Understanding Millennial & Gen Z Consumers
Wednesday, May 25, 2022 from Floor Covering Weekly
Millennials and Gen Zers are tech-savvy too, accustomed to using the internet and social media to educate themselves on just about everything — a trait sellers and brands should pay close attention to. “This is a remarkable trend, and one that I see as very positive,” said Routman. “Education, knowledge and hard work by a diverse population of committed individuals will solve the environmental and social crises that have defined the past several years — not just for the Gen Zers, but for all of us.”
The key to overall success with this group of consumers, according to Routman, lies in how quickly and efficiently brands can, “establish themselves as credible, genuine leaders through change-making, relatable action for this new group of consumers will benefit.”
Take on Technology
Technology plays a crucial role in the shopping experience. “[It] enables [consumers] to easily research an ingredient in a beauty product, a food item and then make a split-second decision as to whether or not they want to make the purchase,” said Routman.
Online research is what, “helps them make choices about what they want to buy and where they want to invest,” explained Malisa Maynard, vice president of sustainability, Mohawk Flooring. “This need for information encourages companies to improve performance and develop innovative products for generations to come.”
Manufacturers can stay on top of their tech game by acknowledging the fact that Millennial and Gen Z consumers are scouring their websites, researching products online and double-checking brands’ social media. They’re looking for proof of eco-friendly products, company values and third-party certifications. They’re also asking increasingly sophisticated questions during the in-store shopping experience.
“The more we as manufacturers and retailers can do to understand their priorities and identify the products that best meet those needs, the more successful we can be in meeting this growing market demand,” said Candi Hampton, senior product sustainability manager at Shaw.
Stay Sustainably Savvy
Millennials and Gen Z are looking for products that are manufactured responsibly, climate friendly and safe, and reusable and recyclable, explained Maynard. “A sustainability-conscious consumer may even be willing to pay a premium for a product that they view is manufactured responsibly,” she said. “Even if a consumer is not willing to pay a premium, it is likely they will pick the product they perceive to be more sustainable if cost is comparable.”
According to Hampton, a growing body of research shows sustainable living is indeed influencing purchase decisions. For example, more than 40 percent of consumers want to be seen as someone who buys eco-friendly products; about half of online shoppers prioritize and consider sustainability when making purchase decisions; and more than 30 percent of Millennials will always choose a sustainable alternative when available.
Routman stressed that sustainability spans every aspect of the human experience. “What we drive. Where we prefer to live. What we wear. What we eat. The products that we place in our home. The personal care products that we use on our bodies,” she said.
Maynard agreeded, saying, “They may focus on environmental responsibility such as reducing emissions, energy consumption, water usage, recyclability or product transparency,” she said. “Or they may see sustainability as social responsibility in the supply chain or involvement in the community.”
Swing for Social Justice
The green movement is major, but social justice also plays a role. “These customers are much more likely to purchase from brands that have sincere social and environmental values,” shared Routman, who cited a study by research firm Morning Consult. The main takeaway: Gen Zers in particular expect brands to not just speak out on social issues, but use their sway to enact social change.
Routman concedes consumers are now asking questions about brands such as: Do they actively demonstrate a commitment to human rights and social justice through intentional action? “Consumerism, sometimes viewed as a negative term, has a strong upside. It can help shape a more equitable society,” said Routman.
Those brands that can best court these millennial and Gen Z influencers will enjoy loyal buyers. “But they must never sit still,” advised Routman, “because the expectations continue to evolve — it seems on a daily basis.”