The XYZ of Generation Z

The XYZ of Generation Z

Tara Gilad explains why corporate social responsibility is the bait to hook Gen Z

Generation Z, those born between 1996 to 2010, has a unique set of values compared to its preceding generations – one of which is their desire for ethical, well-meaning interactions with brands.

By 2020, they will account for 40 percent of all consumers, which should cause many brands to reevaluate the ways they are interacting with their customers, both today and in the future.

CEOs need to begin putting larger consideration into their brand’s impact on society when targeting Gen Z, and reflect on just how large of a role corporate social responsibility will play in relating to the next generation of consumers.

2018 marks the first year Gen Z has entered the work force, which means companies also need to be looking at their work culture in order to recruit the newest generation.

When you’re considering what the future holds for your brand and what impact Gen Z will have on it, here are a few key tips you should keep in mind when marketing to or hiring the next generation:

Marketing to Gen Z

Gen Z has an innate desire to do good, and they tend to make consumer choices based off of company values that align with their own.

This generation wants their purchasing power to make more of a difference and extend past the product or service itself.

According to a 2017 survey by Cone Communications, 94 percent of Gen Z believes companies should address social and environmental issues, as compared to only 86 percent of the general population.

This is where corporate social responsibility becomes a vital strategy to stand apart from its competition. It is the balance of profit-making with activities that benefit society, without harming any stakeholders.

Going forward, brands looking to gain popularity with Gen Z need to ensure a moral ethical code, and find a way to help shape society in a positive light that aligns with and enhances the brand’s identity.

Take a brand like Tom’s Shoes, for example, which donates a pair of its shoes to someone in need for every pair bought.

Gen Z strongly resonates with Tom’s because they can see the impact that their purchase has for the greater good beyond increasing the brand’s bottom line.

While not every company can follow the Tom’s model, companies that integrate their corporate social responsibility into who they are as a brand and into their company culture will have the most success at capturing Gen Z’s attention.

Connected generation

Gen Z was also the first generation to fully grow up with social media access, thus making them the most connected generation with the unlimited ability to crowdsource information instantly. Gen Z consumers are in the know more so than any past generation.

Because of this, they’ve developed an innate ability to spot a disingenuous post or partnership. Take your partnerships seriously – or risk Gen Z not taking you seriously.

Additionally, this social media savviness that means brand or companies blunders are caught by an even wider audience at a quicker speed, leading to larger losses when things go wrong.

The best way for companies to avoid damaging mistakes is to act with a high level of integrity and avoid any such scandals and, if things do go wrong or a mistake is made, Gen Z wants transparency.

Hiring Gen Z

Along with wanting their money to make a difference, Gen Z also wants their time and energy to do the same. When looking for where to work, Gen Z has a different mindset than past generations.

Unlike their predecessors, Gen Z jobseekers expect their potential employers to have progressive policies in place to address gender and racial equality.

Where the company stands on certain issues can be a major deciding factor for accepting a job, along with the company culture and social environment.

Nearly 75 percent of young professionals who recently entered the work force reported that they would accept a lower salary to work for a company with a strong corporate social responsibility program according to a Cone Communications survey.

Additionally, two-thirds of young professionals said they would turn down a job offer from a company that doesn’t have a commitment to corporate social responsibility. This indicates that companies need to start considering their practices and societal impact if they want to continue to source highly talented workers as Gen Z takes over the work force.

Many innovative companies – such as Google, Microsoft, Cisco and Disney – have been increasing their corporate social responsibility programs over the past decade.

To keep up with trending times, Microsoft has won awards for its corporate social responsibility mission to enhance their companywide private policy principals in order to protect its customers, business partners and employees’ data.

Disney offers ethics, integrity and diversity programs and educational opportunities for all of their employees. Many of these companies offer their employees paid hours of volunteer time or partner with nonprofits for company outings.

Not only do corporate social responsibility initiatives like volunteering help recruit young workers, but they actually provide many benefits for current employees.

According to a study, more than 80 percent of young professionals report feeling more loyalty to companies that provide them with volunteer opportunities and derive more satisfaction from their work when provided opportunities to work on social and environmental issues.

Social responsibility

Moving forward, business leaders need to look at how they can positively impact society and engage their employees in doing so. Companies now not only have to prove their virtue to consumers but also to their employees.

Gen Z is hungry for the opportunity to positively impact the world through the ways they invest both their money and time, so improving corporate social responsibility programs are key to staying in the good graces of Gen Z for brands.

Four ways to include corporate social responsibility into your business  

1. Identify ways your company can become more environmentally friendly. Whether it is installing a company wide recycling program, or switching to a more eco-friendly vendor, small changes can result in huge impact. 

2. Get involved in your local communities needs. If your company is headquartered in an urban area with few opportunities for local youth, consider creating student programs or internships to help give teens a place to go after school while preparing them for a brighter future.

3. Offer your employees a company volunteer program. Many businesses offer employees incentives for giving back to the communities through paid volunteer hours or quarterly volunteer trips.

4. Offer pro-bono services for groups that align with your companies missions and values. Find a group that helps work for a cause that speaks to your brand  and help offer your services to help them with their mission. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tara Gilad is Co-founder and COO of Vitality Bowls. A serial entrepreneur with a background in business ownership, retail and finance, she and her husband, Roy Gilad, launched Vitality Bowls after learning of their daughter’s severe food allergies. With nowhere to turn, they took matters into their own hands and opened the superfood restaurant/café with 30+ menu items that are free of preservatives, artificial ingredients, added sugars and chemicals. Tara has her hands in all aspects of the business but specializes in franchisee relations. After franchising the brand in 2014, they now have more than 50 units open or in development.

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