Forty percent—that’s the market share Kelton Global, a consumer insight and consulting firm, says Gen Z will hold in 2020. One of the most publicized members of Gen Z, defined as those born in the late 1990s and early 2000s, is Greta Thunberg, who only turned 17 in January. Thunberg was recently named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for her activism on climate change.
So what’s different?
In their survey of 1,000 Gen Z’ers, Kelton discovered that 60percenthave a distrust of brand messaging. In addition, they found that 8percentbelieve brands just care about profit while trying to appear “cool.” Like Thunberg, Gen Z’ers feel responsible for making change and taking action. They’re better informed than previous generations, and more conscious. They’re more inclusive and embracing of other identities, and besides playing games and texting friends, they’re also seeking truth, while organizing and exchanging information.
For companies thinking this generation are just kids, there’s more to ponder. Gen Z holds $29 billion in purchase power and more than $333 billion in influence, according to Kelton—and for companies who don’t take this generation seriously, their values are likely to lose a big share of the market.
Plugging in to Gen Z
Against this backdrop of Gen Z’s attitudes about business, companies wishing to appeal to this generation must be even more transparent and genuine. According to the report, they want brands that have a higher purpose (64percent) and help them be their best selves (48percent). But probably most important of all, Gen Z’ers desire brands that come through with what they said they were going to do (58percent). Gen Z’ers respond favorably to recommendations from friends. This is where positive customer comments and recommendations can be invaluable, as Kelton reported 51percentof respondents don’t think brands keep their promises.
Before implementing things to appeal to Gen Z, companies would do better to first assess their culture, influencer marketing and values. An internal audit to identify company values and how they match up with Gen Z’ers would help as well as answering questions about community activities and grants the company is engaged in. Surveys and focus groups can also be very valuable in discovering Gen Z perceptions and attitudes.
Some companies have discovered the value of advisory councils. An advisory council comprised of Gen Z’ers within the community can offer valuable insights from things like their perception of the company brand to reputation and advertising. Brands that have enough employees who are Gen Z’ers might also pick their brains.
Other possible ways of interfacing and understanding Gen Z’ers is by following and even hosting social media or digital pr conversations on platforms like Reddit, TikTok or Instagram. Capturing the essence of their feedback and sharing it with the appropriate departments will also help.
Whichever methodologies or venues are chosen, capture other important things like potential shifts in taste, values and trends so the company can anticipate and possibly get ahead of some things.
Most important takeaway
Opening up the company to Gen Z’ers and listening to them is one step. Pledging to do certain things or act on others is another. What’s important to maintain trust and loyalty is that the company stay true to its word and be open and transparent. The other critical leg is to engage Gen Z whenever possible. Invite them to become involved in whatever the company is doing, either in the community or through an advisory committee. Give them ownership and a voice.