The importance of being genuine

Inflated brand promises cut no ice with our youngest consumer group. If you want to win the hearts of Generation Z, there’s only one way to do it – be genuine.


1995 was the year when the noise of a modem making a connection became part of the soundscape of Scandinavian homes. Companies like Amazon and eBay made it possible to start shopping on the internet, and Bill Gates was the richest man in the world. Some people even go so far as to say that was the year the future began. So it is perhaps not so surprising that it also signaled the start of a whole new generation.

People born between 1995 and 2009 belong to Generation Z, and they are the first to be used to computer screens and smartphones since almost before they could walk. They have witnessed truly astronomical technological development, at the same time as they have grown up facing threats of an increasingly tough labor market, climate change and an uneasy world.

Quickly change their minds

As a company, it is not all that simple to win their confidence. Members of Generation Z are extremely well informed and make high demands on what they consume and when. This applies equally to quality, customer care and ethical considerations. A negative reputation spreads quickly through user reviews and social networks. Even though they are still short on purchasing power, their views do influence other generations. And as influencers, they often lead opinions. 

“Our youngest generation is constantly exposed to an unending flow of information. This means that they’re nowhere near as loyal as previous generations. They can actually change their position in the blink of an eye if new information appears – both to the benefit and detriment of an organization,” explains Terhi-Anna Wilska, Professor of Sociology at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland.

This means that companies and organizations can no longer rest on their laurels; they have to earn their consumers’ trust over and over again. 

“You simply cannot fool young people who have lived their entire lives in a linked-up world. They are quick to spot if someone’s faking it, or if a given claim is nonsense. So it’s essential to be genuine.”

Winning the trust of Generation Z can be quite a challenge. They are more selective than previous generations when it comes to which brands they believe.

Appreciate captivating narratives

The members of Generation Z are used to high standards from their  childhood, at the same as being painfully aware of how high consumption is negatively affecting our planet. 

“A lot of them probably feel a lot guiltier than people from older generations.

As a result of their constantly being torn between different choices, they’ve become a consumer group that is both aware and extremely trend-sensitive. In contrast, one factor that doesn’t play a particularly important role is price,” comments Terhi-Anna Wilska.

“When the standard of living is high in society, a lot of people can afford to buy expensive products. So a high price is no longer a value in and of itself. The members of Generation Z are more appreciative of a cool, creative product, or if there is a captivating narrative linked to the brand.”

To win over perhaps the hardest-to-please generation as customers, you therefore have to communicate with both heart and intuition.