What makes a brand meaningful? That’s the question that ecommerce marketing platform Klaviyo and retail media research startup Future Commerce attempt to answer in a new report about which brands are shaping the future that consumers want to see and why.
The report identifies nine different brand categories resonating with consumers, ranking nine brands within each category that are meeting consumer needs particularly well. Some of those categories roughly correspond with a generation, like the Gen Z-heavy category of consumers that the report identifies as CARLY—or, Can’t Afford Real Life Yet.
Other categories highlight brands that are creating particularly convenient ecommerce platforms, build and support local or online communities, popularized a new kind of luxury or have grown without raising outside capital.
Klaviyo and Future Commerce worked with industry experts, analysts, CEOs, activists and venture capitalists to analyze 287 brands, identifying themes in how consumers are responding to them. The resulting 81 brands listed in the report are ones that the authors see as “making this world a better place for all of those involved: from factory workers, to logistics teams, to customer experience personnel.”
“Brands are most beloved when they treat [consumers] more like people and less like consumers,” said Phillip Jackson, co-founder of Future Commerce. Based on the research, consumers see brands as meaningful when they are “rooted in their local communities and reinvesting back into the people that live there,” he said.
Still, that looks different depending on generation. “Where millennials prioritized brands that were globally recognized and had cultural significance, Gen Z gravitates toward niche players that are peer-group approved,” said Jackson.
To connect with CARLY, brands have to understand that Gen Zers see the world as “fundamentally flawed and unsafe,” said Jackson. While older brands have struggled to reflect the values of the younger generation, “newer, more niche, brands are rising to fill that gap.”
For each of the nine categories, here are the brands that the report highlights:
- Prime Challengers (referring to the brands that are doing the best job at competing against Amazon Prime): Target/Shipt, Facebook/Instagram, Shopify, Arfa, Hint, Instacart, Native/Procter & Gamble, Shoprunner, Public Goods
- New Luxury: StockX, Farfetch, Aesop, Aimé Leon Dore, Le Labo, Acne Studios, Sakara, Lord Jones, Haus
- CARLY (Can’t Afford Real Life Yet; essentially Gen Z): Kith, MSCHF, ThredUp, Parade Underwear, Starface, Man Repeller, Mad Happy, Crocs, Entireworld
- Community-Driven: Peloton, Rapha, Rhone, Rothy’s, Tracksmith, NoBull, Outdoor Voices, Blume, Flex
- Purpose-Driven: REI, Seventh Generation, Allbirds, Nudie Jeans, By Humankind, Bowery Farming, Janji, Blueland, Sunday
- Late-Stage Retail (highlighting brands that are working to reverse the inequitable consequences of late-stage capitalism): Patagonia, Peak Design, Everlane, King Arthur Flour, Pattern Brands, Armedangels, Known Supply, Christy Dawn, Able
- Audience-First: Disney, Yeezy, Glossier, Off-White, Ryan’s World, KonMari, Kylie Cosmetics, Magnolia, Good American
- Local Heroes: Chick-Fil-A, Costco, Square, Shinola, Publix, Thistle Farms, Trade Coffee, HEB, Ace Hardware
- 100 Club (brands that have resisted the allure of venture capital funding, or the “elite group of entrepreneurs”): New Balance, Chobani, Spanx, Eileen Fisher, Lunya, Frank and Eileen, Farmgirl Flowers, Supply Shaving, Industry West