Gen Z is ushering in a whole new era of values-based shopping, according to Pinterest’s Grace MacDonald.

As of 2019, 18.8% of the UK population were members of Gen Z, so it’s no surprise that retailers have placed a major focus on reaching them.

The problem that advertisers face, however, is that Gen Z is seemingly full of contradictions. They seem to eschew trends as quickly as they embrace them and it can be difficult to pin down the type of content that resonates with them. 

Earlier this year, our team travelled around the UK and spoke to Gen Zs in Manchester, Bristol and London to get a better understanding of their tastes, interests and shopping habits. We spoke to people from different backgrounds and communities, taking the pulse of this generation. 

Everyone we spoke to consistently said that they were looking to shop from brands that share their interests and values – products that reflect the communities they’re part of (think sustainable, LGBTQ+, Black-owned and more). 

Here’s how advertisers can take the insights we discovered and use them to inform their future campaigns. 

Shop your values, not fads

One thing that became abundantly clear is that Gen Z prioritises buying from brands whose missions align with their personal values.

One person we spoke to said: “If I can resonate with that brand, I feel like I can relate to them and I’m just more likely to trust what they’re selling me.”

Another participant said: “I would be willing to spend more money on something more expensive if it was sustainable.”

This lines up with a GlobalWebIndex survey, which found that 60% of people on Pinterest in the UK say they would pay more for an eco-friendly product. 

Inspiring a unique ‘vibe’ 

Another thing that stood out in our interviews was the fact that Gen Z was on the hunt for inspiration.

They’re open-minded when it comes to discovering new brands and products, which makes them receptive to compelling ads.

One woman we spoke to said: “Pinterest is so useful for me because I’m not thinking of something specific that’s easy to type into a shopping website. Most of the time, I’m thinking of a vibe.”

Advertisers can take advantage of this desire to be inspired by identifying topics that are trending with Gen Z and creating relatable ads that align with these trends. 

Top tips to tap into Gen Z

Here are four tips for reaching Gen Z with creative ad campaigns:

  • Recapture the experience of real-world browsing and lifestyle curation by creating organic ads that feel inspiring.

  • Put your company values front and centre in order to resonate with a like-minded audience who are willing to spend more to support brands that share their beliefs. 

  • Use targeted keyword and interest advertising to reach a receptive audience. 

  • Align your creative with topics that are trending with Gen Zs. 

Get to know the UK’s Gen Z and tap into their values-focused mindset.

 Grace MacDonald is head of business marketing for UK at Pinterest