At nearly 68 million strong and the largest generation in the United States, Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012 – end date can vary depending on the source) is estimated to become the largest U.S. consumer population. This means flexible office space operators should have a strategy in place to market to these future coworkers.
One area of importance to this generation involves communication of brand values. Gen Z consumers want to buy and work from companies who have a social purpose aligned with their own. If your coworking brand has thought about contributing to a social or environmental issue, but aren’t sure where to start, here are 4 tips to help you incorporate a social purpose into your business model.
Use your brand values as a starting point
Don’t know where to start in terms of crafting a social responsibility objective? We suggest that you begin with what you know: your brand values. What is the “internal” part of your brand that makes you unique? What are the fundamentals that guide your purpose, culture, and value proposition? If you are clear about your core values, you can choose a topic (or cause) that is aligned with your existing brand messaging and have something specific to say about that particular issue.
Another way to discover your social purpose is to ask existing members how they see your brand. How would they describe your coworking space and services you offer to another person interested in experiencing your brand? Gather your social proof data by looking through customer reviews to see what people are saying about you. Rather than reinventing the wheel, you can leverage what your members and customers already believe and build a social purpose that compliments these ideals.
Should you decide to implement social responsibility messaging into your business model, the cause should be something that you actually care about. Go deeper than what sounds positive or what seems to be an initiative that everyone cares about at the moment. Authenticity trumps ‘warm and fuzzy” when it comes to taking a stand on something. Gen Z’ers in particular are known to approach brands with a fair amount of skepticism. Unaware of a world without smartphones, being inundated with ads, promotions, and brand messaging is all they know, making them very savvy consumers. It takes more than just inspirational imagery to gain brand trust and loyalty. If a brand’s social purpose lacks commitment, or doesn’t line-up with a company’s actions, the young consumers of today are likely to take their business elsewhere.
When crafting your social purpose, find something that you care about and means something to your brand and company culture. Then you can implement initiatives around it in an authentic and transparent way which is more sustainable in the long run.
Clarity is key when communicating purpose
Once you’ve established your social objective, communicate it in a clear and concise way. A good best practice is being able to explain your social purpose in one sentence. For instance, IKEA is committed to being a circular business and pledges to use only renewable and recycled materials by 2030. The footwear brand, TOMS, pledges to donate one-third of its net annual profits to a giving fund which distributes shoes and grants to charitable organizations they partner with.
Having a clear objective helps shape the perception of your social purpose. Make sure it’s easy to consume. If it’s too long, convoluted, or difficult to understand, people won’t relate to it, and Gen Z’ers in particular, want to buy and associate themselves with brands that have strong value-centered messages. If you want to position yourself to reach this generation of consumers, you don’t want to sound like you’re trying to conquer every problem that exists in the world. Keep the core of your social pledge messaging simple and to the point.
After outlining your social purpose objectives, announce them to your team and integrate these values into your company culture. For instance, consider adding your social purpose objectives to your Employee Handbook, or addressing it during your new employee orientation process. Add it to your marketing strategy to bring awareness to your cause.
Along with making it part of your culture, establish realistic goals and do what you say you’re going to do, especially if you’re looking to engage the Gen Z audience. For example, if your social purpose involves donating workspace to foster youth entrepreneurship, consider partnering with organizations who are helping to empower students through effective entrepreneurship education. Work together with these organizations and come up with a plan to donate X amount of workspace each year to provide youth entrepreneurs a space to study, collaborate and share ideas. Partnering with an organization that is aligned with your social purpose objectives is an efficient way to reach your target audience and honor your commitment.
Lastly, track your progress so that you can measure success. For instance, Pacific Workplaces (PAC), sister company of CloudVO, has recently rolled out a Community Volunteer Program as part of its social responsibility. The program empowers team members to perform acts of service within its broader communities by offering up to 8 hours per month of paid time off to volunteer for charitable organizations to express PAC’s core value ‘We Care’ and to make a difference in their communities.
PAC employees must complete a post-volunteer form with date of service and total hours of community service completed to collect and track data to measure against their goals and objectives.
Which brands do you know of that are executing their social responsibility successfully? We would love to hear from you.
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