What does gen Z really expect from luxury brands ? People mistakenly think of Gen Z (or centennials) as a lazy, unstable and stubborn bunch of young reckless misfits allergic to authority. And yet, those young reckless people are also genuinely committed, ambitious and involved in worthy causes. They might be paradoxical but they never take action without thinking about the consequences.
It is actually wrong to assert that Gen Z is unfit to work, to lead, or to engage in the creation of some serious business.
They just merely try to draw meaning from everything they do, to stand for their values and opinions in order to leave a more significant mark than their elders. But just like them, they are also highly attracted by the luxury market and the fashion industry. However, Gen Z, unlike Gen X and Gen Y, has a brand new way to deal with the luxury and high-end industry. The truth is, they think a lot before they buy. What do they actually expect from luxury brands, then ?
Social progress and engagement is needed
Gen Z (Centennials) is much less individualistic and vain than Gen Y (Millennials) and almost always take part in social struggles. As a result, they are not afraid to take sides and boycott some brands and industries when they make a wrong move. To that end, they make themselves heard thanks to social networks and medias. Also, Gen Z tends to give credit to inclusive brands with a strong social, ethical or green commitment.
Another point to consider is that Gen Z seems to be torn between a “me” side and a “we” side. On one hand, they have a propensity for self-worship on social networks and on the other hand, they never hesitate to throw themselves into a community. Nevertheless, they are not afraid to show their two faces. Moreover, they are progressively building an heterogeneous but federate a collective identity around bodypositivism, #metoo, blacklivesmatter and many other powerful movements. In other words, centennials are proactive and reactive but above all, truly altruistic.
The relationship between luxury brands and Gen Z
Luxury market as we know it is now over for Gen Z simply because they do not find any interest in buying a 70 000 dollars Birkin when they can afford something more significant for the same price. The french luxury market, for instance, still looks distant and inaccessible for centennials that tends to turn to high end brands such as Michael Kors, Vanessa Bruno or Coach when it comes to buying a handbag. But some brands like Gucci or Louis Vuitton genuinely understood the impact of the “hype” vibe, conveyed by streetwear brands like Supreme.
As a result of this paradigm shift and since 2015, catwalks are becoming more diverse and hybrid by playing with the codes of street style. Furthermore, luxury brands and especially american ones are gradually starting to commit themselves and embrace ethical and social causes, which is widely praised by the centennials on social media.
While the NY Fashion Week was much written about last year because of the strong political significance, fashion houses such as Versace, Gucci or Jean Paul Gaultier banished fur from their upcoming collections. As a consequence, the luxury market is slowly but steadily waking up and changing.
A trendsetting way to buy luxury
Gen Z is determined to buy luxury in a more thoughtful and responsible way and to include the sharing economy at the heart of their concerns with trendy apps and websites : Le Collectionist : a french website which is depicted as the “rich people Airbnb” with luxury and/or charming properties. Vestiaire Collective : a peer-to-peer marketplace for buying luxury, high-end and rare vintage items. Depop : A prime example of what a “Gen Z app” looks like, half peer-to-peer marketplace, half social network. Also, it is not about owning and buying something but rather living and sharing some “luxury experience”.
This is why centennials are more inclined to turn to peer-to-peer business. Spending 40 000 $ for a pair of stilettos ? No way ! Luxury brands must climb on the bandwagon and prepare for this new generation because times, people and the rules of the game are deeply changing.