Gen Z will force brands to show their colors. Will you move inward or move forward?

Open the newspapers and you’ll notice rising levels of fear and anger amongst citizens. Polarization and hardening of manners are having its impact on society. With a strong impact on the mindset of the youngest generation, Gen Z. A mindset that brands need to take seriously. Because Gen Z is expecting a lot from them.

Although Gen Z is very pessimistic about the future, they still are more progressive compared to older generations and in favor of change. They want – and expect – the world and brands to move forward.

But the brutal truth is, they live in a world that is turning inwards instead of moving forwards. A typical societal reflection happening in times of crisis. People come to distrust governments and multinationals. Levels of tolerance decrease and populism is rising. People favor more nationalistic views, local brands and simple truths.

And there lies the dilemma for brands. Should you follow the “inward” route, and affiliate more traditional values like security, stability, simple truths and a sense of nationalism? Are you going to emphasize your local heritage or role in local communities? Or will you join Gen Z in the movement forward, by supporting their views on the future and signs of realistic contributions to global challenges?

How would you strike a balance between turning inwards or moving forward?