Understanding Gen Z: Tactics for Brazil and Beyond

As internationally focused businesses navigate the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions, other factors that play into a global business strategy remain constant. Understanding customer preferences is one of these factors. Here we explore the nuances of the rising Gen Z market, with a focus on Brazil.

Worldwide, the profile of the younger customer is changing. For years, the Millennial (those born between 1981-1996) dominated headlines. As this group gets older and moves toward middle age, Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2010) is on the rise.

Gen Z is the first generation existing largely in the 21st century. These consumers are true digital natives. A phone or tablet in their hands and immediate access to media, products, and friends is not a novelty—it’s how the world works. And Gen Zers are influencers, especially at home. Over 70% of parents say their Gen Z children influence buying decisions for the entire household, from clothes to the food that goes on the table.

But like the Boomers, Gen X and Millennials before them, Gen Z is not a monolith worldwide. In individual markets, the preferences and habits of these customers are shaped by the local landscape (rural vs. urban, for example), tech availability, the politics around them, and more.

Here we explore the similarities and differences of Gen Z, with a focus on Brazil, where 62% of the population is aged 29 or under.

Gen Z worldwide: Conscious and “real,” with new modes of consumption

Worldwide, companies that target the youth market will need to reconsider many things in their shift to Gen Z: in positioning, advertising, and even the delivery of the product itself. Some questions to consider when targeting Gen Z:

What’s the story behind your product or service?  How do you source your ingredients and materials? What are your company’s labor practices?

Gen Zers want to know the answers to these questions and more. While previous generations have often been called “me” generations, Gen Zers could be considered the “we” generation, focused on ethical consumption and community. A report profiling Gen Z in Brazil states, “The main spur to consumption is the search for truth, in both a personal and a communal form.”

How will you be positioning and marketing your product to the Gen Z customer?

The report continues: “[Gen Z’s] search for authenticity generates greater freedom of expression and greater openness to understanding different kinds of people.”

This means that Gen Z-focused companies may need to explore different channels, tactics, branding, and influencer types. Think personal style and value over designer labels, and the “real, raw, relatable” videos of video sharing app TikTok, rather than the curated highlight reels of Instagram.

How will this customer be consuming your product or service? For Gen Z, consumption is not about ownership; it’s about access. This customer has grown up in a world where people stream movies and music, “share” automobiles, “rent” the runway, and have monthly subscriptions for everything from beauty products and shaving supplies to cooking ingredients.

The tried-and-true model of a traditional sale leading to permanent product ownership may not appeal—or even be feasible given the daunting educational debt and stagnating economic prospects many youth  are facing today. It behooves a Gen Z-focused global company to expand their thinking about product delivery and payment.

Regional spotlight: Gen Z in Brazil

“Brazil’s Gen Z has a unique outlook,” stated a report by JWT Intelligence. They’re ambitious about their role in the future but jaded about institutions. Despite 77% of those surveyed agreeing that men and women today are “pretty much equal”, one teen remarked, “Brazil is still quite conservative, I think.”

Technology has been a pervasive influence. In a study by Dell, 85% of Brazilian teens polled said they are would like to work in the tech sector, with 94% stating that the technological advancement of prospective employers would be a key factor when applying for a job.

An international relations student from a city near Sao Paolo considers herself “very engaged with social media,” doing film/video editing on YouTube during her free time. She said that Gen Z in Brazil is particularly aware of the power of technology and the internet, compared with her peers in Europe and the United States.

“Wi-Fi is found almost everywhere in Brazil (e.g. public square, bus stop), so people who can’t afford internet at home can still use WhatsApp and Wi-Fi outside of the home,” she said, adding that many Brazilians look up to social media stars like Whindersson Nunes, a laborer who became a very successful YouTuber and comedian.

Yet young Brazilians’ dreams have been tempered by harsh realities. Despite some promising economic conditions in their earlier years, poverty and inequality had been rising even before the COVID-19 pandemic, and this affects this rising generation’s mindset. In the words of one Gen Zer from the state of Bahia: “I don’t believe this talk of investing in the dream and all that. Work is work.”

Now with COVID-19, unequal access to digital tools, connectivity, and training may leave even more youth at risk of falling behind.

“Brazil is facing this unprecedented situation in an area that traditionally does not have a culture of digital, remote work, or distance education. This is new and complex for those who are working with basic education in public and private schools,” National Council of Education advisor Maria Helena Guimarães de Castro said in a World Bank webinar.

What can a Gen Z-focused global company learn from the Brazil example? When evaluating a new market:

  • Recognize surrounding economic realities, and the consumer mindsets that result
  • Localize for language and culture
  • Understand on-the-ground technology landscape and usage—so you can reach the Gen Z consumer where they learn about, talk about, and consume products


For help understanding Gen Z customers in an emerging market, contact 360 Zolo Solutions. Our consultants and advisors can help find the best solutions for you.