Consumer Behavior of the SUPREME (Z) generation. You won’t get it, but at least be aware of it

RET2082 [Roy Tertman]
6 min readJan 5, 2018

SUPREME is a NYC based skateboarding company, started by James Jebbia in 1993. Today you can find their T-shirts starting at 800$, collaborating with Louis Vuitton, and literally every pop, street, art and fashion artist are proud to have at least one item by the brand. Why?

source: Supreme New York

Here’s the thing, if you’re marketing a product today you have to take into consideration how to makret to Millennials (Gen-Y’ers) right? but when you search or try to learn how (even interviewing some people of that age) the answers are somewhat vague or unclear as to how to best design your strategy.
We read the posts, follow what brands are doing, and even pay for data to help us figure out what to do, but they are just so elusive and volatile, and often — there isn’t a “right way” to do things like with earlier generations.

At Fitfully, i spent a lot of time working with Adidas (our strategic partner) in understanding what they do and what they learned from trying many different things. The best example is the Kanye<>Yeezy sub brand.
if you’re not aware, Adidas has partnered with Kanye (and this brand Yeezy) a long time ago to create various capsule collections. The problem for them was, that this generation sees Kanye as the brand and Adidas is just along for the ride, and the idea of what will happen if Kanye chooses to go elsewhe kinda “scared” them…

We can’t apply the same old Consumer Behavior (CB) to the next generation of consumers.

Let’s start with a thought exercise.

Imagine you are 5 years old (born 2012 at the this post was written) and your parents tell you something like “money doesn't grow on trees”, now you hear this and you are intrigued, so what do you do? of course, check it online (as many of you will do now) and what info will you get? well, you will probably get thats its true, there’s isn't a money tree yet, but you will also find content such as “so how can we grow it ourselves?” and herein lies tons of applicable info about how to make money.

If it’s a bit weird to imagine it is because you have no idea what it is to grow up with literally ALL the human knowledge at the tip of your fingers — Gen-Y’ers do.

So if they “know it all”, how will the existing challenges be addressed in how we normally analyze consumer behavior metrics, such as brand loyalty, pricing, research, post-purchase behavior, etc.

i’ve narrowed it down to the following:
1. Price: when is price irrelevant? how to make it irrelevant
2. Attention: the world is designed against us
3. Evaluations (research): They can and will know everything about you
4. Impulse buying: this is a pure online game now
5. Honest marketing: don’t lie. ever!
6. The Experience: focusing on Muslow’s top 2 levels
7. Content: here, right here is what it’s all about

1. Price

You’d think i’ll have a lot to discuss here but it turns out, price with Gen-Y’ers and all the CB analysis that goes a long with it points to pretty much the same thing as older generations, meaning they are price sensitive above all other metrics in purchase behavior, 62% according to a recent study. This makes sense in a few levels: A- money is money, and prices rise on some things and fall on others. B- Y’ers can price compare the s#!t out of everything. C- the price levels are more accurate. Let’s discuss C as its the interesting one. Now that we have tons of commerce and eCommerce data its easier to categorically and mathematically arrange products to many many different levels of value, so consumers have more, for a lack of a better word — buckets, to qualify and quantify a purchase just from the price point. lets assume: 1–25$ — no brainer, 25–100$-mmm yeah it will make me feel good now and i’m worth it, >100$, classic CB purchase behavior. We can spend hours arguing about the pricing steps but the point is that there are clearer buckets for consumers to almost instantaneously (its a subconscious thing) make the first purchasing decision.
Price is here to stay, but if you can, use the pricing strategy or at least be aware of how it may be perceived by Gen-Y’ers — your pricing will immediately be categorized and set the rest of the CB funnel towards decision making.

2. Attention!

The world is designed against us.
if you think time is the most valuable thing in life, think about what time mostly represents, if i’m giving my time to something i’m giving my attention to something. Most if not all tech companies inherently design the experience to be captivating and capture our attention, the longer they have my attention the more time i’m spending knowing, researching and learning about their brand/product — which eventually will turn into my CB towards them.
The challenge for us will be, in a sea of messages — how will i make mine stick?? to be honest, the answer is a combination of all the items in this post :)

3. Evaluations (research)

They will check and you can bet the farm they will check. so make sure to even check if there’s a hidden Wikipedia entry that might not be the best thing or even true, once its on the internet, its very hard to argue with Gen-Y’ers, accept that, and know that the power of an individual in a social networking world can bring you down

4. Impulse buying

Very characteristic of ecommerce CB but most Gen-Y’ers are shopping online so its applicable. But here is another way of looking at impulse-to-value ratio. For example: it's worth spending money now on this opportunity to capture this celebrity at this event as the memory will last forever and be well manipulated and communicated (and sometimes profited of) for various purposes. So i will spend the entrance fee to that specific event in order to capture, document and share the experience. it makes the impulse justified in the eyes of consumers and a lot of companies are using that, make it about the long lasting experience and the fact that today memories are much more vivid and shareable.

5. Honest marketing

It’s in the way the language changed from a corporate tone to a more colloquial and straightforward-no-bullshit tone. its not necessarily about authenticity, because for example, i cant verify Boosted Boards actually use a green factory but i can choose to believe they’re honest and read about who they are in person and what they believe in to make myself secure enough that this is true, and because they know their target audience well, they know they (I) will check.
Stop using words like “revolutionize”, “Re-imagine”, “Paradigm shifting” and super superlatives like that, it actually accomplishes the opposite in Gen-Y’ers eyes.

6. Re-define experience

The experience has changed, it's about time we admit that almost every brand tries to appeal to the top two layers of Muslow’s hierarchy of needs. Yes, everybody is into making a world a better place. Again, it’s too broad to have a clear guideline as to what you can do about your experience, but in my personal experience, learning and trying things — showed me it’s about going one step above the normal cohorts. Go above race, specific age, social status, life aspirations, lifestyle, etc. see them as one in a see of sub-social-groups, Gen-Y’ers certainly do.

7. Content

Or original content, identifiable content, funny, clever, social, self-humorus, honest. The boarders between occupations and forms of art (digital art) are fading quickly, sharing economy made everyone do their stuff on the internet regardless if its tech or not, and most use pretty much the same platforms (YouTube, FB, Instagram, Fiverr, eBay, etc.) to share content. So a carpenter can have a successful YouTube channel, an accountant can have a beautiful instagram page— it all contributes to the language Gen-y’ers are expecting to interact with brands/products, hence the proliferation and enduring success of social media. Sharing is more than a button, it’s a statement and a product ‘s inherit feature.

The conclusion is, aspire to join forces or collaborate with other brands/products/individuals, it doesn't necessarily need to be directly connected to what you do, keep in mind: the boarders are fading and the clear target audience segment as well. Be yourself as much as you can and bring as much of yourself into your product/brand — just became one of the best pieces of advice today :)

have a great weekend…

Read more how 70% of our communication is not verbal — and how can we use that face to our advantage



RET2082 [Roy Tertman]

i write stuff 'cause my therapist told me its good for my mental health, She was right! …. Aggressive Blader | JBC | XCCV 🕺 i do Biz Dev & Strategy for SaaS