By: Modesty Sanchez
The notion that trust must be earned isn’t specific to personal relationships—it’s also true of the relationships between consumers and brands. And with Gen Z quickly coming to possess extreme buying power, brands should definitely prove their worthiness of Gen-Z patronage. In order to do so, they have to express their undeniable alignment with Gen Z’s clearest values.
Gen Z loves to put their money where their mouth is, which is why they actively seek out brands that show a clear commitment to the social justice ideals they take very seriously. This is why Nike is so popular amongst younger audiences—though their products are high-quality, what truly draws Gen Z in are the advertisements featuring a diverse cast of athletes, models, and everyday people. For example, when Nike displayed a close-up of Colin Kaepernick’s face with the simple message of “[b]eliev[ing] in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” the sneaker company experienced a dramatic increase in online sales. The extreme surge occurred despite intense boycotts and outrage that also accompanied the ad—largely propagated by an older, more conservative demographic. Not only did Nike express a commitment to Gen Z’s values of social justice, but by disregarding the “traditional” marketing status quo at the expense of boomer consumers (I’ve been waiting four articles now to make that rhyme), the brand successfully gained Gen Z’s trust.
Another method involves a brand being eco-conscious and taking active steps not to hurt the planet. Gen Z takes the climate crisis very seriously, and they don’t want their monetary purchases to perpetuate environmental harm. One way for a brand to show their dedication to this cause is through their packaging and branding. As a personal example (and not a paid sponsorship, but, you know, I’m definitely open to that, hint hint), I’m in love with Tom’s of Maine products. I’m not sure how it happened, but I think one day I was shopping at Trader Joe’s, as one does, with the taste of Colgate’s minty flavor leaving a repulsive residue in my mouth—and then I saw Tom’s white cardboard encasing a tube of toothpaste that promised it was free from animal testing and any nasty artifical flavoring. It was love at first sight and I haven’t looked back since, every day brushing my teeth with the charmingly bland toothpaste.
What drew me in was definitely how the hippie-esque packaging conjured up images of people eating trail mix while hiking in Colorado and wearing those funky sandals—you know, the ones are probably good for your posture or something but you can’t seem to bring yourself to step out of your beloved (Nike!) running shoes for. When I saw Tom’s packaging I felt that I wanted to be that person, if only in the realm of oral care. Tom’s of Maine earned not only my trust, but plenty of other young adults’ trust simply by expressing their commitment to the earth’s well-being through their eco-friendly products and their eye-catching packaging.
So if you want your brand to be trusted by Gen Z, you need to show an irrefutable enthusiasm for upholding the social justice values Gen Z cares about. If you ensure your packaging, messaging, and, of course, your products match this goal for a better world, you can count on Gen Z’s dollar.