Navigating Digital Experiences: Gen Z and CPG

CPG brands must meet Gen Z in the digital spaces where they live, communicate and make purchasing decisions.

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February 22, 2024

Navigating Digital Experiences: Gen Z and CPG

Digital experiences are shaping the way we interact, communicate, and consume. This is especially true for Gen Z, a generation that has grown up in the digital age and who is now a significant consumer segment for consumer packaged goods (CPG).

Gen Z stands out for their digital-first approach. They don’t merely consume digital content; they actively create, influence, and set trends. Their communication takes place through memes, viral challenges, and social media platforms. These diverse digital experiences present a landscape that brands must skillfully navigate.

For CPG companies, understanding Gen Z’s digital experiences is crucial. It’s not just about having a digital presence; it’s about integrating into the digital spaces where Gen Z lives, communicates, and makes purchasing decisions.

So, how can CPG brands optimize their digital experiences for Gen Z?

Engagement: Gen Z wants to be part of the conversation. They respond to brands that engage them in meaningful ways, whether it’s through interactive content, user-generated content, or opportunities for co-creation.

Convenience: In the world of consumer packaged goods, convenience is key. Gen Z values digital experiences that make their lives easier, whether it’s easy-to-navigate websites, seamless e-commerce experiences, or efficient customer service.

Authenticity: Gen Z values authenticity. They want to engage with brands that are transparent, socially responsible, and authentic in their digital interactions.

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How can CPG brands leverage Gen Z’s desire for engagement?

With the strategic push to delivering omnichannel experiences, it’s not enough to simply understand Gen Z’s behaviours and preferences. Brands must also anticipate future trends and actively involve consumers in the creation process. This is where the concepts of co-creation and strategic foresight come into play.

Together, co-creation and strategic foresight offer a powerful approach for navigating digital experiences. They allow brands to not only respond to Gen Z’s current needs and preferences but also anticipate future trends and actively involve consumers in the innovation process. By integrating these approaches into their strategy, CPG brands can ensure they are not just keeping up with the digital age but shaping it.

Co-creation is a participatory approach that involves consumers in design and innovation and…

  • Engages consumers in connective sessions to explore designers’ biases and assumptions
  • Ensures insights are embodied in the final product
  • Leads to more relevant, engaging digital experiences and fosters loyalty among Gen Z consumers
  • Could involve Gen Z in developing new experiences

Foresight involves imagining multiple plausible futures to develop effective business strategies that…

  • Focuses on signals of change to develop disruptive business model innovations
  • Allows brands to detect adverse conditions, proactively shape and stress-test strategy, and guide innovation
  • Helps CPG brands anticipate new digital platforms or predict how Gen Z digital behaviours might evolve

How can CPG brands ensure digital experiences are meaningful, seamless, and convenient?

To understand how Gen Z navigates digital channels, CPG brands need to do more than just watch; they need to participate actively through UX testing and design research. While UX research provides insights directly from users, design research dives deeper into understanding motivations and behaviours. These complementary approaches help brands discover how Gen Z behaves, what they need, and what they expect, thus allowing them to create more effective digital experiences.

To ensure meaningful, seamless, and convenient digital experiences for Gen Z, CPG brands can follow several key principles:

User Experience (UX) Testing: Brands should actively participate in UX testing to understand how Gen Z navigates digital channels. UX testing involves evaluating a product or service by testing it with representative users. For digital experiences, this could involve tasks like navigating a website, using an app, or interacting with a digital ad. The goal is to identify usability problems, gather qualitative and quantitative data, and determine participant satisfaction with the product.

Design Research: In addition to UX testing, brands can dive deeper into understanding Gen Z’s motivations and behaviors through design research. Design research is a holistic approach that seeks to understand not just how users interact with a product or service but why they do so. Methods like ethnography, surveys, and user personas help gain insights into Gen Z’s preferences and pain points. These techniques are especially useful when exploring omnichannel solutions.

For more information on our human-centred research and innovation services, click here.


And finally, how can CPG brands build lasting connections with Gen Z?


Simon Sinek believes, people don’t just buy products or services; they buy into the purpose, cause, or belief that drives actions and inspires others. This concept of “The Why” is especially relevant for CPG brands seeking to connect with Gen Z. And it is embedded in everything we do at RESEARCH STRATEGY GROUP.

For more on how we helped a Canadian food producer communicate their sustainability efforts in a believable way, without alienating their loyal customer base, click here.

To create meaningful and memorable digital experiences for Gen Z, CPG brands need to:

Understand Digital Behaviours: By studying Gen Z’s digital behaviours, brands can gain insights into their preferences, habits, and expectations. This understanding helps tailor digital experiences to resonate with this generation.

Anticipate Future Needs: Gen Z’s needs and preferences evolve rapidly. Brands must stay ahead by anticipating their future requirements. This involves staying informed about potential disruptions to their category and scenario planning to build resilient brand strategies.

Involve Gen Z in Design: Co-creation is essential. Brands should actively involve Gen Z in the design process. Methods like UX testing, human-centred design research, and foresight can provide valuable feedback and insights.

Align with “The Why”: CPG brands should align their digital experiences with their core purpose or belief—their “Why.” When brands communicate their purpose effectively, it resonates with Gen Z, who value authenticity and relevance.

CPG brands that focus on their purpose (their “Why”) can create engaging digital experiences that meet Gen Z’s expectations and aspirations. By understanding these principles, brands can build lasting connections with this influential generation.


Navigating digital experiences to drive growth

By understanding how Gen Z interacts with and responds to their digital channels, consumer packaged goods companies can create experiences that are not just usable, but meaningful and engaging. This, in turn, can drive loyalty, advocacy, and ultimately, growth for their brands. It’s about meeting Gen Z where they are and providing value in the digital spaces they inhabit.

You know you need to understand your Gen Z customers but, where to start? 

There are a lot of different techniques, tools, and technologies available. How can you assess their value for your business?  Our team is here to help! Get in touch with Managing Directors, Jim Peterson and Anne Coulter and walk away with an action plan.

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