Let me ask some reflective questions: Are you positioned to acquire and retain Gen Z and Gen Y as your customers? Why do these generations matter to your brand?

With the demographic shift in the workforce, Gen Z and Gen Y are becoming key players globally. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Gen Z will constitute about 30% of the U.S. workforce by 2030, occupying approximately 50 million jobs. Gen Y already represents 35% of the workforce and is projected to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Together, these generations will dominate the workforce, influencing collaboration, management, leadership, and business partnerships.

Gen Z and Gen Y differ in motivations, preferences, and communication styles, but both are redefining traditional work norms and engagement. Forward-thinking organizations are implementing strategies to acquire and retain these younger generations. Leaders and managers from older generations are making concerted efforts to understand and adapt to leading and managing these dynamic groups. Gen Z and Y are moving into pivotal roles economically, socially, politically, and technologically, necessitating a strategic focus on them.

Acquiring and Retaining Gen Z & Gen Y as Customers

As organizations adapt to acquire and retain Gen Z and Gen Y as employees, it’s equally crucial to consider how to acquire and retain them as customers. Given that Gen Y is the largest portion of the world’s population and, combined with Gen Z, forms a significant consumer base, organizations must appeal to these demographics to earn their trust and business. The question is: How are organizations positioning or repositioning strategies to attract Gen Z and Gen Y as customers? Without a doubt, these generations will be the primary consumers of products and services across industries, making it essential to secure their business. Understanding their unique motivations behind buying behavior is crucial.

Gen Z and Gen Y favor non-traditional business approaches that extend beyond internal needs, market share, and profits. They are drawn to purpose and values-driven brands, placing high importance on social responsibility and environmental sustainability. These generations prefer to do business with companies that reflect their own values and perspectives. According to Fran Maxell of Protiviti, Gen Z’ers are willing to “spend dollars on organizations that align with their values. They’ll spend more if it’s a socially acceptable organization.”

Consequently, customer-centric organizations are better positioned to acquire these generations. These organizations prioritize the triple bottom line—people, planet, and profits—demonstrating a commitment to more than just internal successes and financial gains. Customer-centric organizations are also known for values such as being purpose and values-driven and caring deeply about social context, environmental issues, and inclusion. These core values are fueling the younger generations’ consumer spending and behavior.

How Customer-Centric Strategies Attract and Retain Gen Z and Gen Y Customers

How is Patagonia Leveraging Customer Centricity to Acquire Gen Z and Gen Y as Customers?

What makes customer-centric organizations better positioned to acquire and retain Gen Z and Gen Y? What do they do differently, and what can we learn from them? Organizations like Nike, Spotify, Patagonia, and Netflix are successfully engaging Gen Z and Gen Y by implementing strategies that resonate with these generations. Attributes these brands have in common with the younger generation are the desire to push boundaries, being non-traditionalists, and challenging the status quo.  In this article, I will focus on one company, Patagonia, and discuss a few strategies that are helping the company win with Gen Z and Gen Y.

Patagonia is an outdoor apparel company that sells clothing, sportswear, and gear for activities like skiing, surfing, and climbing. It has built its reputation by offering simple yet stylish products, prioritizing sustainability, and responsible supply chains. By integrating sustainability into its business model, it encourages conscious consumption and fosters a culture of durability and repairability. As a result, it has successfully acquired Gen Z and Gen Y through its customer-centric approach, focusing on sustainability, transparency, community engagement, and ethical practices. Let’s consider some of the customer-centric tactics that help Patagonia achieve this success:

1. Commitment to Sustainability

Patagonia is known for its strong commitment to environmental sustainability. The company uses recycled materials in its products and strives to minimize its environmental footprint. It participates in environmental activism, supporting various environmental causes and encouraging customers to engage in activism. The organization is recognized for donating 1% of all sales to environmental nonprofits.

Why is this important to Gen Z and Gen Y: This aligns with their desire to support brands that contribute positively to the world. Gen Z is emerging as the sustainability generation, with most preferring environmentally friendly brands and willing to pay 10% more for sustainable items. Reports indicate that 3 out of 4 Gen Z consumers prioritize sustainability over brand names when shopping.

2. Community and Social Engagements

Patagonia takes a strong stance on social and community issues. For example, the company has taken legal action against government policies that harm the environment and has run bold advertising campaigns to raise awareness about climate change. The company promotes an inclusive culture, supports diversity, and ensures all customers feel valued and represented. From a community engagement perspective, its Worn Wear program encourages customers to recycle and repair their gear. This initiative not only appeals to environmentally conscious customers but also fosters a sense of community.

Why is this important to Gen Z and Gen Y: Growing up in a digitally connected world, they have greater access to information and are more aware of global and local issues, which has heightened their sense of social responsibility. Witnessing economic, social, and environmental challenges firsthand has motivated them to seek change and be proactive in addressing these concerns.

How Customer-Centric Strategies Attract and Retain Gen Z and Gen Y Customers

3. Organizational Identity

Patagonia’s values, such as integrity and justice, foster transparency and ethical practices. It’s transparent about its supply chain, providing detailed information about the sourcing and manufacturing of its products. This openness builds trust among younger consumers who value ethical production. Its commitment to fair labor practices ensures its employees are treated ethically and paid fairly. Patagonia’s mission is to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”

Why is this important to Gen Z and Gen Y: An organization’s identity, including its values, mission, and vision, is essential to Gen Z and Y as customers because they prefer to support and remain loyal to brands that reflect their personal principles and ethical standards.

4. Personalized Experiences

The ability to personalize products and services adds significant value to the overall customer experience. Patagonia engages with customers through personalized marketing, such as targeted email campaigns and social media interactions tailored to individual interests and past purchases. Its marketing content has visuals and compelling narratives that attract Gen Z and Gen Y. Their marketing campaigns are non-traditional but innovative, often showcasing real stories of people who use their products. Collaborating with influencers and activists who align with their brand values helps Patagonia reach and influence Gen Z and Gen Y. These partnerships amplify their message and increase brand visibility among younger demographics.

Additionally, personalized product options are available, such as customizable jackets and gear, allowing customers to select specific features and designs that suit their preferences. Products are durable and provide longevity, which aligns with these generations’ minimalist and sustainable values. The company promises a great customer experience by providing personalized support, assisting with product recommendations based on individual activities and environmental conditions. Its product guarantee program, which promises to repair, replace, or refund products that don’t meet customer expectations, enhances customer trust and loyalty.

Why is this important to Gen Z and Gen Y: Personalized customer experiences are valued by the younger generations because they value individuality and self-expression. They allow them to feel seen and catered to, reflecting their unique preferences and needs. Tailored interactions and product recommendations ensure the content and offerings are relevant to their interests and enhance their overall satisfaction and engagement with the brand. Personalization fosters a deeper connection and loyalty to the brand, as it demonstrates that the company understands and cares about them on a personal level.

Conclusion

What can you do differently to position yourself to attract Gen Z and Y as your customers? They are non-traditionalists, they do not do “business as usual,” and because they are becoming the biggest market, they cannot be ignored. Customer-centric organizations like Patagonia are ahead of the curve, as their values and business practices align with these younger generations. Not all companies are the same, but the values and initiatives implemented by Patagonia resonate deeply with Gen Z and Gen Y. What resonates with your brand that can also resonate with Gen Z and Y? Understanding and adapting to their unique preferences and values can position your organization for success with these influential generations.

For more details contact us at info@almentainternational.net or visit www.almentainternational.com.

Mary Ritz, PhD
President & Founder
Almenta International, LLC