Springboard Symposium - Notes/Sources
How to connect with and sell to Generation Z

Presented by Molly Beane, founder/CEO, From Molly With Love

Hi friends! Glad you're here. If you want a full copy of the slides, you can download them here. But below is a summary of the key points I made in the presentation, along with statistics & sources. 


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Generation Z Consumes Differently

1. Consumption as a means of self-expression

- The core of Gen Z is the idea of manifesting individual identity. Consumption, therefore, becomes a means of self-expression—as opposed, for example, to buying or wearing brands to fit in with the norms of groups. (McKinsey & Co.)

- Individual identity w/o labels are very important to them. (McKinsey & Co.)

2. Ethics & taking a stand

- 70% say they try to purchase products from companies they consider ethical.

- 65% try to learn the origins of anything they buy—where it is made, what it is made from, and how it is made.

- About 80 percent refuse to buy goods from companies involved in scandals. (McKinsey & Co.)

- 79% will trust a company more if the images its brand uses are not photoshopped. (Ad Age)

- They expect brands to “take a stand.” The point is not to have a politically correct position on a broad range of topics. It is to choose the specific topics (or causes) that make sense for a brand and its consumers and to have something clear to say about those particular issues. (McKinsey & Co.)

- 67 percent of those surveyed agreeing that ‘being true to their values and beliefs makes a person cool.’” One of the biggest challenges in engaging with Gen Z will be determining how to appear “cool” and change the world while still remaining profitable. (CNBC)

3. Authenticity

- They can see right through empty platitudes and have no time for it. Gen Z is also more likely to trust that large companies are operating in society's best interests only when the companies show it by their actions and their employees' actions. (Marketing Dive)

- If a company comes out in support of a cause that seems unrelated to their own mission and brand it can have the opposite effect — it comes across as a media play for public brownie points, ultimately damaging the brand reputation among a Gen Z audience. To show Gen Z your brand or identity is authentic, you first need to carefully define what that brand is. Only then can you align a cause with your brand’s mission, and be consistent in your support of both. (Cone Comm)

- If a brand advertises diversity but lacks diversity within its own ranks, for example, that contradiction will be noticed. In fact, members of the other generations we surveyed share this mindset. (McKinsey & Co.)

- The Gen Z preoccupation with authenticity — which has driven them away from traditional celebrities in favor of more intimate social media and YouTube influencers — makes them scrutinize the motives of large brands, presenting a challenge for today’s marketing and communications professionals. (CNBC)


They Do Not Want to Be Sold To


1. Influencers/user-generated content

They’re YouTube stars, they’re their own filmmakers, and in many ways, they’re their own personal creative team. Making room for Gen Z and offering them ways to be part of your brand is a great way to tap into their creative spirit—an inroad some major brands are already pursuing. (Ad Age)

2. They respond best to being human

- Here comes the authenticity thing again. They blur the lines between humans and media, humans and brands. So they want to see the humans behind the brands (again, to feel a part of the brand). 

- This also means stepping up a business’ customer service game, too.

3. Be honest when you screw up

- They expect brands to be honest when they screw up - and respond favorably to this. In fact, McKinsey & Co. have called them the “true generation”

- This is important because it’s harder than ever to earn their trust (Business Insider).


Politics & Diversity Merge w/Business

1. Diversity: Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation we have seen

- Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation we have seen (Pew Research), so diversity & inclusion are incredibly important.

- This includes the body positivity movement and being “anti-beauty shaming.”

- It includes trans/non-binary folks: Roughly a third of Gen Zers know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns (Pew Research)

2. They are more liberal than any other generation

- Gen Z teens and young adults have overwhelmingly adopted left-leaning beliefs similar to those of the millennials before them. (Washington Post) Many of them identify as socialists. They are also more likely to care about climate change. 

Example of brands doing this well: 

- From Molly With Love 

- TomboyX

- Fenty Beauty 

- Glossier

- And more...

Final thought: The D2C landscape will change drastically over the next 10 years because of Gen Z. We can either pay attention to it and evolve - or.... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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