As the first generation of digital natives, members of Gen Z have access to more information than many people before them. They’re accustomed to getting knowledge right at their fingertips, so this young generation isn’t easily fooled. Gen Z is a group that can easily spot inauthenticity — and when they feel like a brand isn’t being transparent, they won’t hesitate to call them out online.
When marketing to this consumer base, companies must prioritize transparency and sincerity to connect with Generation Z’s values. Let’s discuss how Gen Z approaches purchases differently and how you can approach marketing to align with the mindset of this growing segment of buyers.
Gen Zers Are Smart Shoppers
Members of Gen Z aren’t passive shoppers by any means. On the contrary, they’re making well-informed decisions by using the internet to find information about products, services, and brands before they buy. Members of Generation Z spend an average of 18 minutes reading reviews ahead of every purchase decision.
While previous generations were more easily targeted by ad campaigns that inflate the value of products — like fast food commercials that showcase perfectly glossy, juicy burgers — Gen Z is highly aware that consumers have the upper hand. With more options available to consumers than ever, thanks to the internet, the world’s youngest consumers are proactively seeking product reviews, demos, and more to find the best deal.
Instead of taking any company’s words at face value, Generation Z is seeking social proof from more trustworthy, unbiased sources. Increasingly, companies must align their claims and promotions with customers’ experiences to gain Gen Z’s trust. Without full transparency and honesty, Gen Z will continue to view your brand with skepticism and distaste.
A Generation That Buys With Values in Mind
Generation Z is filled with values-driven consumers. If your brand purpose aligns with their values and beliefs, there’s a good chance that Gen Z will prioritize your product — as long as you’re practicing what you preach. Brands most appealing to young consumers have a consistent purpose behind their brand and actively work to fulfill it.
Once again, if your claims don’t match reality — for instance, if you state that you value diversity, but your leadership team is only filled with white males — Gen Z won’t be driven to shop with your brand. The most authentic brands use transparency to show how they stay true to their values.
For example, if one of your brand values is environmentalism — a value that many members of Gen Z hold — you can make your marketing more appealing by being transparent about your company’s production and distribution processes. In addition, making your supply chain easily traceable for consumers can help you showcase how you choose sustainable suppliers and shipping methods.
Don’t be afraid to admit your faults. If you find that your company is producing waste due to excess inventory, be transparent about it. You can still appeal to consumers by promoting the steps you’re taking to realign with your values — for instance, by planning to recycle or repurpose overstock goods instead of adding them to landfills.
Lack of Transparency Can Lead to Bad Reputation
Misleading marketing doesn’t just deter Gen Z buyers. A lack of transparency can also greatly damage your reputation. When Gen Z experiences a misleading or dishonest brand, many will take to social media — including Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms with millions of users — to share their frustrations with their followers.
It’s not uncommon for posts about poor company practices to go viral. For example, as Gen Z consumers increasingly see wellness products like hair gummies and weight loss teas marketed on social media, those that make grandiose claims or generalizations are getting a lot of backlashes. Many members of Gen Z are well aware that supplements and vitamins are a $34 billion business that doesn’t always offer quality products, and their skepticism often leads to research. The most transparent wellness brands that only share evidence-backed product benefits can better gain loyalty from Gen Z consumers.
Transparent Pricing Matters Too
Transparent pricing can be a huge draw for Gen Z consumers, too. Drawn to honest business practices, young consumers are moving away from brands with hidden fees (as well as sales promotions with hidden terms) in favor of brands that include upfront costs in their marketing.
Everlane is a popular brand among Gen Z shoppers, taking price transparency one step further. By breaking down their full production costs and displaying their markups, Everlane gives Gen Z a reason to trust its brand and remain loyal customers.
Transparency Is Key in the Future of Marketing
If you want to extend the longevity of your brand, your company can no longer use the shady marketing practices of the past. Total transparency is key to gaining trust and loyalty from Gen Z — a generation that may become the future’s most powerful, influential consumer group. Start aligning your marketing with your customer experience, offering transparency about your supply chain and pricing, and owning up to your faults to begin your journey toward a more authentic brand.