What I know about designing for Gen Z
Gen Z - opinionated, driven by ethics and a consumer group with purchasing power as high as $323 billion in the USA. Creative designer Bhavisha Chavda reveals three steps to capturing the hearts and minds of this hard-to-please generation.
Words by: Bhavisha Chavda
#1 Inclusivity is important
You only have to look at #americaneagle or #aerieREAL on Instagram to see how highly engaged its consumer base is. Inclusivity is woven into American Eagle’s brand DNA in a way that makes it hyper-aware of its core consumer - those aged 15-24.
When designing experiences for American Eagle we are wholly focused on designing moments in time that resonate with this audience specifically. Rather than defaulting to campaigns that showcase aspirational lifestyles in far flung and luxurious locations we keep it down to earth and relatable by working with bedrooms and cityscapes - the playgrounds of 15-24 year olds. If it’s natural, attainable and realistic then it’s likely to be on brand for American Eagle.
#2 Creativity, co-creation and social proofing
Research shows that 48% of Gen Z spend free time doing creative activities. To respond to this, our design strategy is centred around the concept of self expression. From flagship stores to experiential activations and pop-ups, each place that the American Eagle brand appears integrates an element of co-creation that directly appeals to the consumer.
The design process goes a long way in unlocking this creativity. At the first ideation stage we have the freedom to go crazy, explore and push ideas - digital art, collaborations, viral social concepts - anything goes. This has resulted in some super creative activations that have amassed thousands of visits and social shares.
#3 Hyper-tailored experiences
American Eagle may be a big corporation but when it comes to designing its experiences, we think like an independent. 49% of Gen Z prefer to buy from local or independent retailers which means that we need to be creative in the ways that we overcome the perception of big brands.
We do this by hyper-tailoring the experiences - not just to the consumer group overall but to the consumers that are specifically residing in the locations we are designing for. We listen to their needs - what would people in that area find valuable? How can we reward them in return for their time visiting these experiences?
In NYC we created the AE Studio - a flagship store / community hangout space situated below student halls. Responding to student’s struggle for space and safe places to hangout, the store offers a free place for students to do laundry and a co-working space with free wifi and refreshments.
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