Gen Z and the Brand Loyalty Challenge
It’s hard for many to accept the fact that Generation Z has become, and continues to be, such an important force in the global economy, both as consumers and members of the workforce. That difficulty isn’t necessarily due to any particular resistance to change or animosity toward younger generations. Rather it’s simply eye-opening for older generations, including millennials, to comprehend that this group, born roughly between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, now makes up 40 percent of global consumers and over one-third of the American labor force. And those are the numbers with much of the cohort yet to reach adulthood!
Understanding What Makes Gen Z Tick
As more and more of Generation Z reaches adulthood and those already there gain greater seniority in the workforce and increased spending power, it will be increasingly critical for marketers to understand what makes them tick. Indeed, a great deal of money and effort has been dedicated to this endeavor; however, some of the results of this research should be troubling for companies looking to reach this generation.
In an article for Forbes, Nishat Mehta covers a February 2021 study his firm, IRI, conducted based on focus groups, interviews and purchase data representing input from about 1000 members of Gen Z. They found some interesting commonalities among this cohort. “They’re digitally native, intolerant of inauthenticity and fluid in their self-identity. We also identified a dazzling diversity in the group and found that for most Gen Z shoppers, change and experimentation were constants. In fact, more than half of Gen Zers said they love to try different brands compared to only 35% who say they’re brand loyal.”
That potential for lack of brand loyalty is obviously concerning. But there may still be hope for those wishing to connect with and engage this group.
Connecting With Gen Z
A lack of brand loyalty is obviously a challenge for marketers, but it’s important to note that there is still hope for marketers looking to build a relationship between their brand and young consumers. The key is developing a genuine understanding of the group. “To win with this new generation of shoppers, marketers should rethink traditional approaches, understand Gen Z deeply and earn their dollars with innovative strategies that appeal to their unique motivators,” says Mehta.
But understanding a group deeply is not as easy as writing that goal on a whiteboard in a brainstorming session. A deep understanding of any group cannot genuinely be achieved without significant and meaningful input from that group.
What does that mean from a business standpoint? Inclusion.
A Mandate for Inclusion
Specifically, companies that want to develop a deep understanding of Gen Z and build brand loyalty with them need to recruit members of that cohort and listen to what they have to say.
Just as with any group – whether defined by race, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic background – truly understanding Gen Z requires a commitment to diversity and inclusion with respect to that group. Companies that embrace this approach are going to be well-positioned to tap into the largest cohort since the Baby Boomers. Those that try to substitute surveys and focus groups for meaningful diversity and inclusion are likely to be left out in the cold.
How well do you understand your Gen Z employees? Your Gen Z customers? They’re a force to be reckoned with.
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