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BLA: Gen Z forces brands to put planet & people before profit BLA: Gen Z forces brands to put planet & people before profit
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BLA: Gen Z forces brands to put planet & people before profit

Listen to the kids, bro

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While brands are still trying to win over the “difficult and demanding” millennials, a new generation is already taking over the spotlight: Generation Z. These youngsters, who are born in the mid-nineties (around or between 1994 to 1997), are now entering the job market and starting to increase their discretionary income. It is predicted that by the year 2020, Gen Z’ers will account for $29 to $143 billion in direct spending globally. They represent a new consumer target audience that brands are eagerly looking forward to winning over.

Generally speaking Gen Z’ers are the first true digital natives. They focus heavily on matters such as health & privacy and are more individualistic than the previous generation. These traits are a result of growing up in an environment shaped by economic instability and social change, not to mention rapid digital innovation. This has led to a decrease of trust in established institutions, including brands. In order to attract Gen Z, brands will have to communicate transparently and incorporate specific values into their way of working and being. Otherwise they cannot hope to develop a meaningful relationship with this new audience.

Always connected

As a generation that has never known a day without Internet, they are always sharing experiences and catching up on the world around them. Their being unafraid to express their opinions online only amplifies the real risk for brands if they don’t deliver what they promise. More than any other generation, Gen Z’ers will not refrain from criticizing your brand – or, conversely, from lavishing praise when you’re doing something right.

Not only should brands be real about who they are and what they can deliver, they should also be true to certain values. A recent survey by US marketing firm Ypulse has researched the preferred brands of these youngsters and analyzed which values they have in common. They concluded that American Gen Z’ers value brands that position themselves on matters of health and social impact. Nike’s recent Kaepernick campaign took an explicit stance on police brutality and racism that was roundly applauded by the younger generation and resulted in an astonishing 31% increase in online sales. The campaign fit nicely with Nike’s “believe in yourself” proposition, making it an authentic campaign.  On the other hand, taking a political stance can backfire if it doesn’t feel authentic. Remember Pepsi’s failed Kendall Jenner campaign? There’s no point in signaling social awareness if all you’re going to do is sell sugary soft drinks.

Planet, people & profit

Undeniably, this generation holds values in the highest regard. They appreciate values above all else. But why are they so value-driven? First, Gen Z’ers have seen what kind of impact equally value-driven millennials can make on the world around them. Secondly, since adolescents are still searching for their own identity, living a healthy lifestyle, fighting social injustice and helping the climate are all value-driven actions they can stand behind. Not only can they personally relate to those values, they see how people, society and brands are incorporating these values in daily life.

If your brand truly cares about values that define your position and relationship with your customers, then speaking out and incorporating socially conscious values is the number one strategy to follow in order to attract these new spenders. The days of putting profit before people and planet seem to have met their #Instafamous-end.

3 tips to attract Gen Z’ers

  1. Think about the identity of your brand, your heritage, your DNA, and go back to the brand’s core. Ask yourself questions like Who are we?” “What doe we want to achieve and why?” This will help you determine which values suit your brand and make it authentic.
  2. Map all the unique selling propositions of your brand. Seek out and communicate all the ways it can contribute to the lives of Gen Z’ers so you can start building a meaningful relationship with them.
  3. Communicate your brand message with relevant and accessible influencers or brand ambassadors. Make sure these influencers are trustworthy and match your brand identity.