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STATE OF PLAY

Gen Z consumers are making companies bend to their will

Jackson Gibbs for Quartz
  • Sarah Todd
By Sarah Todd

Senior reporter, Quartz and Quartz at Work

Once upon a time, not so long ago, brands had a fair amount of influence over what teenagers thought was cool. Magazine advertisements, star-studded TV commercials, and canny product placements played a big role in persuading young people to invest in everything from the Calvin Klein perfume CK One in the 1990s to the T-Mobile Sidekick in the 2000s.

Appealing to teens these days is as important as ever for businesses. Gen Z makes up 40% of global consumers today, with about $150 billion in spending power in the US alone, according to the consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

But online culture has upended the traditional relationship between influencers and influencees. This generation has never known life without smartphones and social media. Thatโ€™s allowed teens to wrest power away from brands and traditional cultural gatekeepers. Companies hoping to appeal to this demographic will have to follow Gen Zโ€™s lead.

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