Oct 29, 2019
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Nike, Vans and Adidas seen as most authentic brands by Gen Z in the UK

Oct 29, 2019

In a saturated landscape of competing brands and online startups, fashion brands must strive for authenticity to attract Generation Z consumers.

But what does authenticity mean for younger shoppers when it comes to fashion and sportswear brands?


According to a new study, UK consumers aged 16-24 think authenticity is about caring about customers (71%) and a good range of clothes (71%). 

Being true to their values, being friendly, and caring about their employees are also highly rated among the younger generation (all 66%), however younger audiences in the UK are much more likely to attach importance to factors relating to good corporate social responsibility, said the report.

The survey of 2,000 Brits, half of whom were aged 16-24, was carried out jointly by broadcaster ITV and media agency UM to determine how consumers define ‘authenticity’ for fashion and sportswear brands.

It found that 62% of Gen-Z shoppers think that fashion advertising needs to show ‘realistic people’ if it is to be seen as authentic, and 58% would like to see people of different body types in ads.

Sportswear comes out on top

Interestingly, sportswear brands are more likely to be seen as authentic by the young generation than purely fashion businesses.

Indeed, Nike (64%), Vans (63%) and Adidas (63%) emerged as the three most authentic brands according to those aged 16-24, and the five highest-scoring brands were all sportswear.

The ‘most authentic’ non-sportswear fashion labels were Timberland (59%), Ralph Lauren (58%) and Tommy Hilfiger (56%), while the three most authentic fashion retailers were Asos (55%), Topshop (51%) and River Island (49%).

“Authenticity has a strong relationship with brand love, consideration and purchase intent. It should be considered a key part of any fashion brand’s identity and its advertising, particularly on TV and video,” commented Glenn Gowen, head of audiences at ITV.

“Younger audience are more aware and in-tune with societal causes and activism. They want brands to embrace these values as well. However, they’re savvy and will know if a brand is not being true to itself. It really does pay to be genuine.”
George McMahon, senior insight executive at UM, adds: “Brands that put authenticity at the top of the fashion agenda are likely to connect with younger audiences. 16-24-year-olds also want the fashion industry to support causes and act to make everyone feel like they can be happy in their own bodies. It’s a key part of being seen as authentic.
“Hearing and seeing inspiring messages in clothing adverts, combined with seeing a wider range of body types, helps brands tell the stories young people want to hear.”

The survey found that video is key in building authenticity, as more than half of Generation Z say video advertising is important if fashion brands want to appear authentic.

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