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In this episode of our Gen Z series, Kellie Hill and Ruth Burns sit down to discuss Gen Z as consumers, and how the different ways they experience and engage with the world mean businesses need to proactively think about strategies and methods to meet them where they are.

They look at key customer experience topics through a Gen Z lens, including product pricing models, flexibility, authenticity and how climate consciousness fits in to Gen Z’s consumer habits. They also explore Gen Z’s views on personalisation, sub-cultures and how businesses can partner with relatable peer influencers to better connect with them as an audience.

Listen to the episode below or read the full transcript, and don’t forget to get the Gen Z framework.

My name is Kellie Hill. And I’m Ruth Burns. And we’re from Gate One.

Now, Ruth, it’s fantastic to speak to you today, and I know that you
have been working with a group of students on how businesses can best adapt their products and services to a Gen Z audience. Can you tell me a bit more about how this opportunity came into fruition?

Thanks, Kelly. We recognised at Gate One that Gen Z were a consumer base that are spoken about widely, but in a very abstract way. So to best support our clients to take action and adapt to the needs of Gen Z, we decided to engage the generation directly, working with Gen Z to understand Gen Z. We leveraged the strong links between Havas Village Dublin and UCD Smurfit Graduate Business School and worked with a brilliant group of Gen Z students. Together, we created a framework, A to Gen Z: Improving your connection with the world’s largest generation.

Okay. Now, before we continue, I want to get my thinking right. Gen Z range from those born between 1997 and 2002, is that right?

Yes, exactly. And the students are more towards the older end of the generation.

Right. So there are lots of traits attributed to Gen Z that are spoken about.
They are the first generation to be born into an online world and they
live between online and in-person reality quite seamlessly. But don’t most generations live like that these days anyway? Are they really that different?

Honestly, I think they are. I was fascinated by how the research and the formative events that shaped this generation really validated that they definitely do have unique traits to be catered for. Let’s talk about price sensitivity, for example.

Okay. And with that in mind, then, this generation isn’t exactly flush with cash. Given their age, the majority of them are not in the workforce yet, they’ve also been exposed to economic slumps and a cost of living crisis.

Agreed. They are more sensitive to price than any other generation. So companies have adjusted by providing discounts, free trial periods, personalised rewards. Time boxing offers is really successful with this generation.

And I can imagine that those kinds of offers complement how they consume media. For example, short, dynamic content across different social media sites that expires quite quickly generates that fear of missing out mentality.

Exactly. Short term limited offers are best promoted on short, dynamic social media reels and stories that expire. Kaya, one of the students I worked with on this, she made that connection between Gen Z being really sensitive to fear of missing out. And that’s why I think those creative pricing models, such as personalised time box offers are so successful. Because, Gen Z, yes, they have limited incomes, but they also feed off that FOMO.

So you think because they grew up with short form content that really hooks you in, the pricing models that complement these habits will still be successful, even as their income grows? And this is something that companies can really take advantage of, I imagine. But I just want to know about their social media consumption in more detail. How does that differ from other generations like mine? I’m a millennial and I ask that because I know I’ve supported clients previously with this customer base and authenticity was a key recurring theme that we needed to take into consideration.

Yeah. You’re so right, Kelly. This generation craves authenticity. While other generations associate social media with filtered fakeness, gen Z see through that. They reject Photoshop personas, they really seek out relatable influencers and content. They prefer authentic, unfiltered, multidirectional content and engagement.

Yeah, this does seem to contrast with that. Like you mentioned, curated, filtered content, those one way feeds that millennials are mostly on.
And it makes sense that platforms like Be Real are performing so well because they’re really trading on that platform of authenticity.

Be Real is a really good example. Creating communities is the best way to engage Gen Z on social media. One of the students involved, Marc-Audoin, brought that to life.

He said: I feel that the most interesting insight is how attached Gen Z is to communities. Businesses have to understand these communities and not try to interact with consumers directly, but first to adapt their speeches and the way they want to interact.

Yeah, that really explains the rise of the micro influencer. They provide relatable peer-to-peer interaction, which helps to create a community of brands and again it comes across as more authentic.

The most interesting part of this A to Gen Z work for me is that Gen Z value access to a product over owning it. Valentin from the Gen Z group brought
this to life.

He said: We first zoomed into product to really understand what Gen Z values in a product and what we found out is they don’t really care about owning the product anymore, but instead they really only want the access to the service. So companies should really think about servitisation and think about where the value actually lies in the product.

Yeah, and I would imagine this generation values flexibility in their lifestyle and it’s probably the most climate conscious generation. How does that play a part in all of this?

It definitely does. Research shows that not only do they not need to own the products, they also put little value on being the first user of a product. Gen Z, they’re the most apt to buying and selling second-hand clothes than
any other generation.

They are more ESG conscious. There’s huge concerns around climate change for this generation. So if I were to think about how this might impact companies, they need to start thinking about subscription based models, pay later options and overall moving away from pay per use.

Yes. And Kelly, this goes far beyond the industries already doing subscriptions, you know like online streaming with Netflix and Spotify. It extends to renting of clothes, sports gear, mattresses even. So, organisations need to be more innovative in thinking about where the value of the product and the services really lies.

That makes me think about personalisation and the power of personalised experiences. Personalisation comes up in this study. How does it play a role in the Gen Z digital and physical world? And how can that be leveraged by brands?

Yeah, it’s incredibly important to Gen Z. So nearly 60% of Gen Z say they actually enjoy seeing and being offered personally relatable content on social media. I think where it differs is that while other generations have adapted to personalization over the last decade, I remember a time when it made some consumers uncomfortable or even sceptical and that’s not the case for these digitally native consumers. Personalisation is welcomed in their eyes and builds trust.

And Ruth, I could speak to you about this all day and geek out, but I know we need to stop there. And it’s been great to talk to you about some of the a to Gen Z insights that have come out of this. And I’m really looking forward to sharing how our customer experience community, where I play a role within Gate One, will be bringing this hot topic to life for our clients.

Looking to better connect with Gen Z? Get the framework now.

Our A to Gen Z framework provides businesses with specific and actionable steps to effectively engage with this influential generation.

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