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How Are Organizations Adapting Their Strategies to Match Gen Z’s Emphasis on Social Responsibility?

In a world where Gen Z’s preference for socially responsible brands is reshaping the marketplace, we’ve gathered insights from a diverse group of agency leaders, including CEOs and marketing directors. They share their unique strategies, from planting trees with each new customer onboarding to enhancing public speaking on social responsibility, in these 17 innovative responses tailored to meet the demands of a conscientious consumer base.

Plant Trees with New Customer Onboarding

Corporate social responsibility is so important in today’s culture, and if you have a business, you should be doing what you can to become more sustainable. We wanted to find a way to give back and promote sustainability through our business. That’s why every time a new customer joins the family, we plant one tree in Canada to give back.

We have been able to plant trees across Canada, and it has been a great initiative that we can continue to do for years to come. Showing that you care doesn’t have to be complex; simply giving back in whatever way you can is a great first step. Sustainable business practices are not just beneficial for your business’s longevity but they help the environment, create awareness for a cause, and customers appreciate the effort.

Bradley Thompson, Marketing Director, DigiHype Media

Integrate CSR with Influencer Partnerships

Gen Z values authenticity and purpose. They seek brands that walk the talk when it comes to social responsibility. We’ve adapted by making CSR a core part of our client strategies—not just tacking it on but integrating it deeply.

One powerful tactic? Partnering with influencers who champion causes that resonate with our clients’ Gen Z customers. Co-creating content that showcases the real impact brands are making. Videos, social posts, and stories that inspire and inform.

We also host quarterly roundtables, bringing together Gen Z thought leaders, activists, and entrepreneurs. Candid discussions on the issues that matter most to this generation. Invaluable insights we use to shape campaigns that connect on a profound level.

The key is listening to Gen Z, Understanding their unique perspectives, and then helping brands take meaningful action to address their concerns and aspirations. This is an ongoing journey but an essential one for any socially conscious company today.

Casey Jones, Founder and Head of Marketing, CJ&CO

Create a Genuine User Experience

In our UI/UX agency, we help clients understand their audience, and Gen Z is no different. They care about social responsibility, so we do a deep dive with our clients to see how to craft a brand that appeals to them.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Maybe we suggest using clear, human language instead of corporate jargon on the website. Or visually, we might recommend design elements that feel connected to a cause.

The key is to bridge the gap between the client’s brand and Gen Z’s values. By creating a user experience that’s genuine and transparent, we help clients attract Gen Z and build trust with them.

Juan Carlos Munoz, Co-Founder, CC Creative Design

Showcase Real Actions, Not Just Promises

In response to Gen Z’s love for all things ethical, I pushed our clients towards real action, not just fancy talk. We spotlighted their green moves and community give-backs in campaigns that got everyone talking. For example, I nudged a client to showcase their journey to sustainability, turning it into a viral conversation starter. I’m big on the ‘do it before you flaunt it’ mantra.

So, I got clients to actually “greenify” their operations and support local causes before making a peep about it. Strategically combining actions that help make a difference with carefully planned campaigns can be the best kind of marketing in the right circumstances. Connecting brands with Gen Z’s heart through genuine acts, not just words, became a secret sauce for loyalty.

Shane McEvoy, MD, Flycast Media

Prioritize Sustainable Sourcing and Production

As a founder of a luxury children’s clothing brand, we’ve implemented a strategy focused on sustainable sourcing and production. We prioritize working with suppliers who adhere to ethical and environmentally-friendly practices, ensuring that our garments are not only of the highest quality but also contribute positively to the planet and society.

By embracing sustainability as a core value, we not only meet the preferences of Gen Z consumers but also align with the growing demand for socially responsible brands. This strategy has not only resonated with our clients but has also inspired our team to innovate and continuously improve our sustainability efforts across all aspects of our business.

Katerina Azarova, Founder and Creative Director, Petite Maison Kids

Merge Mental Health Advocacy with Business

In navigating the evolving landscape of consumer preferences, particularly among Gen Z, we’ve found that integrating mental health advocacy and suicide prevention into our core business operations resonates deeply with socially responsible priorities. From my experience with Stay Here, an organization dedicated to mental health awareness and suicide prevention, we’ve crafted a model that seamlessly merges business objectives with social impact.

One specific strategy we’ve employed is leveraging our merchandise as a tool for both raising awareness and funding our initiatives. For instance, each piece of our clothing line carries encouraging messages that spark conversations around mental health, directly addressing an issue that’s significant to Gen Z. This approach not only serves our mission but also aligns our brand with the values of social responsibility and community support that are increasingly important to younger consumers.

Further, we’ve extended our impact through digital platforms, recognizing the power of social media in shaping consumer preferences and behaviors. By creating content that educates and empowers around the topics of mental health and suicide prevention, we engage with our audience in a meaningful way. This digital strategy not only amplifies our message but also strengthens our brand’s position as a socially responsible entity in the eyes of Gen Z, blending purpose with profit.

Jacob Coyne, Founder, Stay Here

Demonstrate Authentic Social Responsibility

Embracing Gen Z’s consumer preferences for socially responsible brands involves more than just marketing; it’s about authenticity and action. I work with clients to create a multifaceted approach within their marketing campaigns:

  1. We peel back the curtain, offering ‘behind-the-scenes’ to showcase our operations and community impact.
  2. Our promotional efforts prioritize products crafted from sustainable, ethically sourced materials, resonating with Gen Z’s eco-conscious mindset.
  3. We champion diversity and inclusion, spotlighting workplace initiatives, training, and uplifting voices of color.
  4. Above all, we cultivate an unwavering commitment to our mission, authentically demonstrating our social responsibility. This genuine dedication, not mere communication, fosters enduring loyalty from Gen Z consumers. It’s not just about what we say; it’s about what we do.

Micah Chrisman, President, Chrisman Creative

Encourage Transparency and Inclusive Practices

It sounds simple, but the biggest shift we encourage our clients to make is to embrace transparency and care across their business.

Depending on the client, this can look like showing prices on their website, even though their competitors rarely do, being open about the stances they take on social justice issues so that potential customers can know if they feel comfortable spending money with them, and prioritizing inclusivity and access in ways that are way less surface-level than having diversity in photos (e.g., sliding scale rates, image and audio descriptions on all content, ASL interpreters during events, etc.).

More than any other generation before, Gen Z expects honesty and humanity from the businesses they support—whether or not brands choose to authentically embrace that will make or break them.

Susana Boey, Brand Strategist, Creative Director and Founder, Susana Boey Creative

Partner with Nonprofits for Authentic Engagement

Given that Gen Z consumers increasingly support value-driven brands, we encourage our clients to partner with nonprofits that align with their mission and resonate authentically with their consumers. We then strategically leverage these partnerships through promotions that both boost awareness and funding.

We also implement CSR-focused applications on our clients’ websites, including eco-friendly shipping options or the ability to support chosen nonprofits with each purchase. This helps consumers make purchases that reflect their values, which in turn helps our clients build stronger trust and loyalty among consumers who favor ethical business practices.

Finally, we create custom icons that showcase our clients’ commitment to social responsibility. For example, if a client uses recycled materials, we design a distinctive, eco-themed icon and display it across all channels, from websites to emails, serving as a constant reminder of the brand’s sustainability commitment. It’s a simple yet powerful way to connect with Gen Z consumers who value CSR.

Toccara Karizma, CEO, Karizma Marketing

Advocate for Labor Protection and Community

We are a staffing business in a niche market. Our industry has a reputation for being fairly transactional. As a business looking to distinguish ourselves, we placed early emphasis on being mission-driven and community-based. Specifically, this has been through partnering with nonprofit organizations that have the best interests of our job candidates in mind.

We have spent countless hours lobbying for labor protections from Seattle to Washington, D.C. We have served on boards and shown up to provide testimony during legislation. This activism shows our job candidates that we are more than just a company connecting them to employers. We truly care about the industry and want to improve it for all workers, whether we represent them or not. We find that this approach creates an organic pull for candidates.

Emily Dills, Founder, Seattle Nanny Network, Inc.

Integrate Green Branding with Core Values

Your social responsibility initiatives are not just an add-on that you set up to get extra PR mileage. They should be integrated with the logo, key values, and main proposition of your business. As a marketer, you should create a green marketing and branding strategy that resonates with your overall brand strategy to engage your customers.

Don’t forget: your sustainability message needs to be consistent, clear, and believable across all your contacts. Remember to infuse your brand’s voice, manner, and attributes into the communication of your sustainable vision and core values. Show your consumers, through a concrete example, how eco-friendly initiatives enhance your brand and company image.

Gavon Burkdull, CEO and Co-Founder, Zestain

Spotlight Sustainability in Client Projects

We’ve introduced a “Sustainability Spotlight” feature in our client projects to align with Gen Z’s preference for socially responsible brands.

We select a project or campaign that exemplifies exceptional commitment to environmental sustainability or social responsibility each month. This highlights and rewards our clients’ efforts, sets a standard, and inspires other clients to incorporate similar values into their brands.

This strategy has encouraged our team and clients to think innovatively about sustainability, fostering a culture that values and prioritizes social responsibility in every aspect of our work.

Daniel Bunn, Managing Director, Innovate

Develop “Give Back” Plugin for Retailers

It’s a wave of change that we’ve not just ridden but also sought to amplify, integrating social responsibility into the very DNA of our client projects and team ethos. Here’s a glimpse into how we’ve embraced this evolution, crafting strategies that resonate with the values and expectations of a generation poised to redefine the marketplace.

Developing a “Give Back” Plugin for Online Retailers: In a bid to seamlessly integrate social responsibility into the online shopping experience, we developed a ‘Give Back’ plugin specifically designed for online retailers. This tool enables customers to contribute a portion of their purchase to a charity of their choice at checkout.

It’s a feature that not only elevates the brand’s CSR profile but also empowers consumers to participate in charitable activities, making each purchase about more than just acquisition. This plugin turned the checkout process into a moment of connection and contribution, transforming ordinary transactions into acts of kindness and solidarity. It was like adding a soul to the skeleton of e-commerce, breathing life into each transaction by embedding a deeper sense of purpose and connection.

Marc Bishop, Director, Wytlabs

Highlight Ethical Practices via Influencer Marketing

Adspace has collaborated with numerous brands targeting Gen Z’s preference for socially responsible companies. This was clearly illustrated in our collaboration with Aurate, a contemporary jewelry brand focused on creating high-quality, ethically-sourced pieces. Through extensive influencer marketing campaigns, we spotlighted Aurate’s ethical and sustainable practices.

We communicated that they are using recycled gold and conflict-free diamonds. We chose influencers who align with the brand’s ethical values. Their integrations felt authentic and catered to their audience’s specific needs, effectively showcasing the brand’s ethics while achieving solid KPIs. This approach resulted in an outstanding 103% increase in Aurate’s return on ad spend (ROAS) and a notable 148% surge in their organic social following.

Dan Ben-Nun, Founder and CEO, Adspace

Incorporate Eco-Advantages in Amazon Listings

We are a full-stack Amazon agency and work with many brands. We incorporate eco-advantages into the Amazon listings we build for our clients so Gen Z Amazon shoppers understand the eco-advantages and eco-differentials of the product right when they land on it while shopping on Amazon.

Lori Fields, Founder, Director of E-commerce, and Amazon Strategist, Jay Street Partners

Implement Seafood Traceability Measures

As a CEO in the culinary industry, an understated concern is being a socially responsible brand. We have given importance to seafood sustainability and its impact on supply chains. To address this, I have embarked on a unique approach by collaborating with seafood experts and local fisheries to implement traceability measures.

By incorporating blockchain technology, we aim to track the journey of seafood from source to table, ensuring sustainability standards are met while enhancing transparency for consumers. This proactive step not only addresses potential supply chain disruptions but also aligns our business with ethical and environmental principles. Through this innovative strategy, we’re not only preparing for potential crises related to seafood sourcing but also fostering trust with our customers by prioritizing sustainability in our offerings.

Another way we have incorporated our sustainability goal is through the sustainable sourcing of seafood raw products. We adopt a similar ethos by focusing on sustainable seafood selection and educating customers on responsible sourcing.

Curating a selection of seafood that prioritizes sustainability certifications, traceable sourcing, and low-impact fishing practices sets our business apart. We engage customers through informative content such as cooking tutorials. We highlight sustainable seafood preparation techniques, the importance of ethical sourcing, and the impact of responsible consumption on marine ecosystems.

Joe Bowab, CEO, Lobster Anywhere

Enhance Public Speaking on Social Responsibility

As an entrepreneur navigating the shift towards socially responsible consumption, particularly among Gen Z, transparency and authenticity have been my guiding principles.

Recognizing the importance of aligning with these values, I’ve focused on enhancing my public speaking skills to openly communicate our commitments and initiatives. This approach not only clarifies our stance on social responsibility but also strengthens our brand’s integrity in the eyes of our clients and their consumers.

Additionally, investing in my personal brand as a speaker has surprisingly expanded my network, opening up more opportunities than anticipated. This strategy has proven effective not just in aligning with Gen Z’s expectations but also in fostering genuine connections and trust within the industry.

Delante Greer, Financial Planner, Opulentia LLC

Originally Appeared Here

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