IRX 2022: Why Gen Z admire brands like Fenty Beauty


At the Internet Retailing Expo in Birmingham two weeks ago, I was delighted by the Imagen Insights panel consisting of one of its co-founders, Jay Richards, and two of its gen z community members. I learned how their community has proven very useful to companies like Amazon Prime for research about Gen Z. They also discussed new trends in buying behaviours and how businesses can keep up with this generation of customers. This was the third talk I attended about Gen Z in two days, and the consistent message across all of them was that this new generation of customers are attracted by:

  • Authenticity 
  • Inclusive innovation 
  • Challenges 

Engage by being authentic 

During the panel discussion, Fenty Beauty was highlighted as a company that successfully engages Gen Z. Yes, it’s a celebrity brand—Fenty Beauty is by Rihanna—but that’s not all. It’s a company that appeals to the value-driven nature of Gen Z shoppers and aligns with their beliefs. These shoppers can tell when a brand is dishonest about its values. Craig Neale, a speaker from the previous day, referred to Gen Z as “the truth generation.” Simply put, it’s not enough for a brand to perform as though they care about a cause, they have to show it in their actions. Even brand owners themselves have to live authentically because they’re being followed by digital natives on multiple social media platforms. Gen Z see the news as it’s happening, especially if it's about the people behind brands they support.  

Most importantly, brands should understand that they don’t need to be everything at once. Authenticity is more easily achievable when a brand focuses on an issue it aligns with and then uses all its resources to support it. By making it clear why you support the cause you do, you will eventually gain a tribe of supporters. For example, at Nibble, we’re passionate about sustainability and focused all of our April content around this theme. Simultaneously, we translated this content into an action; offering half-price fees to all businesses in the circular economy.  

Attract with inclusive innovation 

Gen z adores inclusive innovation, so when Fenty Beauty launched with 40+ foundation shades covering a variety of skin tones, it caught their attention and turned younger shoppers into instant brand evangelists. Nobody felt left out, and everybody was talking about it. The best part of this is that inclusivity is consistent with Rihanna – even her lingerie line Savage X Fenty has models of different sizes and abilities. This makes it easy to trust her intentions as a brand owner and reinforces her authenticity.  

Whoever a brand’s target market is, inclusive innovations are crucial in building a loyal following. Making sure all potential customers feel represented is key for brands to develop more personal connections. 

Tap into word-of-mouth marketing with fun challenges 

Gen Z loves a good challenge. Since TikTok took the world by storm, the word “challenge” has taken on a new meaning. To this generation, a challenge is a campaign that encourages them to do as they’re instructed on video. When Fenty Beauty started the #SoStunna challenge, it aimed to get as many makeup enthusiasts to showcase their looks using Fenty Beauty products. Participants were rewarded by having their videos reposted on the official Fenty Beauty TikTok page, and the brand gained an impressive 6 million views across all the content that was shared.

Your company stands to profit a lot from being admired by Gen Z. Imagine how much your brand could make from a generation with a spending power of approximately $360 Billion. Even if they’re not your direct customers, if your business caters to their parents, they still influence the household spending. This is a fact I hadn’t considered until Wizz Selvey mentioned it in another panel at IRX. 

IRX was a great conference to learn about what Gen Z really connects to, but don’t worry if you missed it because we have a related webinar coming up soon and you can sign up here. We’ll also be at ShopTalk Europe June 6th-8th. If you’re going, be sure to say hello! If you can’t make it, we’ll post our favourite learnings from the conference right here on our blog! Stay tuned. 


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