Gen Z consumers seek authentic brands they can trust

Authenticity is the new currency for conversion, spend and loyalty, especially when it comes to Gen Z, writes Gemma Vasey.

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Voice of the CustomerInsights

Published: August 11, 2023

Gemma Vasey

Gemma Vasey

Gen Z consumers prefer brands that are authentic, which gives those working in CX plenty to think about. One survey found that 82% of Gen Z consumers questioned would trust a company more if it uses images of real customers in its advertising, while 72% said they’re more likely to buy from a company that contributes to social causes. Product quality, positive ratings, reviews and customer service are the top characteristics that establish trust in a brand among Gen Z-ers, the survey found.

Recent research from Asendia echoes these sentiments. While 75% of British shoppers plan to cut back on spending in 2023, despite UK inflation remaining close to a 40-year high, 43% said a brand’s authenticity would make them less sensitive to inflationary price increases. Of note is the fact that this sentiment rises to 48% of Gen Z and 51% of Millennials.

Clearly, younger consumers love brands they deem to be credible, authentic, and trustworthy. This suggests these brands will be in a strong position to weather ongoing economic storms.

But how can authenticity be championed by online sellers and customer experience professionals?

Trust matters at every stage of the buyer journey

The research confirmed that authenticity in e-commerce shines through in many ways. Things like diversity and body positivity in website imagery; clarity, and honesty about how beauty products are tested and made; and even reliability of delivery, can work towards impressing Gen Z shoppers and winning their long-term loyalty through being authentic.

The research confirmed that authenticity in e-commerce shines through in many ways.

One example is Bali Body, an Australian active skincare brand, using social channels including YouTube and TikTok to share product reviews and self-tanning tips. It is also clear about how products get shipped internationally from Australia so that delivery expectations are not unrealistic in the eyes of customers.

Gen Z consumers are quick to buy online, but they are also attuned to the reality of climate change and they want to align with green brands that offer sustainable delivery options. If you are shipping your health and beauty products to overseas customers, it’s worth considering working with a logistics company that can offer sustainable delivery solutions.

Social media builds an authentic customer experience

In the age of digital connectivity, social influencers can be retail’s strongest sales stimulators, particularly for health and beauty brands targeting younger consumers. Generation Z looks to influencers for inspiration, so if you are a marketplace seller specialising in hair, make-up, and skincare ranges, Lydia Fowler,  Bex Weston and Dr Kemi Fabusiwa (Dr Fab) are likely to be on your customers’ radar.

In the age of digital connectivity, social influencers can be retail’s strongest sales stimulators.

It is amazing what can be achieved with influencer and peer-to-peer recommendations on social channels. A great example is the sales bonanza enjoyed by long-established skincare brand CeraVe when TikTok users discovered and shared its products during the summer of 2020. The #CeraVe tag has swelled to 800 million views, and its popularity on the app led to Superdrug reporting a 65% week-on-week increase in sales of CeraVe products in June 2020, as reported by i-D.

Recognising this social advocacy trend, beauty retailers and online merchants have been quick to get in on the act. For example, Sephora is helping niche, founder-led beauty brands connect with popular TikTok creators, and tap into new audiences online.

Social commerce opportunities ahead

Accenture predicts social commerce will grow three times as fast as traditional e-commerce, more than doubling from $492 billion worldwide in 2021 to $1.2 trillion in 2025. Assuming Europe is following a similar trajectory, this means that selling on social media is a must, especially for e-commerce brands. Plus, with Gen Z gaining buying power and 26% of them using social media to make purchases, this target demographic represents a significant opportunity for retailers to gain market share and boost online sales.

It’s important that vendors of all product categories remain focused on their brand values.

To realise these opportunities in the most risk-averse way, it’s important that vendors of all product categories remain focused on their brand values and the quality of the content they share. Young shoppers are acting with caution due to the rising cost-of-living, but invariably they are also consuming consciously and mindfully.

Increasingly, retailers and brands are being held to account – with authenticity having a significant impact on share of wallet, revenue, and loyalty. Like never before, whatever you’re selling and however you’re delivering, honesty will be your best policy.

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