Based on data from Harris Brand Platform, Ad Age released its third quarterly Gen Z Brand Tracker at the end of July. This tracker ranks the top 20 brands by brand equity growth among Gen Z consumers across all industries.

Brand equity represents the overall value consumers see in a brand. Equity growth shows that consumer brand perception is becoming increasingly favorable over time. With Gen Z respondents, Kraft Heinz ranked 18th this quarter, with a +5.7 increase in brand equity from Q1 (42.3) to Q2 (48.0), 2022.

So why the jump in brand equity among Gen Z?

A commitment to sustainability

Heinz ketchup is instantly recognizable in its iconic glass (released in 1890) and later plastic (1983) bottles. But the brand is evolving past these famous containers, developing a package that’s also good for the planet.

In an effort towards sustainability, Heinz announced in May that they would be transitioning to paper ketchup bottles. This new condiment container will be made from 100% sustainably sourced (and recyclable) wood pulp. While it is an exciting ecological advancement, consumers have to wait a while longer to squeeze ketchup out of paper. Heinz is still developing their sustainable packaging prototype. Once designed, the container will undergo rigorous testing before eventually reaching grocery shelves.

This is not the company’s first foray into going green. Kraft Heinz had previously announced that the company plans for all their products to have recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging by 2025. By 2050, they hope their efforts will achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Kraft Heinz’s new paper ketchup bottle, and overall commitment to sustainability, would appeal to ecologically-minded Gen Z consumers. While many Americans care about preserving the natural environment, Gen Z tends to be more socially conscious, focused on sustainability, and dedicated to fighting climate change than older generations. This new packaging could give Heinz a leg up with Gen Z consumers over their not-as-sustainable ketchup competitors.

A rebrand grounded in nostalgia

One of America’s great comfort foods is getting a makeover. Kraft’s Macaroni and Cheese is shortening its name to “mac & cheese,” a move reminiscent of rapper Kanye’s 2018 syllable drop to Ye. In Kraft’s case, they wanted to align the brand name with consumers’ colloquial name for the food, adding a layer of homey coziness to the brand.

The food’s blue packaging is also getting an update, with the classic noodle smile now dripping with gooey, warm cheese. The new boxes will hit stores this month.

With this update, Kraft is leaning into mac and cheese’s identity as the ultimate comfort food. The rebrand offers Gen Z a warm and fuzzy hit of nostalgia, harkening back to their days at mom’s table. It also appeals to this generation’s prioritization of self-care, offering a comforting meal option that fills the body and soothes the mind.

A hot bowl of Kraft’s newly rebranded mac & cheese may be just what Gen Z is craving after a stressful day.

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Catherine Ake

Content Strategist

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