Embrace Your Oldness: It’s What Gen Z Craves

Your Marketing Co. recently partnered with Helixa to help better understand our credit union marketing clients’ ideal members. Rather than hopeful guessing, we’re using the Helixa platform to help connect our clients in a more deep and meaningful way with their ideal members. It’s an amazingly powerful tool that has already proven valuable in helping our credit union marketing clients connect with more members and spur membership growth.

Another invaluable piece of this partnership is the research and data shared with us. One such piece is a report on the importance of leveraging brand legacy to connect with Gen Z. One more recent example is the re-emergence of Gap as a beloved brand among the next generation. In the fall of 2020, Gap announced it would be closing approximately 350 Gap and Banana Republic stores across North America by the end of 2023. That’s a sure sign of becoming the next Blockbuster – or is it?

One month before Gap’s announcement, Gen Z social influencer Emma Chamberlain posted a series of photos of herself wearing a vintage Gap hoodie on Instagram and all of a sudden Gap was a hot brand. One of her posts garnered more than 2.4 million likes and 10K comments. How did this dying brand suddenly become popular with a generation who wasn’t much familiar with the Gap brand? They were digging the vintage feel, and all of the sudden it was cool again.

Chamberlain’s fans flooded TikTok with their love for the Gap hoodie. A glutton of other TikTok influencers and users started including this very vintage hoodie in 2021 trend predictions and outfit inspiration videos. TikTok user @natalielanghorne credited Chamberlain in her “2021 fashion trend alert ​” video and claimed that people love the hoodie for its vintage look and neutral colors. According to Natalie, Gap sweatshirts are now “Nike sweatshirt’s cool cousin.”

Gap’s marketing team realized it had hit the jackpot and capitalized on this trend and in June 2021, dropped a limited-issue release of its brown-logo hoodies. They understood TikTok played an important role in the brand’s revival, so they also launched a two-week partnership called the “Gap Hoodie Color Comeback” competition on the app. TikTok users were able to vote through interactive polls on posts from Gap and select TikTok creators. The color that got the most votes is currently being sold in stores this fall. Those Gap vintage logo hoodies are now selling for more than $200 on resale sites like Depop and Grailed.

And just like that, it looks like Gap has a new lease on life thanks to one social influencer.

But GAP isn’t the only brand tapping into Gen Z’s love of nostalgia. Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister Co. started incorporating nostalgia marketing with their Gen Z and millennial audiences as well as Victoria’s Secret. The challenge for those brands is to do so strategically and approach their new consumers authentically and inclusively while tapping into their childhood memories. 

So, what about your credit union? If what’s old is new again, your credit union has the chance to tap into the heritage of your “why” and mission and vision to appeal to that coveted Gen Z market (who by the way needs a good dose of financial coaching whether they want it or not). We’re currently utilizing the Helixa tool to uncover local influencers who can help our credit union marketing clients share their stories authentically on the platforms where their future members live. And yes, we can do that for you, too. We’re an email away to schedule an introductory call to see whether we’re a fit for each other.

Embrace The Old!

From strat plans to rebrands, YMC President and CEO, Bo, is passionate about helping financial institutions come up with a winning formula. If you’re ready to go beyond the SWOT, you can email him at bo@yourmarketingco.com.

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