Study: What drives Gen Z loyalty and purchasing decisions?

New research from Snapchat reveals how younger customers relate to brands—and how marketers can respond.

Gen Z marketing study

The kids are all right, but winning their loyalty takes a deft marketing touch.

New research from SnapChat reveals key insights into how Generation Z members (those born in the late 1990s and early 2000s) prefer to interact with companies online. The data also unveils crucial and tactics tips to reach this emerging cohort.

Over a quarter of Gen Z members said they first heard about a new brand from a friend or family member’s recommendation. Just 9% said they learned about a brand through a “sponsored influencer” post. That could be a sign of increasing distrust of influencers and growing fatigue with their sponsored posts. (Some PR and marketing pros have warned that the influencer marketing bubble will soon burst.)

How Gen Z members learn about new products varies by category, according to the Snapchat research. Friend and family recommendations are especially important for retail, entertainment, fashion, and technology brands.

Seeing the item in a store is the best way for Gen Z to learn about food products. For consumer goods and beauty products, one in four agree that an online ad is the preferred way to discover new brands.

To learn more about a new product, 35% visit the company’s website. Fewer cited other means, such as talking to friends and family or reading reviews. Just 15% said they look at the company’s social media accounts.

Key takeaway: Company websites must be mobile-friendly.

In 2018, roughly three-fifths (58%) of all internet website visits were from mobile devices, according to research from SimilarWeb. That number is estimated to rise drastically in coming years. Companies that optimize website content for mobile users will have a tremendous advantage over those that do not pony up for a streamlined site.

Again, favorite information sources vary depending on product types. User reviews are Gen Z’s go-to resources for more information on new beauty brands, and family and friends are most reliable for learning more about new food brands.

Nearly three in four (73%) said they would be interested in a new brand if their friends were talking about it. Additionally, nearly two-thirds (65%) said they would be interested if the brand created a unique experience for them and their friends to attend. They are looking for brands to entertain (42%), educate (40%), advise (39%) and provide an experience (37%) for them.

Key takeaway: Gen Z members can become valuable brand advocates.

Gen Z is more likely to share positive, rather than negative, brand experiences. Close to half (46%) said they’ve shared a positive experience at a store, and 40% indicated they recently shared a good customer service experience with their friends or family. That contradicts the common view of young customers complaining or “calling out” companies on social media.

Gen Z members can become valuable brand advocates, but they expect businesses to be accountable.

More than half of respondents said they would stop using a brand if they feel the company engages in unethical business practices, and 37% cited negative environmental impact as another reason to stop purchasing a product. Companies that create an ethical culture of philanthropy can attract younger customers, but CSR efforts must be genuine.

“Provide consistent value, be real, stay mobile-friendly, and don’t fall into the pushy sales trap—that’s how you win over today’s young generation of consumers, with or without social media,” urges content marketer Julia McCoy, CEO of Express Writers.

A version of this post first appeared on the blog.

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