among the best tactics to "woo" Gen Z in the country.
- In particular, Entrepreneur cited a research report by IAB México and Nielsen México, which found that audio such as music (96%), radio (41%), audiobooks (17%) and podcasts (8%) are among the most consumed form of content by Gen Z in Mexico.
- The report added that this audio content is "consumed mainly through mobile devices," particularly for music, audiobooks and podcasts.
- Collab Digital corroborated this finding, by stating that the "only effective method to reach" Gen Zers in Mexico is through digital, mobile content such as audio programming.
- Meanwhile, IAB México and Nielsen México found that this cohort in Mexico prefers audio content subjects such as entertainment (60%), technology (50%), culture (50%) and beauty (39%).
- The researchers added that although audio content has "constant contact with young people throughout the day" in Mexico, they are much more likely to listen to music (80%) and radio programs (63%) in the morning and audiobooks (74%) and music (67%) in the evening.
- Lastly, shorter-form content was identified as a best practice for reaching Gen Z consumers in Mexico based on the assertions of digital consumer researcher Tendencias Digitales, Latin American retail trade America Retail and Collab Digital.
- Notably, Tendencias Digitales found through its research into Mexican Gen Zers that "shorter duration content is more relevant for this generation," particularly in terms of entertainment content.
- Collab Digital similarly suggested that content geared towards Gen Z in the country needs to "capture their attention in a fraction of a second," adding that if loading a piece of content "takes more than a few seconds," it is likely that the Gen Z Mexican has "moved on to something else."
- Collab Digital added that Gen Z's desire for speed is the result of their use of mobile devices for content consumption, suggesting that as "devices continue to evolve towards faster, more immediate and personalized machines, so the minds of Gen Z move on the same concept."
- Considering this consumer mindset, independent ad Agency Mekanism highlighted memes as an alternative form of content that "gets more engagement" among this generation.
- In particular, Mekanism Media Director Carrie Dino reported that brands that incorporate memes into visual content for Mexican Gen Zers often enjoy 30% engagement rates on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, compared with only 1% to 15% for more traditional "influencer or brand content."
The research team quickly ascertained that data related to the most popular brands among Gen Z in South Korea, Japan and Mexico is extremely limited in the public domain, particularly when compared with other domiciles such as the United States. In many instances where such data appeared to be available, it was very often paywalled (e.g., MBLM's 2020 Brand Intimacy Study includes the top brands among Gen Z in the United States for free, but charges a per brand fee for information about Mexican youth). However, after conducting an exhaustive search of publications in the English, Japanese and Spanish languages by the most reputable consumer researchers (e.g., GlobalWebIndex), media outlets (e.g., Nikkei Business), survey data aggregators (e.g., Statista) and other credible sources (e.g., Deloitte), the research team obtained relevant, data-backed insights related to the top brands among Gen Z for each of the three requested countries.
Meanwhile, in order to identify content creation best practices for connecting with Gen Z in South Korea, Japan and Mexico, the research team leveraged only the most reputable sources available, including McKinsey & Co., Vogue, Salesforce and Instagram. Although relevant information that was both current and specifically relevant to this generation in Mexico was more limited, the research team was able to add robustness to the provided findings by leveraging slightly dated (2018) information in some cases for corroboration/additional detail.