It would stand to reason that not all brands appeal to all generations. After all, the best brands are clear about who their target audience is. But what can brands do if they are considered unappealing by a demographic they do want to reach?

A good place to look for guidance is those unique brands that fare well with most people. The 2019 Brand Alpha study which gauges consumer sentiment around brands based on four key pillars – Vitality, Visibility, Virtue and Value – offers up several great ‘all-rounders’ to consider.

Whittaker’s, Air New Zealand and the All Blacks fit the bill as they outperform on all V-factors.  These brands sustain high Visibility in the market, offer clear and relevant Value to their users, have warm and relatable personalities and are seen to have a purpose that extends beyond the purely commercial. There’s no question these brands also endure given their strong Kiwi accents; they exemplify – and celebrate – the Kiwi character. 

Elsewhere, Trade Me, Amazon and Uber transcend the generations by delivering crystal clear value to the masses in a fresh and vibrant way. We describe them as next-generation utilities, yet ones with considerably more colour than the average power or water company.

Nike successfully appeals to multiple generations sustaining category leadership in Visibility, Value and Vitality – it remains the defining high-performance athletic brand, through a combination of high marketing spend and growing investment in digital brand experience and social channels. It’s a classic ‘push brand’ that masterfully balances its investments in paid, owned and earned channels.

These are the standout brands that transcend generations. But not all brands are so fortunate and there’s insight to be gained from looking to the brands that appeal to younger people versus those that are favoured by older generations.

Centennial and Millennials (16-to-35-year olds) are especially tough on mature technology brands such as Sky, Facebook, Spark and Vodafone. These brands fall short of young Kiwis’ expectations around Vitality – they’re simply not as exciting as they ought to be. Most significantly, they are lacking in the Virtue stakes. Young Kiwis struggle to see these brands as having a clear and motivating sense of purpose beyond making money. This generation is also growing distant from heartland brands such as BNZ, Anchor, Wattie’s and TipTop. These brands are losing top of mind relevance, again, driven by a serious deficit in perceived Vitality.

It’s interesting to match up the weakest and strongest brands by sector, in the view of Centennials and Millennials.


At the other end of the spectrum, older Boomers and Pre WW2 Kiwis (60+) simply aren’t as receptive to new brands so even Brand Alpha leaders such as ecostore, Icebreaker and Lewis Road Creamery don’t yet enjoy majority brand awareness with this audience. In common with the young, older Kiwis are also distant from homegrown technology brands Spark and Sky, marking them down on Value and Vitality. These brands struggle to substantiate the everyday value they provide and fundamentally lack excitement, even in the view of New Zealand’s oldest citizens.

So how can these brands reclaim the missing territories?

The way forward really depends upon their particular V-factor strengths and weaknesses. For brands struggling against category disruptors, there’s often a need to revisit the fundamental Value proposition of the brand – to reimagine why Kiwis should make your brand an everyday part of their lives. 

If your brand is more a victim of slow and steady decline, the opportunity is to review your brand’s sense of purpose which underpins the brand’s Virtue and to re-express that purpose in a much more vibrant and relatable way.  

Ultimately the goal is to balance the brand’s strength in the market – reflected through strong Visibility and Value scores – with strength in your customers’ minds – think strong Vitality and Virtue. Sustained Brand Alpha performance can’t be unlocked without strong delivery on both dimensions.