How to engage Gen Z just like Adidas and Walmart

How to engage Gen Z just like Adidas and Walmart

What are the most effective ways of engaging a group whose spending and consumption habits aren’t exactly traditional?

The question is not whether companies should market to Gen Zs—it’s how? What are the most effective ways of engaging a group whose spending and consumption habits aren’t exactly traditional? Although most brands are still asking these questions, legacy companies like Adidas and Walmart, which have thrived through countless market fluctuations, technological upheavals, and cultural shifts, may already have the answers.


Product-focused sales have become tacky, especially for a generation that values authenticity and engagement. And, as Jeremy Finch wrote for Fast Company way back in 2015, “Gen Z have a carefully tuned radar for being sold to and a limited amount of time and energy to spend assessing whether something’s worth their time.” What works instead is creating immersive narratives that offer unique journeys, personalized services, and memories that transcend the product’s functionalities.

Adidas is appealing to Gen Z through digital assets like NFTs. “For many brands and consumers, the value of NFTs doesn’t come from the token itself, but from the sense of community built around it,” says Rohan Handa, senior vice president for business development at Horizen Labs Ventures, a digital asset advisory and solutions platform. “It creates a shared experience and exclusivity that draws people in [and] for a population that evolved with Web 2.0, social media, and the mobile-market Web, it is normal that Gen Z users value their digital identity more than people from Gen X, who sometimes don’t even have one.”

This is why Adidas’ first NFT launch in 2021, themed “Into the Metaverse,” minted all 30,000 of its NFTs and amassed up to $22 million in sales in hours. Fast forward to 2023 and the brand has launched the third and final phase of the project, with perks like exclusive access to certain offers and increased interactions.

Walmart, on the other hand, has plans to create two immersive Roblox gaming experiences—Walmart Land for buying virtual merchandise and Walmart’s Universe of Play for toy games. This, according to Walmart’s marketing chief William White, is a strategy to “increase brand favorability with younger audiences” and “drive relevance in cultural conversations.”

“Gen Z is a digital-first cohort [and] digital identities matter to these participants,” says Horizen Labs Ventures’ Handa. “Digital avatars like those done by Ready Player Me, in-game skins/assets similar to the ones in Fortnite and Roblox, ticketing and token-gated sales by Ticketmaster, and collectible NFTs like NBA top-shot are some top-of-mind use cases, and where a lot of Gen Z is headed.”

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