- Posted by Megan Paquin
- On September 11, 2020
- communications, internal communications
As a Millennial who sat through countless presentations about my generation, from dissecting why we wanted to be quickly promoted and compensated more to how companies can earn more of my dollar, it is a little strange for me to sit down and write about what we can expect from our friends in Generation Z. But unlike my predecessors who lamented the Millennials’ relentless drive and discerning spend, I’m here to say Gen Z will save us all. But we have to save ourselves first. Business-to-business companies, law and other professional service firms need to learn more about these individuals, empathize with their life experiences and adjust their business strategies accordingly, if they want to benefit from Gen Z’s rise.
Born After 1997, with a Desire for Change and Know-How to Act On It
Comprised of individuals born after 1997, Gen Z is estimated to soon become the largest U.S. consumer population. Their generation is considered the youngest, most ethnically diverse generation in American history, and Gen Z is often described as “digital natives.” Because of they were born with the technologies many of us Millennials had to acclimatize ourselves with, Gen Z is also often stereotyped as “tech addicted” and “anti-social.” However, it’s their access to technology which makes Gen Z more conscious of social issues – and, more apt to demand change when those issues affect them. Issues like climate change, diversity, equity and inclusion all rank high on the average Gen Z radar. And, here’s the kicker – not only will Gen Z voice their desire for change, they know how to act on it.
“Belief-Driven Buyers” Voting with their Dollars
The concept of the “belief-driven buyer” is not new, and we talk about it all the time as we learn more and more about how we make decisions – from what car to buy to assessing damages as part of a jury verdict. Over the last several years, the number of American consumers who indicate they will buy, switch from or boycott a brand based on its stance on societal issues has only continued to increase. Gen Z is the ultimate “belief-driven buyer,” voting with their dollars on how our society moves forward.
Incorporating Values into the Bottom Line
So, what does that mean for business-to-business companies like law firms? It means that now more than ever, law firms need to address values in their value propositions or risk losing out on the Gen Z talent and spending boom. What does your law firm stand for? Does your current clientele and representative matters speak to these values? Do your legal strategies consider values over, or at least as well as, bottom-line results? These are questions that need to be thoughtfully answered and addressed before Gen Z enters your pipelines for talent or business development.
But what if there is conflict between your values and the business environment? Count on communication and adaption to see you through it. For example, what if you are facing backlash after working with an unpopular client? We live in a world where there are no easy answers, and conflict is the one thing all generations will have as a common life experience, so you can expect Gen Z to be demanding, yet open to hearing your case. Research has shown that when faced with conflict, organizations that make statements of active responsibility are more likely to relieve public anger. Then, Gen Z expects you to back up your statements with specific actions that demonstrate a willingness to learn from your mistakes and do better the next time. In other words, “talk the talk” then “walk the walk.”
By getting yourself in the Gen Z mindset now, you are future-proofing your firm as the world around us continues to evolve. Moreover, those firms who begin to take action now to better understand and align themselves with Gen Z attitudes will be the first to reap success as Gen Z settles into its role as the largest U.S. consumer population. And, if that’s not enough to seal the deal – maybe just helping us all avoid a repeat of those “What’s Up with Millennials?!” presentations will push you over the edge.
Megan Paquin is vice president at Poston Communications, based in Orlando.