The Next Generation of Promo: What’s Trending with Generations Z and Alpha

  • Jun 20, 2022

While many people typically think of Generation Z as a bunch of teens dancing on TikTok, this generation actually makes up a sizeable portion of the current workforce. In fact, Gen Z was born between 1996 and 2010, making the oldest Gen Zers 26 or 27. On the other hand, Generation Alpha is still currently being born, with its ranks made up of people born between 2011 and the mid-2020s. (Millennials, born between 1980 and 1995, the oldest of which being in their 40’s – y’all can sit this one out).

Gen Z holds a large portion of buying power, making them a key demographic. Understanding what appeals to this group and what trends interest them is integral to effectively marketing to this large, influential group. But don’t worry – we made it easy for you. Here are 5 of the hottest trends among Gen Z right now:

Taking Wellness Into Their Own Hands

A few examples of the types of wellness content that goes viral on TikTok.

Health and wellness are essential to Gen Zers and their younger counterparts. Spend 15 minutes scrolling on Instagram or TikTok, and you’ll notice that a large amount of content is centered around wellness. Gen Z consumes a considerable amount of wellness and lifestyle content and is always looking for the next hot product to support them in their wellness journey.

Mental health and wellness are vital to younger generations. In fact, 64% of surveyed Millennials and Generation Zers reported emotional wellbeing as most important to their overall health.

(Source: Vice Media Group)Products for the wellness-minded Gen Zer span a variety of categories and product types. For popular retail products, you have things like the Olaplex haircare line, the Dyson Air Wrap hair styler, or large water bottles like the HydroJug. These trends easily transfer over to promotional products – think products like journals for daily affirmations and meditations, massage guns, candles, and more.

At Home in the Kitchen

One of TikTok’s most viral recipes, the Emily Mariko salmon rice bowl.

Contrary to popular stereotypes, Gen Z is not all the lazy, Uber Eats-ordering generation that they’re typically depicted as. Generation Z is learning to cook and bake from videos on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, and cooking content creators are some of the most popular creators on these apps.

Over 1 in 4 teens and young adults are trying something new, like baking bread from scratch and inventive cakes.

53% of Gen Zers enjoy cooking, and 71% would love to learn how to cook more!

(Source: The 2022 Instagram Trend Report, The Hartman Group)

When it comes to products for the home and kitchen, aesthetics are critical to younger generations. They want products that are functional and useful, of course, but also things that look good on their counters or in their cabinets. When choosing home and kitchen products for Gen Z and Gen Alpha, make sure to look for products that are beautiful to look at while remaining functional.

Let’s Talk Fashion

We’ve covered fashion trends all over the #SAGEBlog, so we’re not going to dive too far into this one, but you can read up on all things trending apparel here.

Fashion is a massive part of how younger generations express themselves and identify with each other, so it’s essential to understand what matters to them when it comes to getting dressed.

Source: Universal Standard

Right now, inclusivity is the name of the game for Gen Z and Gen Alpha. So, what is inclusivity? For apparel, it means being inclusive of a whole host of variables: body size, gender expression, sensory needs, etc. Generation Z cares about making on-trend fashion accessible and inclusive for everyone regardless of gender or size.

“Gender-neutral” doesn’t have to be complicated. 56% of Gen Z shop “outside” of their gender for clothing.

(Source: Vice Media Group via Vogue Business)

Corporate social responsibility is important to younger generations, and they want to see apparel companies walking to walk as well as talking the talk. If companies talk a big game about inclusivity, they have to have the products and range to back it up – simply proclaiming a commitment to inclusivity is not enough for Gen Z.

76% of Gen Zers feel diversity and inclusion are important topics for brands to address.

More than half of Gen Zers said they would like to see brands include more diverse casting and imagery in their advertising and branding.

(Source: Quantilope)

For the promo world, inclusivity should be a no-brainer. You want to capture as large an audience as possible, so why exclude all of your audience that falls above a size XL? When helping your customers choose apparel or uniforms, if appealing to Gen Z is important, guide them towards lines that have size options outside the standard XS through XL. The promotional products industry is picking up on this now, and many larger apparel suppliers carry a more comprehensive range of sizes. Additionally, lots of promo apparel is unisex, which is great for gender neutrality.

Putting the “Me” in Media

Alright, I’ll admit it: some stereotypes have truth to them. Generations Z and Alpha love their screen time. Whether it’s the apps on their phones, computers, gaming on the TV, or streaming, these generations love their media.

70% of teens expect to discover new music or artists through social media in 2022.

40% of teens and young adults expect to see more video game trends in 2022.

(Source: The 2022 Instagram Trend Report)Media, especially social media, is how younger people discover new shows, artists, music, games, and brands. This is a trend where tech-centered promotional products are the way to go – think about things that they can use to better enjoy their media like headphones, speakers, ring lights, and more.

Nostalgia Reigns Supreme

Source: The Spice Girls

Nostalgia is a hot topic for many industries right now, and Generation Z and Alpha are absolutely obsessed with the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Nostalgia was huge in 2021, and this trend is expected to continue well into 2022. Since 2020, mentions of keywords relating to nostalgia have increased 88%.

(Source: Hubspot)

Nostalgia seeps into marketing, home design, clothing, and online – it’s everywhere. The Y2K aesthetic has been monumental on TikTok since the beginning of the pandemic, and it’s just continuing to grow, especially among teens and the younger parts of Gen Z. For promotional products, this means items like bucket hats, fanny packs, butterfly clips, and matching sweatsuit sets. If you might have seen it in a tabloid magazine circa-2002, chances are it will appeal to Gen Z.

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