Looking to win over Gen Z? Prioritise ESG

If driving meaningful change isn't a good enough reason to have a bold stance on ESG, how does appealing to your next generation of decision makers and talent sound?

There’s a good chance you’re already dedicating a lot of your time to Gen Z. Perhaps you’re appealing to their digital savviness, wondering which channel’s best to vie for their attention, or looking to turns heads with a #dayinthelife from their favourite influencer. 

But let’s not forget: Gen Z cares more about issues such as climate change and rallying around social causes than any other generation.

And while 90% say they’ve made changes to daily life to be more ethical and sustainable, Gen Z is looking to businesses to take the lead in helping drive a better future.

So, what does this mean for your brand?

Gen Z will be more likely to work with you if you’re driving a positive environmental and social impact

While two in five say they have rejected a job or assignment based on conflicts with their personal ethics and values, Gen Z is more likely to stay longer at a company if they have strong ESG commitments—and they’ll recommend it to others, too. 

Not that it’s an excuse to pay them any less, but one US study even found that 51% of Gen Z would be willing to take a pay cut to work for a business that was environmentally responsible.

All of which is pretty significant when you consider Gen Z will make up 30% of the global workforce by 2030.

You won’t make Gen Z’s shortlist without the right credentials

Alongside checking out a business’ commitments to DEI, 53% will consider sustainability credentials when it comes to making purchase decisions. 

Plus, since 45% say they’ve stopped spending on certain brands due to ethical and sustainability related concerns, it’s clear that Gen Z won’t hesitate to boycott brands if they don’t like what they see –  a slightly startling stat given that 69% feel they already input significantly into the final B2B decision making process.

The flipside? 54%  are willing to pay up to 10% more for sustainable brands and products vs just 23% of Boomers. 

So, how’s a savvy B2B marketer to get ahead and win over Gen Z?

  1. Actively communicate what you’re doing

“[Gen Z] are asking as many searching and challenging questions on ESG issues as on any other topic”  

— Kevin Hogarth, Chief People Officer, KPMG [Via Financial Times]

Gen Z needs to know what your brand stands for to see if it aligns with their own values. So you need to demonstrate that you aren’t afraid to speak out, address and commit to resolving thorny issues and complex problems.

If not, you might risk losing them at your very first LinkedIn post. 

  1. Practice what you preach

78% believe brands are all talk and no action

 — Insights Report 2022, Adolescent content

Gen Z have grown up in an era of fake news, influencer marketing, and greenwashing galore – so you might forgive them for being a generation of sceptics.

93% say that if a brand makes a public commitment, they should naturally have the right strategy and plans in place to ensure they can deliver on it. That means your brand must ensure you can walk the walk, before you even think about talking the talk – or you could attract attention for the wrong reasons. 

  1. Honesty comes first

75% conduct research online to see if a company is true to their word

 — Gen Z Purpose Study 2019, Porter Novelli/Cone 

Gen Z is savvy, and they’re prepared to do their homework. 

This means that being able to back up your claims is an absolute deal-breaker, as is steering clear of any sweeping statements or generalisations that can be misconstrued or misunderstood.

  1. Stay true to your brand

“If you’re not authentic, Gen Z will be the first to raise a red flag” 

— Ben Harms, Director of Insights and Strategy at Archrival [Via Vogue Business]

Gen Z isn’t looking for “picture perfect”, but they are expecting brands to be authentic. 

As we’ve said before, when communication around ESG comes from a brand like Patagonia, no one tends to bat an eyelid—it’s part of their entire raison d’etre. 

Yet when communication comes first, and purpose comes last, brands could be seen as opportunistic. So do ensure that any communication feels right for your brand and is on par with any commitments you’ve made to date. 

That can often mean just being straight with where you’ve gotten to so far. 

  1. Make Gen Z feel part of what you’re trying to achieve 

• • •

(Header Photo: Callum Shaw on Unsplash)

Visit our ESG Incubator to get the inspiration and advice you need to really make an impression on the next generation of B2B decision-makers

• • •

(Header Photo: Callum Shaw on Unsplash)

Are you ready?

Visit our ESG Incubator to get the inspiration and advice you need to really make an impression on the next generation of B2B decision-makers

• • •

(Header Photo: Callum Shaw on Unsplash)

“This needs to be a dialogue… enabling employees to see the impacts of their actions and reporting back of successes [as well as] listening to their views” 

— Adam Woodhall, Director of Carbon Smart [CIM via Raconteur]

For Gen Z, it’s important that any actions that brands take will enable them to learn and get involved with. They want to feel part of driving wider change.

Why not consider implementing a broader learning platform to get your employees on-board and bought into the cause, something like Deloittle did with their climate strategy launch, back in 2021? Or perhaps you could start by helping Gen Z to live more sustainably, like introducing a cycle to work scheme?

Whatever your brand does, you need to tackle ESG in all its glory to appeal to Gen Z.

Are you ready?

Visit our ESG Incubator to get the inspiration and advice you need to really make an impression on the next generation of B2B decision-makers

• • •

(Header Photo: Callum Shaw on Unsplash)