Gen Z: How to Harness Their Power as Brand Advocates

You’ve probably heard a lot about Gen Z – and not all of it good – so let’s dispel some myths and learn how to nurture them as brand advocates.

woman on mobile phone showing hearts

Who Are Gen Z?

If Gen Z are to be our brand advocates, then we’d better get to know them. They’re broadly defined as the 2 billion post-millennials who’ve never known a world without the internet. As such, their physical and digital lives are more tightly integrated than any other generation, with them spending upwards of 10 hours a day online.

Their birthdates fall anywhere between 1997 and 2012, making them around 9-24 years old today. Now, you might be wondering how on earth you gain brand advocacy from a 9-year-old, but if you’ve ever given an off-brand birthday present to a young niece or nephew only for them to discard it moments later, you know where we’re coming from. This is the genesis of brand advocacy, and these are your future customers.

Parents know this all too well too, so it’s no surprise that Gen Z significantly influence family spending decisions in practically every category. This includes clothing, electronics, dining out, food shopping, and furniture. This accounts for 11% of total household spending.

Okay, you say, but what about financially independent Zoomers? Well, adolescent and young adult Gen Z members currently occupy around 10% of the global workforce with around $460 billion in disposable income. In 2030, those figures are projected to rise to 30% and $3.2 trillion, respectively.

Gen Z are already the largest generation alive, so they can’t be ignored. They represent a new consumer ideology and are laying the groundwork for the way brands will have to conduct themselves now and for years to come.

What Are Gen Z’s Values?

If Zoomers are going to be your brand advocates, you have to advocate for them. Gen Z are the most racially and ethnically diverse generation to date, and the most well-educated. Politically, they pick up where millennials left off, which is to say that they’re largely progressive and more engaged with social issues and activism than previous generations.

The share of any given generation that claims global warming is a result of human activity has been steadily climbing with each subsequent era. This has so far peaked with millennials and Gen Z, at 56% and 54% respectively. Similarly, around 66% of Gen Z believe that minority races are treated unfairly, whereas only around half of Gen X and Baby Boomers do.

The trends are plain to see as well – this isn’t just statistics, it’s palpable. You need only visit a small sample of Gen Z Instagram pages to see the entire gamut of modern social, environmental, and civil rights issues shared in their stories.

You’re likely to find Gen Z concerned about and engaged with:

  • Sustainability in fashion, agriculture, fishing, food production
  • Civil rights issues, both domestic and international (e.g., Palestine, Black Lives Matter)
  • Environmental issues
  • Living wages, social security
  • Foreign policy, domestic policy
  • Mental health awareness and mindful living practices
  • Clean eating, whole foods, plant-based diets
  • Ethical philosophies and living practices like veganism

For any brand trying to get to the root of Gen Z’s values, it’s important to note that in many cases these issues overlap. For instance, concern over sustainability in fashion is a component of the larger issue around global warming and environmentalism. The way Zoomers engage with – or don’t engage with – these issues will dictate their attitude towards your brand.

Largely due to the opportunities afforded by the internet and their mastery of it, Gen Z wield substantial influence over your brand’s reputation in digital spaces. Maybe once upon a time it was true that there was no such thing as bad press, but between brand boycotts, social movements, and cancellations of problematic public figures or entertainment, in 2021 bad press simply is bad press.

Gen Z means your brand is no longer what you say about it, but what they say about it.

brand advocates

Find What Motivates Gen Z as Brand Advocates

While the media or other generations might depict Gen Z as uncompromising, reckless, and idealistic, you can’t doubt their passion. That same passion, while fearsome if you find yourself in its crosshair, can manifest as a deep and binding loyalty if you’re an ally.

Going the extra mile is a tried-and-true method of nudging a customer interaction from good to exceptional. It’s that exceptional care that sticks in customers’ minds. They’ll remember it when they’re talking about you to their friends, or when they’re sharing their lives online.

For example, have you ever found yourself struggling to sleep and mindlessly scrolling into the early hours of the morning? You can be sure a good portion of Gen Z have too. If a Gen Z customer wants an order update for their trainers at 3.30 am, being around to answer that query really does show that you’re there for them – and that you’re like them. At Gnatta, we know that feeling and we know our customers do too, which is why we actually offer 24/7 customer service as an option.

If that was a Gen Z customer, you can imagine the Instagram story now – “literally cannot believe Gen Z Clothing Store Co. are insomniacs like me” with a screenshot of the live chat. This is what brand advocates look like in 2021. It’s a result of demonstrating understanding of their generation and making them feel seen.

The effectiveness of this approach is mirrored in the data as well. 64% of Gen Z think brands should provide a personalised experience, and they’re 60% more likely than any other generation to hang up if they don’t get through to a business within 45 seconds. That being said, Gen Z are more likely to use live chat or social media anyway. Around 50% will attempt contact via another channel if they don’t receive a response within the hour, with around 10% waiting just five minutes.

With Zoomers being so au fait with multi-channel engagement, they expect a holistically integrated customer service from the brands they engage with. This represents a new customer demand, and it’s up to businesses to accommodate it.

If we’re honest with ourselves, can we refute that expectation? A customer journey should always be as smooth as possible. This is why it’s crucial, in 2021 more than ever, to unify your platforms with software like Gnatta.

brand advocate statistics

Understand Gen Z as Consumers

Gen Z prefer to shop in physical locations while augmenting the experience either beforehand, or concurrently, with the brands’ digital spaces as well. This phenomenon of digital footprint informing physical footfall has been affectionately named Click-and-mortar, and it’s important to bear in mind when trying to turn Gen Z consumers into your brand advocates. This theme of a blended physical and digital life is the defining characteristic of Gen Z – it permeates their interactions with the world.

YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat are Zoomers’ favourite platforms, though TikTok is a new contender challenging all of them. Research also shows that Zoomers prefer to discover brands through Instagram and Snapchat, while also being more prone to trusting influencers and brand ambassadors than hard, targeted advertising.

However, Gen Z are also responsive to loyalty programs, with around 75% already belonging to one or more, with another 64% claiming it would help persuade them to buy from a brand.

To truly shine on these platforms, it isn’t enough to reflect Zoomers’ interests or values – you have to be having fun in those spaces like they are. It has to be authentic, lest you fall prey to the Silence, Brand treatment.

Essentially, to Gen Z, a business cannot be in and of itself the point. Brands are valued much more highly if they’re ostensibly a vehicle or conduit for something greater, whether that’s exceptional customer service or philanthropic efforts. Gen Z won’t measure your success by your annual turnover, but by your impact on their world.

To wrap things up

As unpredictable as Gen Z seem, they share what all demographics and generations do – they want to see themselves in your brand.

They want to know that your business cares about the things they do, are excited by the things they are, that you share the same values, and that you want the same from the world.

Gen Z are a different flavour to millennials and Gen X, but something consistent between them is the importance of integrity, dignity, and authenticity. It’s all about adapting to their definition of it.

If you want to chat more about the expectations of Gen Z, or just want to see how Gnatta can help you improve your customer experience, get in touch with us!

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