30. July 2021

Gaining trust from Gen Z

This quick examination on trust among 100 18-24-year-old consumers published in the UX research community might be of interest for companies, market researchers, marketing experts, recruiters and HR consultants who would like to gain the trust of the next Generation Z. Not only because of the insights but also how these insights were gained. Here in brief is what I learned from this blog article:

The renaissance of quality. When it comes to brand, products and services, the most important ingredient for Generation Z consumers – the so-called digital natives – is quality, paired with longevity and sustainability. Only then, Gen Z is willing to trust companies and their products, particularly when it comes to technology products. Maybe this focus on quality can be seen as a reaction to a decade where consumers were flooded by MVPs (minimum viable products) that too often (mis)used customers as guinea pigs to improve their tech products?

Integrity is king. When brands are seeking to be trusted by Generation Z, product quality however is not enough. Integrity of a company in the perception of the public plays a major role, i.e. their reputation with regards to sustainability and social issues. For Gen Z, brand trust is particularly important when it comes to buying lifestyle products, such as technology products, clothing, beauty and personal care products. When a brand is trusted by Generation Z, they are even willing to pay higher prices, despite their very small and restricted budgets.

Bad reputation due to unethical and unhealthy behaviours are the No. 1 trust-killers. Beside product quality, you will gain the trust of Generation Z only via honesty and social responsibility, perceived through the media. However, any manipulative marketing practices will kill their trust.

Forget about check-the-box surveys. The most interesting insight for me from this very quick examination was the way Generation Z likes to engage. They like very much to engage with companies, yet not in a way where they feel treated like a categorized object, e.g. through check-the-box surveys. Unafraid of privacy issues, they like to offer their answers through video and drawing visuals. They like to bring themselves fully in, including their why and intentions of their choices and love to look at things through their subjective lens of their life context. This means, classical market research methodologies need to be revisited to get their attention, trust and engagement.

Let us be inspired by Generation Z. In sum, I think Generation Z might challenge us to create more human engagement at eyelevel, taking time to listen and understand views within a life context in order to inspire trusting relationships in our business world. If we would take this call seriously for all stakeholder groups, I think this could lead to a beneficial paradigm shift towards a more open and rich data-gathering and mutual listening approach to any corporate communication activity, any market research, any engagement surveys or job interviews.

Dr. Eva Bilhuber
Dr. Eva Bilhuber
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