Business values Gen Z care about
By Krisi Smith, Co-Founder & Chief Mixologist, Bird & Blend Tea Co
The importance of understanding the Gen Z psyche
As an experienced retailer, it’s really important that I have an insight into what drives Gen Z, what appeals to them as consumers. One of the best aspects of my job is product innovation and over the past few years, finding out what Gen Z consumers care about has become increasingly vital for the success of new product ranges. In addition, as an employer, we need to know what they’re looking for in a company in order to attract and retain them. Within the current economic landscape, empowerment amongst Gen Z candidates is likely here to stay so being able to attract from this younger talent pool is key.
How our company values align with what Gen Z care about
Our focus on Gen Z as consumers stems from a natural fit with them when it comes to our company values. For example, from day 1, sustainability has been high on our priority list and we’re proud to have always kept people & planet at the forefront of our decision making. Becoming B Corp certified is an exciting step in transparency and demonstrating our commitment to using our business as a force for good. Gen Z consumers gravitate towards brands that authentically and transparently share their eco and sustainability credentials. So we stand out to them as a brand they actively want to buy from. They care about the environment, being less wasteful and promoting a circular economy. By buying from us, by championing us, they are signalling to everyone what it is that they stand for.
“Whenever I find myself gravitating towards a business and its products I always find they have a few things in common, being sustainably sound is one, preferably B Corp, this way I know I’m purchasing from an inclusive company that cares about people and planet and I feel good about purchasing from them.” – Neve, Gen Z marketing assistant at Bird & Blend Tea Co.
Sustainability, authenticity and transparency carry more weight with Gen Z consumers than other factors such as price and company name or location, for example.
“75 percent of Gen Z consumers have said that sustainability is more important than brand name when making a purchasing decision” – Sustainabilitymag.com
They want sustainable retail with a large majority of them willing to spend 10% more on sustainable products. Gen Z cares that our packaging is 100% plastic free and either recyclable or compostable, that we are carbon neutral and that we plant a tree for every take away cup we sell. And I’m super proud to be a great example of a successful company operating in this space and challenge all we work with, supplier or team members to do the same.
Having a shared value connection with Gen Z employees strengthens our message
Our values are prominent and integral to decision making so it’s important that they shine through from everyone in the company no matter where they sit. Our workforce is age diverse with the majority of our Gen Z cohort in stores and customer facing as Tea Mixologists. They are the ones talking face to face with our fans and customers, bringing to life our magical world of tea and our products through demos, sampling our teas and sharing our company story. Having a shared value connection between employer and employee means that our message comes across confidently and genuinely. This rings true with all my staff but is an especially seamless connection with our Gen Z store staff.
What we can learn from Gen Z to make life better for people on both sides of the counter
I know that customers no longer shop in lanes and we need to show up for our fans and customers in the relevant places where they need us. We’ve seen a rise in social shopping through running TikTok lives with customers making purchases while watching us in real time, excited to hear their order being called out. There’s no denying it, Gen Z consumers opt for convenience and buy wherever and whenever it suits them best and with no specific channel preference. In addition, omnichannel shopping behaviour means they might seek out inspiration on their favourite social media apps, browse products online and then purchase later, prompted by a retargeting ad or an email for example. Gen Z literally don’t see traditional advertising anymore and are significantly more likely to make a purchase after seeing a promoted social media post or an influencer video sharing purpose-driven content.
Being a great place to work was part of our founding mission, we knew we wanted to be a place where young talent could flourish. As a young person in various jobs I was always searching for an understanding in my job, always asking too many questions and not feeling confident or empowered to grow and develop my skills. Career development is a massive requirement for Gen Z when looking at job roles, more than any other generation and they expect companies to invest in their training and professional development. They also want flexible working arrangements and autonomy. Companies bound by traditional office rules are no longer relevant to Gen Z candidates! In addition, the definition of being a good place to work is changing and Gen Z, at the forefront of ‘The Great Resignation’, are happy to jump around if they are not happy in their job. This approach to work is in direct contrast to the more traditional view that if you work hard, impress your boss, prove yourself that you’ll be rewarded, promoted etc. So if you’re still approaching recruitment from that point of view, Gen Z are having none of that! They expect work environments in which they can also pursue their own passions, so they can thrive as unique individuals who prioritise leading life with purpose.
Gen Z really cares about and prioritises mental health, wellbeing and mindfulness. Don’t forget that many experienced the pandemic and lockdown during their formative years – times of immense emotional development and physical changes. They long for a better world and pursue happiness through meaningful action and connection. I’m proud that our most prominent wellbeing initiative that supports our team came from one of our Gen Z employees.
“It’s important to me that businesses focus on their staff’s mental and emotional wellbeing. Destigmatising the conservation of mental health in workplaces has progressed in recent years, however, supporting those that need it isn’t always the focus for businesses. In uncertain and stressful times employees’ mental wellbeing is at risk. Having programmes, guides and teams in place to support those that need it can result in a better work ethic. improved retention and motivation.” – Taylia, Gen Z Tea Mixologist at Bird & Blend
Additionally, Gen Z are leading the way when it comes to embracing diversity and inclusion and putting the spotlight on accessibility. Not only are they the most ethnically and racially diverse generation ever, they are literally redefining standards, helping to create a more equitable workplace for themselves and future generations. There is so much to learn from them and it’s our responsibility as business leaders to provide the time, space and a conducive environment where they can share their ideas, contribute and develop initiatives.