What the ‘Hot Girl Walk’ trend can teach businesses about Gen Z

Tammy Perl

By Tammy Perl

Firstly, it’s not what you think it is. The ‘Hot Girl Walk’ fitness trend was coined by TikTok user Mia Lind (@exactlyliketheothergirls) back in 2021. It’s a four-mile daily walk with a focus on mindfulness and thinking about three key things: being grateful, your goals, and feeling good about yourself.

The aim is to merge positive thinking with positive behaviours that simultaneously improve mental and physical health. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Gen Z trend if it didn’t include some kind of uniform: pastel cycling shorts and sports bra co-ords are key, with a bum bag, over-ear headphones and an ‘emotional support water bottle’ (yes – that’s a whole other trend) as vital accessories.

With a spending power of over $360 billion and growing, Gen Z are still the consumers to target. If you make products or offer services for this audience, a hashtag on TikTok with over 600 million views is not a trend to ignore. The movement’s virality teaches us that mistaking the ‘Hot Girl Walk’ for something frivolous and superficial understates its cultural importance. So, what does the ‘Hot Girl Walk’ teach us about Gen Z?

Gen Z are the ultimate brand managers

They know how to take something that’s not that cool, unique, or interesting and reinvent it into a product or experience that anyone can try. Somehow, they’ve managed to turn the simple act of going for a walk into a must-have immersive and multi-sensorial experience. The ‘Hot Girl Walk’ offers a masterclass in Gen Z branding with its three essential components; a simple message, a cohesive visual identity, and a positive purpose.

Tribalism is out, collective individualism is in

Authenticity and a ‘you-do-you' attitude are crucial, but not at the detriment of community. Gen Z’s pursuits may be individual, but they also have a strong desire to connect with others. Taking part in viral trends enables them to focus on their own goals whilst simultaneously creating a sense of belonging. Of course, the ‘uniform’ goes some way to help. When you’re out on your walk and spot someone in the same attire, a knowing nod will covertly signal that IYKYK*. To embrace collective individualism, brands should create spaces that allow Gen Z to be their authentic selves, for example through customisable products and services. In doing so, Gen Z can express their individuality and in turn, connect with others through their shared values.

Mental and physical health are inextricably linked

Self-care has become the umbrella term for looking after your physical and mental health. Gen Z have an inherent understanding of holistic wellness, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. They know physical activity aids their mental health and prioritise activities that nurture both. Gen Z aren’t afraid to have conversations about their mental health and will weave this into everything they do. It’s not ground-breaking news but brands, particularly within the fitness and wellness space, shouldn’t be afraid to embrace the mental health conversation, it only helps to appeal to this side of Gen Z. After all, vulnerability is strength.

Being present is the ultimate goal

The ‘Hot Girl Walk’ exemplifies Gen Z’s belief that there’s more to life than striving for an end-goal. Many want to take pleasure in the process - feeling the present, enjoying the whole journey and romanticising the mundane elements of the everyday brings the greatest joy and should be prioritised above all else. We know that Gen Z aren’t going to fall for overstated promises and that’s not what they’re looking for either. Brands should find ways to help Gen Z stay present – for example, celebrating wins that make every day more enjoyable.

Contradictions should be embraced

Gen Z reject being put in boxes. Being fluid and nuanced is in their DNA and embracing contradictions is inherent to this approach to life. Who says you can’t work on your mental health whilst also engaging with viral trends on TikTok? Whilst from the outside these may seem like opposing traits, knowing they equate to overall wellness makes total Gen Z sense. To truly understand Gen Z, we need to be comfortable with inconsistencies. This isn’t about brands appealing to every aspect of Gen Z; they should pick an angle and be comfortable with their stance. After all, if you're unapologetically you, Gen Z will find a way to make sense of your authenticity within their ecosystem.

More than a hashtag

Understanding the ‘Hot Girl Walk’ movement shows us that staying on the pulse is more than just knowing the newest viral trend. If we dig deeper, viral trends help us unlock valuable human insights about the consumers we aim to target. So, prioritise understanding viral trends and look at things from a Gen Z perspective. Really focus on putting yourself in their shoes… We mean it, grab your shoes and positive mental attitude, a ‘Hot Girl Walk’ awaits!

* IYKYK = if you know you know. And if you’ve had to look for the asterisks… you really need to know!

About the authors

Tammy Perl
Tammy Perl PA brand strategy and consumer insight expert

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