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  • Writer's pictureDeJuan Wright

3 Clever Marketing Tactics Classic Brands Are Applying to Attract Gen Z Consumers

Adaptability. From both a philosophical, as well as a biological standpoint, there may not be a word in the English language that better describes the survival of mankind today than adaptability. Oxford Languages defines adaptability as the quality of being able to adjust to new conditions.

Think back to some of the most difficult situations you've overcome, whether in your current profession—or in school, and try to imagine what the outcomes would have been had you not been able to adjust to those new and unforeseen conditions. 

Wouldn’t you agree that you probably would not be as strong and confident as you are today had you not made the necessary adjustments to prevail over those situations?

Classic brands that we’ve grown up enjoying are now facing a dire task in which their ability to adapt will either determine a fortunate or an undesirable outcome in regards to their company’s bottom-line in both the present as well as in the future. That task consists of attracting Gen Zers towards their brand. 

And they’re applying some pretty clever marketing tactics in order to do so. 

Evoking nostalgia

As crazy as it may sound, evoking nostalgia isn’t just an effective marketing tactic that brands could use aimed towards Gen X consumers and those who came before them. It’s actually quite the contrary. The evoking of nostalgia by brands could actually have a positive effect on consumers of all age groups. 

That’s because nostalgia often evokes a feeling that people of all ages yearn for—joy. 

One particular classic brand that we’re all affectionately familiar with is currently utilizing the power of nostalgia to lure Gen Zers to their stores. Beginning May 21st, 2024, McDonald’s will launch their latest dessert offering, the, “Grandma McFlurry.” 

The dessert is a tribute to the “#Grandmacore” theme that has become incredibly popular amongst Gen Zers on TikTok. 

“The Grandma McFlurry tastes like a trip down memory lane, and we're excited to give our fans that experience while honoring the grandma-figure in all our lives,” said McDonald’s chief marketing & experience officer, Tariq Hassan, in a news release. 

McDonald’s isn’t the only major fast food chain that’s harnessing the power of nostalgia to bring customers closer to their brand. This spring, Wendy’s also added, the, “Orange Dreamsicle Frosty,” to their dessert menu in hopes of appealing to customers by taking them on a stroll down memory lane. 

Strategic Licensing

Catchy as it may be, Visa’s popular slogan, It’s everywhere you want to be, isn’t just a witty way to describe the brand’s accessibility to reach their customers around the world. Besides being one of the greatest slogans ever created, the slogan could also serve as an axiom for what should be an objective for every brand—to be everywhere that your target audience currently is and wants to be. 

To ensure their brand will get in front of as many Gen Zers as possible, a clever marketing move being made by some of the brands that we all grew up adoring; is using licensing deals to increase their brand’s reach. 

This technique has been extremely successful  for General Mills’ Cinnamon Toast Crunch brand. 

Realizing that Gen Z consumers rarely saunter down the cereal aisle in grocery stores, General Mills inked licensing deals to expand the Cinnamon Toast Crunch brand appeal by landing sensible partnerships with brands like soft pretzel chain Pretzelmaker, for “Cinnadust” pretzel bites, and The Original Donut Shop for the “Cinnamon Toast Crunch K Cup,” they also made a very unconventional partnership.

General Mills also secured a very peculiar, yet incredibly successful partnership deal with the footwear brand Crocs—which resulted in social media influencers going absolutely bananas over the release of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch-themed kicks. The collaboration resulted in the cereal brand’s clogs becoming a huge hit amongst Gen Z fashionistas. 

Organizing festivals

After well over a century of being one of the five most recognizable brands on the planet—it would be quite easy for Coca-Cola to rest on their laurels as the biggest soft drink brand the world has ever seen.

But great brands do not remain that way by living off of their past accomplishments. Instead, great brands find new and exciting ways to foster affinity amongst youthful audiences—in hopes of growing their popularity amongst younger consumer bases. 

A surely effective way to grow your popularity in the eyes of just about any audience is by throwing great parties. Which is precisely what Coca-Cola has done to keep Gen Zers drawn to their brand. Understanding the demographic’s fondness for music festivals firsthand by sponsoring music festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza, the brand now throws its own music festival—the Coca-Cola Music Experience.  

Created to build a link between the brand and teens through their passion for music, this year, the two day festival (which is set to take place this fall in Madrid, Spain) will feature more than 30 artists whose performances will also be livestreamed for the world to see. 

Does your startup need help attracting Gen Z consumers?

Looking for the ideal marketing firm to help your startup attract Gen Z consumers as well? If so, then look no further. At Decryption, we specialize in helping startups like yours connect with Gen Z consumers via contemporary culture-focused brand strategies and marketing services.

Take the first step to having your startup become the next Decryption client by contacting us today and scheduling a call so that we could help your brand connect with consumers via culture.  


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