Reaching Gen Z Through Sponsorship: Gen Z Consumer Trends

SponsorPulse Staff
  • May 3, 2022
  • SponsorPulse Staff
Gen Z knows what they want, and they have the purchase power to back it up. Learn how brands can reach Gen-Z through sponsorship that aligns with their values including sustainability, inclusivity, and purpose-driven branding.

Unlike previous generations, Gen Z has come of age in a hyper-connected and digitally driven era. Barriers to information have never been more surmountable, and social media and online communities have provided Gen Z with a front-row seat to global perspectives and events. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that this socially-conscious generation demands more from the brands they love. 

Gen Z knows what they want, and they have the purchase power to back it up. According to Bloomberg, the cohort has an impressive $360 billion in disposable income waiting to be spent supporting companies that align with their vision for the future. Check out these effective strategies for reaching Gen Z by aligning with the trends they connect with:

Purpose-Driven Branding

When it comes to marketing tactics, there’s no faking it with Gen Z. The cohort can detect inauthenticity from a mile away, and brands must walk the talk to earn their affections. 

To Gen Z, brands aren’t merely companies looking to turn a profit, but corporate citizens that should strive to give back to their communities. 

Take Nike, a Gen Z favorite. The athleticwear giant has made the grade with its purpose-driven branding that discards false advertising in favor of taking meaningful action in the world. Nike’s Made to Play initiative, for example, is a global commitment to get kids moving by working with local partners to increase girls participation in sports, particularly in marginalized communities.

The numbers don’t lie. Our data shows that 1 in 3 young Americans name Nike as the top unprompted brand in sports sponsorship. That’s more than double that of their competitor Adidas, and 10 times higher than that of the 3rd and 4th ranked apparel companies, Under Armour and Puma. The payoff of purpose, in Nike’s case, has been exponential.  


Gen Z is concerned about their future. With the effects of climate change growing each year, they’re looking to support brands that take their fears seriously. From TikTok’s green influencers calling out brands with sub-par sustainability practices, to the weekly climate change protests taking place across the globe, Gen Z understands the power that their voice has to shape brand narratives. They believe sustainable efforts are a key part of everyday life, from choosing to cycle instead of drive to school, to purchasing clothes made out of sustainable materials, to cooking with in-season produce.

In our research, we’ve found that among Gen Z aged 13-18, recycling and Goodwill, the used clothes and home goods store, are tied at 56% for highest engaged Cause properties. For those aged between 19-24, 57% are engaged with Goodwill, and 47% with recycling. 


When shopping second hand isn’t on the agenda, Gen Z prefers to turn their purchase consideration towards brands that emphasize the importance of sustainability. From Patagonia’s multipronged approach to environmental action that sets the bar sky high, to luxury fashion-house Gucci’s commitment to reduce their carbon footprint, it’s clear that Gen Z’s passion for the planet is having an immense impact. 

While getting serious on climate isn’t an overnight shift, taking the steps to become a climate-conscious brand is an excellent way to practice environmental stewardship while showing Gen Z you care about their future. 


Gen Z isn’t afraid of a little self-expression. From dismantling beauty standards to, to playing with the gender binary, the cohort has made major strides in support of inclusivity. In fact, according to AdWeek, Gen Z isn’t moved in the slightest by aspirational branding. Their focus? Inclusivity.

Gone are the days of brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, the subject of a new Netflix documentary, hiring “all-American” (read: white and blonde) models to work in their stores. From many brands, like Olay, committing to stop retouching their models, to LGBTQ-inclusive marketing initiatives like Sephora’s “We Belong to Something Beautiful” campaign, brands are doing their part to earn Gen Z’s seal of approval.

Embracing inclusivity not only positions your brand in a positive light, but additionally entices Gen Z to consider purchasing your product more. Among Gen Z, SponsorPulse data shows that 20% of 13-18 year-olds would consider purchasing a product from a company that supports social justice and anti-bullying causes. On the other hand, the older subsect of Gen Z, aged 19-24, funnels their support for inclusivity into brands that sponsor mental health initiatives, at 18% purchase consideration. After all, it’s widely known that the lack of representation in media has had negative mental health consequences for Gen Z. 


The SponsorPulse Edge

When it comes to sponsorships, there’s a clear link between Gen Z’s purchase consideration and cause properties. By harnessing the power of our robust database of metrics, brands can accurately determine how best to reach Gen Z through aligning themselves with the inclusive and sustainable future the generation is building each day.

Request a demo to learn more about how we cut through the noise of the sponsorship industry, one data point at a time.