Advertising has always been aspirational. But the changing mindset of young consumers requires a massive shift of ideals for brands interested in longevity.
There’s definitely a sense that the new, young generation is showing a mindset of reformation, changing the system, and refocusing on what we should have and want as our ideals. While Gen X aspired for material goods and millennials aspired toward experiences, it seems like having less will mean more to Generation Alpha.
In many respects, there’s a groundswell of rejection around past notions of aspirations. Gen Z, the demo that followed millennials, is rejecting the notion of wearing brand badges. Their identity is far from singular as was often the case with earlier generations. With burgeoning ideas around sexuality and gender roles, the next generation of decision makers is branching out and experimenting on multiple levels. Their dedication to individualism marks a rejection of the symbols that lead to classification.
Beauty comes from within for this demo and is proving to be more of an individual sport. Entrenched values that magnify a world view in lieu of a me me me mentality generate value and worth. It’s about self-love and internal validation. Acting in altruistic and authentic ways conjures feelings of beauty. And, experimenting with clothes and brands that illustrate their beliefs is the new normal.
By becoming more democratic with their brand choices, young consumers are proving to be loyal to themselves. They scrutinize all their brand choices and are embracing minimalism with more gusto. Marie Kondo-ing’ their lives, they are cutting clutter and working to spark joy via simplicity. A residual benefit of this zeitgeist is more money to distribute to causes and those less fortunate.
Less is, indeed, more for this next gen that perpetually questions what’s cool and necessary. Is jumping on a plane for a vacation halfway around the world irresponsible for the climate? For many, a trip to the beach via public transportation to stay in a shared Airbnb is the way to go.
Aspirations, indeed, are becoming deeply rooted around simplicity. This group of rising consumers has a bad case of “stuffocation” and is leading change. Some seek a van life, happiness from being off the grid, in nature, and part of the gig economy. Giving back, recycling, sharing, repurposing, and mindfulness are all their guiding tenets.
A tough mindset for big business and consumer-based economies. If consumption slows down and reverses, growth of mature legacy categories will continue so slow. It’s difficult to say for sure what the complexities of the future economic landscape will look like courtesy of simplicity. But brands that want to survive and thrive must embrace radical reform in their outlook. They must collapse categories, products, and brands to meet new consumer demands. The winners will be those companies progressive enough to switch direction.
This outlook is one brand stewards don’t want to hear but must embrace. If they don’t start switching gears now and continue to focus on managing sales shortfalls, they will be accelerating their demise. While seemingly negative and dystopian for brands, opportunity actually knocks.