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5 Brands That Were Made for Gen Z, From Their Maximalist Packaging to Inclusive Values

May 05 2022

As Gen Z becomes the target demographic of an increasing number of industries, brands old and new are refreshing their strategy to get it right with this gen…


TL;DR:

  • Brands are increasingly focusing on Gen Z, and this generation is looking for transparency, bold personality, and inclusion from brands
  • While minimalist designs may have been the go-to for reaching Millennials, Gen Z wants to see creativity in brands’ packaging and overall personality
  • Supporting the social issues Gen Z is passionate about is also vital to authentically reaching this generation

In the last year, legacy brands from Midol to Colgate to Levi’s have reinvented themselves for Gen Z via fresh product packaging and creative digital marketing campaigns. A number of new beauty, lifestyle, and food brands have also popped up to appeal to Gen Z’s love of maximalism, from their bold product designs to their overall brand personality and purpose. While Millennials were all about minimalism (hi, Glossier), Gen Z is the opposite: when it comes to packaging, this gen wants products that exude joy, attitude, and personality, according to Morning Brew reporter Julia Gray. A touch of nostalgia certainly doesn’t hurt either. Monotype’s 2022 trend report highlights “loopy words, balloon letters, and mismatched typefaces” as prominent product packaging trends among young consumers. Meanwhile, Type Designer and Co-Founder of Coppers and Brasses says “expressive,” “flashy,” and “anything with super high contrast, really tight spacing, weird proportions, or flowy ‘70s psychedelic shapes,” are the typefaces of the moment.

Flashy packaging isn’t the only way to Gen Z’s heart. This generation wants the brands they buy to support their social values—especially when it comes to mental health, climate change, and diversity—and to create products that offer a fresh perspective to the industries they’re a part of. And of course, deploying a social media strategy that is equal parts playful and educational—and features diverse models—is also key. With that, here are five brands that are going all-in on Gen Z’s love of maximalism and inclusion while refreshing their strategy for this generation:


Kiramoon
Not only does Kiramoon’s adorable packaging scream Gen Z, the skincare line is on a mission to end the stigma of mental illness. Founder Lindsey Martin came up with the idea for Kiramoon after experiencing a period of immense burnout, grief, and anxiety, noting that she always looked forward to nights spent winding down with a skincare routine, but didn’t love the “sterile” packaging of mainstream products. Kiramoon launched in January 2021 with the goal of making “the cutest, happiest, most effective skincare products on the planet.” And as Martin puts it, Kiramoon (literally) exudes the “magic” of skincare, and features a variety of products including moon globes, hydrating cleanser, a resurfacing facial, serums, and more—all decked out in playful pink packaging. What’s more, a portion of proceeds goes to Bring Change to Mind, a non-profit working to end the stigma around anxiety and depression. Gen Z is a generation that wants to shop brands that are purpose-driven and support the social causes they believe in, with mental health help / care being one of the top social causes they’re passionate about right now.


Topicals
Speaking of skincare, Topicals is also transforming the industry for Gen Z by making mental health and inclusive representation a major part of their brand ethos. Gen Z founders Claudia Teng and Olamide Olowe launched Topicals in August 2020 with the goal of creating science-backed formulas made with every skin shade mind. Shortly after its launch, Topicals sold out on Nordstrom.com within hours, foreshadowing just how hot the brand would continue to become. Topicals focuses on “science-backed, dermatologist-approved” skincare products that help with acne, eczema, and other flare-ups. But beyond their (super eye-catching) product line, the brand is all about being honest about imperfections, not “fixing” but “transforming the way you feel about skin.” The brand is building a positive community around skincare, calling their followers suffering from skin irritations and acne “itchy girls and spottie hotties” and sharing pictures of their fans on Instagram. The brand also donates 1% of their profits to mental health efforts and speaks openly and consistently about mental health issues and on their social platforms.

August
This “personalized period care” brand founded by Gen Zers Nadya Okamoto and Nick Jain wants to be more than a traditional feminine care company. August dubs itself “the next generation of period care,” offering sustainable and ethically-made tampons, pads, and liners that come in packaging designed to be shown off, not hidden away in the bathroom. The site also has informative resources about period health, and many of their products are created with the help and feedback from their Inner Cycle forum, a menstruation-focused online community where their nearly 1,500 members can talk openly about issues important to them. And of course, the Gen Z-helmed brand has utilized social media to get the word out about their products. Okamoto, who also co-founded the nonprofit organization Period and wrote the book Period Power, shares videos to her 556.3K TikTok followers on all things August , and even went viral on the app for a video explaining  how their tampons open sideways to provide more comfort for the wearer. The brand’s official @itsaugustco features videos not only about their products but everything from users sharing their first “period stories” to tips and advice. The brand also wants to make period care more gender inclusive, and offers a Gender Inclusivity Guide that highlights periods and gender. According to Creative Producer Sam De La Cruz, the period space needs to work toward being “gender inclusive and affirming.”

Madam by Madam C.J. Walker
Since 1906, The Madam C.J. Walker Company has been known and credited for its hair products for Black and textured hair in the U.S. “during a time where products were not accessible or marketed to African Americans.” The legacy brand recently rebranded and launched Madam by Madam C.J. Walker, a new haircare line to reach “the next generation of beauty obsessives.” The line features 11 new products including curl creams, leave-in conditioners, shampoos, and scalp serums, all of which are inspired by Walker. Her great-great-granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles tells Glamour how collaborating with Walmart was important for making an accessible line that reflects the quality and values of the original Madam C.J. Walker products, with each item coming in at under $10. According to Bundles, when she was younger, she never saw products for Black women in beauty and lifestyle magazines, so making items available at an affordable price point was important to her.


Baskin-Robbins
Yes, even a 77-year-old ice cream chain can undergo a brand refresh in hopes of attracting a younger audience. Baskin-Robbins recently unveiled its new look, which features a less “childish” logo, fresh packaging, new flavors, and merch. A joy-filled tagline, “Seize the Yay,” sets the intention for the ice cream brand’s new era, and its refreshed logo “uses some of the circus-inspired typography and colors that were original to the brand but with a little more modern edge” to appeal to young—and grown-up—brand fans. Baskin-Robbins is also bringing a fresh perspective to ice cream with three new flavors including Mint Chocochunk, Totally Unwrapped, and Ube Coconut Swirl. Playing on young consumers’ interest in plant-based food, Mint Chocochunk is a non-dairy take on mint chocolate chip; Totally Unwrapped is a “deconstructed candy bar” featuring chocolate, peanut butter, fudge covered pretzels, caramel peanuts, and salted caramel; and Ube Coconut Swirl includes the sweet—and trendy—flavor of Ube, which is a purple yam native to the Philippines. And of course, nothing compliments a brand refresh quite like limited edition merch. Baskin-Robbins dropped its first official line of branded merchandise via ShopBaskinRobbins.com, where consumers can snag socks, t-shirts, a sweatshirt, and a Baskin-Robbins beach cruiser bike. The ice cream brand’s VP of Marketing and Culinary tells AdAge, “Any good transformation starts with some self-reflection, and we heard some uncomfortable truths. [Consumers] told us we were dated, that we skewed juvenile. Even though we were trusted, and had great equity, they saw us as a little childish, and we weren’t known for great innovation anymore. So it was important to us that we reinforced the positive and steered away from the negatives with this transformation. Part of that was growing the brand up, through product offerings and the way we show up to the world.”

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