NEW YORK — It may be tough for brands to win over Gen Z, but those that do could reap rewards for a very long time. 

A new study from DeVries Global finds that Gen Z’s world is an unpredictable one, with nearly half (49%) of the young consumers going to sleep at night with no idea of what the next day will have in store. “Inconsistent” and “unpredictable” is how 40% of survey respondents described their lives.

Which doesn’t mean they don’t want some sense of stability, given that 63% of Gen Z is already stressed out about their future.

That's where brand opportunity comes in. Although companies may have to jump through more than the usual hoops to win over Gen Z there could be long-term payoffs. 76% of the 1,193 respondents aged 15-24 said they are indeed loyal to favorite brands; 51% said they already are committed to one.

For Gen Z, that commitment to brands is grounded in, first, reliability, then design (“looks”), respect, fun and intelligence. And commitment comes with some benefits for companies. 60% say they will recommend a brand to other people, 42% say they will pay a higher price and nearly a quarter won’t even look at a competitive brand.

Which is in line with some of the study’s other findings. 69% of Gen Z finds comfort in the familiar, and 85% prefers buying familiar brands over new or non-mainstream brands. Familiarity alone, however, doesn’t cut it with this group. They expect brands to have value, consistency and a desire to make the world a better place as well.

“Brands might assume that a younger, social media-driven audience favors trendy, surprising and popular brands, but our findings indicate otherwise,” said DeVries Global chief strategy & creative officer Loretta Markevics.  “We know that Gen Z is looking for more from brands in general. They want a reason to belong to their brand’s tribe and demonstrable actions from a brand that reinforce to Gen Zers they made the right choice. This connection at a values level is table stakes for an audience that craves not just brand connection but familiarity and consistency. Companies that understand this will see tremendous value from this audience." 

Not many industries have yet to grasp that, however, the study found. Only three sectors (technology, snack foods and restaurants) are identified as understanding Gen Z by more than 50% of respondents.

These goals are not unrealistic, said DeVries Global's global EVP of business intelligence, Colby Vogt. “If you think you’re ready to start a truly committed relationship with Gen Z, at the very least, do these three things now – Bolster your YouTube presence. It is their search engine, so if you’re not there, they likely won’t find you. Ensure others are talking about you. Gen Z says the clout of influencers will only increase in the future. And lastly, get your executives walking the talk. Gen Z sees company and brand as virtually the same and they follow business executives at a higher rate than any other generation. So get your executives talking in a language Gen Z will understand and appreciate. Even small changes can increase your chances of Gen Z commitment.”