Delivering authenticity will win Gen Z’s loyalty

Amy Collins
4 September, 23

Generation Z uses social media to seek inspiration, research products, and connect with their favourite brands. Peer-to-peer recommendations and influencers account for a large part of the purchasing decision, so it’s not surprising that e-commerce brands targeting younger audiences are investing in influencer marketing and user-generated content (USG) alongside their traditional digital marketing.

However, it’s important to remember that USG can be negative as well as positive. That means everything from the quality of your products to the reliability of your delivery service can be scrutinised by young consumers.

Fashion and beauty online merchants have swiftly embraced USG. Prettylittlething encourages its audience to share photos of their looks and to use the hashtag #prettylittlething. The brand’s Instagram account primarily features USG posts. On average, influencers post 2,000 times with the #prettylittlething hashtag each month, reaching 4.3 million people, according to Hypeauditor[1].

French health and beauty giant Sephora, meanwhile, is facilitating connections between niche, founder-led beauty brands, and popular TikTok creators[2], to tap into new online audiences.

In the age of celebrity-led marketing, it’s fascinating that the number of followers was not the primary factor in Sephora’s selection process for its successful #SephoraSquad[3] Influencer Incubator Program in US and Canada. Instead, Sephora sought to find genuine ‘everyday’ people. As Sephora’s CMO Deborah Yeh stated: “This was our opportunity to find influencers that our customers would be able to identify with.” As a result, the winners of the annual program tend to be non-celebrities with compelling stories, living their lives authentically.

Authenticity – the new currency for conversion, spending, and loyalty

Authenticity is now a key new driver for revenue and loyalty among UK shoppers as the trend for more mindful consumption continues. Our latest research certainly backs this up and shows how important authenticity is for Gen Z.

A survey of over 8,000 global shoppers was the basis for Asendia’s ‘How To Sell Direct In The Age Of The Conflicted Shopper’ Report[4], including over 1,000 UK consumers. It revealed that while 75% of British shoppers plan to reduce spending in 2023, 43% said a brand’s authenticity would make them less sensitive to inflationary price increases. This sentiment rises to 48% of Gen Z and 51% of Millennials.

Clearly, younger consumers are drawn to brands they perceive as credible, authentic, and trustworthy, making such brands well-positioned to withstand economic challenges.

Trust matters at every stage of the buyer journey

Our research confirmed that authenticity in e-commerce shines through in many ways, beyond endorsements from massively successful social media influencers. Things like diversity and body positivity in website imagery; clarity, and honesty about how beauty products are tested and made; and even reliability of delivery, can work towards impressing Gen Z shoppers and winning their long-term loyalty through being authentic.

Younger consumers are quick to notice and punish supply chain issues when they have an impact on the price of goods or the shopping experience. For this reason, retailers should be doing all they can to invest in processes that enhance the smooth running of supply chains and delivery networks, and pre-emptively communicate with customers when things do go wrong. If there are positives to share about delivery services – for example lower carbon initiatives – e-commerce brands should make a point of sharing this on social channels. If influencers can encourage their followers to try greener delivery options, for instance, or return fewer items for the sake of the planet, it would be even more advantageous.

Gen Z consumers are attuned to the reality of climate change and increasingly want to align with green brands that offer sustainable delivery options. E-commerce brands shipping parcels to overseas customers are keen to work with logistics companies that can offer sustainable delivery solutions. For instance, Asendia clients including Bali Body and Chilly’s Bottles can offer carbon neutral cross-border deliveries and returns, because all our international parcel shipping is off-set[5].

Social commerce opportunities

With Gen Z gaining buying power, this target demographic represents a significant opportunity for retailers to gain market share and boost online sales.

Today young shoppers are acting with caution due to the rising cost-of-living, and consuming consciously and mindfully. Increasingly, retailers and brands are being held to account – with authenticity having a significant impact on share of wallet, revenue, and loyalty. Like never before, whatever you’re selling and however you’re fulfilling orders and interacting with this demographic, honesty and dependability will pay off.


[1] https://hypeauditor.com/blog/how-fashion-brands-can-leverage-user-generated-content-from-influencers-to-drive-engagement-and-sales/

[2] https://www.retail-week.com/health-and-beauty/sephora-and-tiktok-launch-incubator-partnership-for-creators-and-beauty-brands/7043362.article

[3] https://www.sephorasquad.com/

[4] https://www.asendia.com/resource/how-to-sell-direct

[5] https://www.asendia.com/sustainability_at_asendia

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