Why there’s a difference in the way generations perceive brands

8 April 2023

The relationship between consumers and brands has significantly evolved, and it’s no surprise that generations perceive brands differently. Each generation has unique characteristics, values, and experiences that shape how they approach brand engagement.

In this blog post, we’ll explore why generations in the UK perceive brands differently, with a focus on Millennials and Generation Z.

Generational differences play a significant role in shaping how people perceive brands

Simply put, Baby Boomers like me grew up in a time of economic prosperity and stability, which resulted in a strong focus on traditional values and brand loyalty. The generation that followed, Generation X, experienced rapid social and technological change, leading to a more cynical and independent outlook towards brands.

In contrast, Millennials and Generation Z have grown up in an era of digital transformation and globalization, resulting in a new set of expectations and behaviours.

One of the most important reasons for the differences in brand perception between generations is the availability of information relative to their era. Millennials and Generation Z are digital natives and have grown up with easy access to information, resulting in a heightened sense of awareness (and scepticism) and therefore a need for brand transparency.

They were the first to research products, read reviews, and seek out opinions from peers before making a purchase decision. This behaviour has now spread to us all. As a result, brands need to prioritise their transparency and ethical practices to gain and retain trust.

The influence of social media

Millennials and Generation Z were the first to embrace using social media platforms to express their opinions, connect with others, and stay informed about the world around them. This has resulted in a shift towards brand engagement on social media platforms.

These generations expect brands to be present on social media and that they will engage with them in a meaningful way. Consequently, those that fail to embrace social media risk being left behind and losing relevance. 

Millennials and Generation Z also value experiences over material possessions, leading to a shift in how brands approach marketing. These generations prioritise unique and memorable experiences, which has resulted in a rise in experiential marketing. Brands that can create an immersive and engaging experience for consumers can capture the attention and loyalty of Millennials and Generation Z.

They’re also driven by the Climate Crisis, and are more environmentally conscious than previous generations, leading to a shift in brand values.

These generations prioritise sustainability and expect brands to be transparent and accountable for their impact on the environment. It follows that brands demonstrating a commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship are more likely to resonate with these generations.

Different generations in the UK

The mix of generations in the UK perceives brands differently due to a range of factors – access to information, the influence of social media, a shift towards experiential marketing, and a focus on sustainability.

Millennials and Generation Z are driving significant changes in brand engagement, as their digital native status and unique values shape their expectations of brands.

According to a 2022 report by Mintel, Millennials and Gen Z in the UK are reshaping the shopping experience by increasing demand for sustainable and ethical goods and personalised products and experiences.

Brands are well aware they must adapt and respond to all the above changes to engage all generations and retain their loyalty. However, the speed of change and disruption in all areas is unrelenting. It can create a culture of constant change and uncertainty within organisations.

Employees may feel overwhelmed by the pace of change and struggle to keep up with new processes and procedures. This can lead to a decline in morale, productivity and job satisfaction. This in turn can have a significant impact on the overall performance of a brand.

To succeed in today’s fast-paced world, brands must be agile, innovative, and responsive to their customer’s changing needs and preferences. They must also stay on top of emerging technologies and trends, and create a culture that supports continuous learning and adaptation.

The brands that can navigate the challenges of the speed of change are more likely to be the ones that succeed and thrive in the long run.

If you’d like to talk about the brand in more detail and to understand how we can help you with your ability to connect meaningfully in a multigenerational world, then contact us at hello@yellowyoyo.co.uk, call 01908 980 400 or leave a message here.