A few days ago, I found myself at a working meeting with people from three different generations: two babyboomers (also called X), two Millennials (the thirty-somethings, Y) and a representative of the GenZ (a little over twenty years old). A 2-2-1. They are interesting, these meetings where the different perspectives of each generation naturally are manifested before the same reality.
At a given moment of the meeting and in line with some data, a reflection out loud: "If I am not convinced with a medical diagnosis, I consult with another professional." The GenZ responds at the moment: "Well, the first thing I do is check on the internet if what the doctor tells me is correct."
The paradigm shift is clear.
According to the RAE (Royal Spanish Academy) “credibility refers to the ability to be believed. It is not linked to the truthfulness of the message, but to the objective and subjective components that make other people believe (or not) these contents. In order to have credibility, the person or information must build trust in others”.
... it is clear that trust holder has changed between across generations
For the Xs, babyboomers, the reference is sought in the knowledge, in the expertise, in he/she who has studied long years, in the professionals who do it for a living,... those are the profiles that convey confidence and therefore, credibility. The search for credibility is based on a hierarchy, coming from a vertical relationship regarding the topic. It is still the information “officiality” provided by the regulated channel (the media, the company, the bank) or the professional (the doctor, the professor, or even the lawyer) what is pursued. And although the institutional sector is not living its happiest moments after the economic crisis, some sort of unconditional faith and belief in their knowledge still persists.
For GenZs, the values are different and so are their credibility referents. They look for the truth from their peers, from the horizontal environment that is the web, totally opposite to the verticality that their parents appreciate ... Blogs, forums, the social media are their sources. The spontaneity of the digital messages reinforces their perception of transparency, the excess of verticality scares them, transmits opacity ... and generates many doubts. Brands must take into account this different perception of credibility in order to be worth their target's trust.
Values such as TRANSPARENCY, HONESTY, ETHICS are, since the economic crisis (and the subsequent crisis of trust), hygienic values, and without them the consumer/user-brand relationship does not exist: it is vetoed. In the wake of scandals, consumers have learned not to trust anything or anyone; The countless examples of institutions, leaders, brands and companies that have been discovered cheating, lying and hiding facts have taken their toll on us and credibility is today a precious asset of which, at first, few are deserving.
But today, and especially for the Z collective, the youngest one, it is no longer enough for a brand to tell the truth, to have a historical or impeccable reputation -in fact, for the Z generation, unlike its elders, the background does not matter-; What really DOES MATTER is that words go together with FACTS, WITH REALITIES.
This implies that the strategies must be global, not mere communication actions:
… We cannot boast about our sustainability and keep using containers for our products with huge and unnecessary amounts of plastic at the same time
... we cannot carry the banner for the cause of gender equality while sponsoring championships in which the women are used and their role reduced to something purely aesthetic, to simple decoration accompanying the trophy
… We cannot preach about our corporate social responsibility, and be on the news for fraudulent employability policies or bad practices in the governance of the company.
Consistency is key and it is not only about “not doing it wrong” and “not cheating” (though also), but it is about going further and actively progressing towards being brands that are really committed to the causes with which we want to identify as a company.Only in this way, being consistent with our words and our actions, can we really be holders of the precious trust and credibility among our clients. And only then, can we represent a real option for them.