Engaging Millennials and Generation Z in the Coronavirus Era

January 2021

Engaging millennials and Generation Z consumers matters now more than ever, as the disruptions experienced by these unique generations since the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) have accelerated both challenges and opportunities for businesses. To win over young consumers today, companies need to adapt agile innovation and redefine their strategies over price, values and activism to align with the new priorities and spending behaviour of millennials and Gen Z in the “new normal”.

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Key Findings

Engaging millennials and Gen Z is critical for business to survive and thrive in the new normal

Millennials and Gen Z account for nearly half of the global population, making them the most important consumer segment. The challenges for business to engage these special cohorts accelerated after the outbreak of COVID-19, as young consumers experienced worsened employment and income prospects, as well as shifts in values and consumption behaviour.

Agility and co-creation are key innovation strategies for business to stay new, exciting and accessible

To engage young consumers who are doing things differently, innovation strategies need to be agile, forward thinking, collaborative and frequently revisited. These progressive cohorts have new routines and new demands that are constantly shifting. Business needs to excite them with new dynamic innovations that engage them emotionally.

Business should redefine value and affordability and tailor strategy for each income segment

Amid economic recession, companies will need to understand and address what value and affordability means for their most important segment. Risk-averse young consumers will now seek products and services that deliver value and quality, as well as peace of mind for them.

Brand portfolios must align with the values and priorities of young consumers

Millennial and Gen Z purchase decisions are defined by their values and life priorities. Companies should embrace the similarities between these when developing new products and improving on existing ones, but must also understand and accommodate differences between generations and individuals.

Brands must adapt for social inclusion and world improvement

Young consumers globally are joining forces for change, demanding more urgency and action on environmental issues and social injustice. They are making choices to support change and expect the same from the companies they buy from.

Introduction

Scope
Key findings
Why millennials and Gen Z?
Four pillars of engaging millennials and Gen Z

Millennials and Gen Z in the Coronavirus Era

Unique groups of consumers
Diversity in demographic and income levels
Real activists and influencers
Long-lasting impacts of COVID-19
The “new-normal” young consumer

How to Engage Young Consumers

Four pillars of engaging young consumers
Innovation: frequently adapting to stay new, exciting and accessible
Innovation: collaborative creativity to win with young consumers
Case Study: Squadded Shopping recreates group shopping experiences online
Price: redefine value and affordability
Price: tailored strategy for each income segment
Case Study: Public Goods reduces price and complexity with private label
Values: develop and enhance products and services around key values
Values: Gen Z - individualistic and challenging but still want fun
Case Study: Rent the Runway adapts to attract Gen Z
Values: millennials prioritise convenience but still indulge
Case Study: Villa Copenhagen offers exclusive sustainable experiences
Activism: young game changer activists connecting to demand change
Activism: embracing diversity and social inclusion
Case Study: adidas a first mover for genderless retail stores
Activism: young activists step up to save the planet
Case Study: aspiration Bank helps consumers to save the planet

Conclusion

Outlook for millennials and Generation Z
Key takeaways
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