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Six Metrics to Measure Gen Z Brand Affinity


Courtest of FutureCast

During the annual ICR Conference in Orlando, keynoter Jeff Fromm had a lot of marketing advice for brands looking to resonate with the younger generations, especially Gen Z. 

Fromm, a longtime brand guru and president of the millennial-focused FutureCast marketing agency, had six key areas of examination for brands when it comes to those younger consumers.  

1. Social Circle – Is your brand actually part of cultural conversations? 

Fromm used a case study in Wingstop as an example of tapping into the cultural conversation around a brand. 

While scouring social media, Fromm’s team found that they were getting a lot of attention around April 20, the day that cannabis users celebrate their intoxicating pastime. Across social media, Wingstop came up in plans to celebrate with wings and fries. 

That opened up the brand for what Fromm called “just in time” or “snackable” content, a timely little marketing push to tell all those stoners that the brand gets it. 

So they created some psychedelic commercials to reinforce and amplify the naturally occurring conversation. One of which you can see below. 

Fromm said looking at those conversations is a good reminder that no matter what a brand does, the corporate marketing is not the true brand in the eyes of the consumer. 

“You aren’t the brand,” said Fromm. “We saw Wingstop was in the cultural conversation, so the question is do you want to lean into it.” 

2. Self – Is there a true emotional connection with the consumer? 

It’s hard to kill a brand. one just has to look at the numerous legacy brands that still have a cult-like affinity for fans. Younger consumers aren’t thinking back to those bygone days quite yet, but there are a handful of brands that do evoke a strong emotional response and it turns into real dollars. 

“This usually determines the amount of price elasticity,” said Fromm. 

Nike, Red Bull, Amazon and Fortnite all rank high for emotional connection according to FutureCast, and are all doing pretty well no matter the cost. 

3. Innovative – It’s the useful new. 

“People want more new from their brand, it might not be what they buy, but it’s part of the consumer journey,” said Fromm. 

One just has to look at Taco Bell, a consummate innovator and favorite of young consumers. The nacho fries the brand unveiled as a limited time offer last year are just one example of the brand’s innovation. The fries were added on to 25 percent of orders or 53 million orders in all. Yum said it brought incremental orders to the brand but also served as something to market and remind consumers of the brand’s innovation. 

4. Trusted – Is my brand remarkably consistent? 

Fromm said flat out that incremental trust gains seen in surveys did not affect performance, but losing consumer trust certainly can. The non-franchised Chipotle’s fall was when people stopped trusting the brand not to get them sick. The company lost more than $1 billion in market cap and sales still haven’t fully returned to levels seen before the foodborne illness disaster.  

5. Purpose – Does my brand add good to society? 

Fromm said again, purpose doesn’t correlate one-to-one with performance, but young consumers especially give credit for social good. Numerous brands give anecdotal evidence about how their environmentally friendly programs, for one, get a nod from young consumers, but it gets subjective fast. 

Fromm called out Mod Pizza’s “Second Chances” program that opens the brand up to ex-convicts as both social good and good business. Employees that joined as a part of the program are more likely to stay longer. 

“So there’s a financial incentive even if the consumer doesn’t give you credit,” said Fromm. 

In today’s labor climate, that’s benefit enough and any credit from consumers is just gravy.

6. Accessible – Is my brand hyper useful? 

Gen Z grew up with access to mobile technology and its incredible connectivity to every facet of life. If a brand isn’t available everywhere young consumers want it, how they want it, it may as well not exist. 

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Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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