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  • Writer's pictureDeJuan Wright

6 Ways Your Startup Could Build Trust Amongst Gen Z Consumers

Updated: Feb 8

From the moment that a startup is first introduced to its target audience—it faces an uphill battle. Let’s face it, most consumers are skeptics by nature. Instead of looking for reasons to support a new business they’ve discovered—today’s conscious consumers are more inclined to do their due diligence and look for reasons not to (e.g., Yelp reviews).

If your startup's target audience consists of Gen Zers—at times, that uphill battle has to feel sort of like trying to ascend to the summit of Mount Everest without any equipment—an improbable feat.

More so than previous generations—Gen Zers are far more hesitant to give their cash to a new business. With studies showing that a whopping 85% of the demographic say they’re more likely to buy from brands they’re already familiar with—than from a new or non-mainstream brand.

One of the biggest barriers that startups face when it comes to receiving the support of Gen Z—is trust. That’s because social capital is everything to Gen Z. Which is why before they’ll support your startup—they first must be sure that it aligns with their ideals both socially and politically. In other words, they really must trust your business before they’ll support it.

These are 6 ways your startup could remove Gen Zers' trust barriers and get closer to winning their business.

1. Be culturally influential

If I were to tell you that cultural influencers don’t play a huge role in getting Gen Zers to trust your brand—that would be like me telling you that I could bench press a heavier weight than The Rock does—which would be a false statement (although, it would be cool if I actually could).

Bringing in cultural influencers to help market your brand is a great way to lower the trust barrier between your startup—and Gen Z consumers. In fact, according to a survey, nearly half of Gen Zers have made a purchase based on a recommendation from an influencer.

The key is choosing the type of influencer that’ll resonate most with your Gen Z audience (which isn’t a monolith). To help you with that selection process—these are the 4 types of influencers that every brand will eventually need.

2. Be socially-involved

It’s not often that a company is celebrated by consumers for bragging about one of its accomplishments. However, Gen Z consumers love it when brands do a lot of bragging…about the things they’ve actually done to make the world a better place, that is.

According to a yearly global survey, 72% of Gen Z respondents say that they are more likely to buy from a company if they know the company contributes towards social causes.

Build trust with Gen Zers by showing them your startup truly cares about making the world a better place. To do that, get behind a social cause that is congruent with your target audience. Then, articulate why you're behind it. Lastly, explain just how your company has made strides to right—either a societal or an environmental wrong (and if it comes off as bragging, don’t worry—they won’t mind one bit).

3. Be your authentic self

Author, film producer, and serial entrepreneur Peter Guber, once said, “Truth is a point of view, but authenticity can’t be faked.” Those facts are especially applicable when it comes to startups.

Unlike established companies that Gen Zers have come to know and trust—startups are an empty slate. Which means they’re far more scrutinized by Gen Z once it is discover that a startup isn’t authentic.

Avoid that pitfall with your startup by being transparent and forthcoming with any and all imperfections your startup may have that would be relevant to your customers.

4. Be diverse and inclusive

Voted as one of the most popular brands with Gen Z women, French multinational retailer Sephora, is a brand that has continuously made moves that have been heralded amongst Gen Z consumers.

One particular decision that has been a hit with the demographic—has been Sephora’s pledge to dedicate 15% of their store’s shelf space to Black-owned beauty brands.

“We welcome everyone. It’s important that we actually live that.” Says the company’s president and CEO, Martin Brok, in an interview with WWD. If inclusion and diversity isn’t already an emphasis at your startup—it definitely needs to be. Especially if one of its goals is to gain the trust of Gen Z consumers.

5. Stay consistent

Before we get to the final way that your startup could build trust amongst Gen Z consumers—I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the one thing that Gen Z consumers most have in common with generations that preceded them. And that one thing is the demand for consistency from the companies they choose to do business with.

As previously stated, social capital is everything to Gen Z. Therefore, before they’ll put their reputation on the line in front of their peers by supporting your startup—they’ll first need to know that your business isn’t inconsistent with what had drawn them to it in the first place.

6. Be everywhere they are…which is on social media

In the chorus of one of my favorite songs, Everywhere, by singer Michelle Branch, she says, “You’re everywhere to me, and when I close my eyes it’s you I see.” That line not only pertains to someone having a crush on a person—it could also apply to someone having a fondness for your brand. That’s if your brand is everywhere they are.

Psychologists have a term for this, “The Mere Exposure Effect.”

Researchers found that the more often a person is exposed to someone or something—the more they tend to develop a liking for it—simply because they’ve grown familiar with it.

So, use The Mere Exposure Effect to your startup’s favor by being ever-present everywhere Gen Zers are these days—which is on social media, of course. The way to do that is by making sure your startup has active accounts on all of the most popular social media platforms—especially on Gen Zers’ 3 favorite social media platforms.

As Gen Z consumers become more familiar with your startup—the more they’ll begin to like it—which often leads to trust.


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