Candle making is a cross-generational activity. Candles’ consumption, however, has been shifted in the last decades from a fundamental need to a commodity. In today’s post, we’ll focus on how to make and market value-based candles for present and future consumers: the Gen Z.
In a recent survey conducted by UNiDAYS, 72% of Gen Z interviewed stated that managing stress and mental health is their most important priority, along with a well-balanced diet (68%), exercise (61%) and having enough sleep (60%).
As candle makers, we know how candles bring positive and soothing effects. Psychotherapist Chryssa Chalkia wrote an insightful article on the role played by candles in the physiological effects of mood, stress, and overall mental health.
Gen Z is willing to spend money in exchange for perceived value, but they want quality products and experiences, not throwaway goods.
Our challenge is to get to know them well to serve them properly.
Let’s dive into it!
Gen-Z Traits Overview
Being the generation born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Zers are the true digital natives since they have been bombarded/exposed from their earliest youth to the internet, social networks, and mobile devices.
Due to this exposure to the internet, plenty of data is available to gather insights from this generation and better understand how to serve them as candle makers.
One of the core ideas behind this generation is that they avoid labels and value individual expression, actively mobilising themselves towards causes they believe in and are much more willing than the previous generations to use dialogue to mitigate conflicts.
I’ve been researching this topic a lot, not only for candle making but also for the other digital solutions that I create. One of the most exciting reports I found was published by McKinsey in 2018, and this paragraph tries to summarise those points referencing them to candle making. We will decline those points further to make them work for our scented businesses from this common ground.
The research mentioned above has identified four essential traits by interviewing and researching a pretty large sample of Gen Zers.
- Undefined ID: Gen Zers don’t define themselves with one stereotype, but they are relatively open to experimenting with different ways of being themselves and shape their individual identities over time
- Communaholic: it might sound dystopian for us (I’m a millennial), but they don’t distinguish between friends they meet online and friends meet in the physical world; The power of communities, online ones, is a foundational value because the majority of Gen Zers think that online communities because grant access to people of different economic circumstances without discriminating for their race, wealth or country of origin.
- Dialoguer: one of the traits that are more prominent in this generation is their strong pragmatism, and it’s highlighted by their interactions with political and religious parties with opposite beliefs. Gen Zers extract whatever makes sense for them individually.
- Realistic: Gen Zers are less ideological than Millenials, and they value stability versus more flexible approaches to work and life.
Now that we found out about those traits, we can lay down some cornerstones on how this generation has and is reshaping consumption. This is an orange flag for us candle makers because it could influence our revenues in the mid-long term.
Consumption isn’t more about possession but access. This means that this generation, way more than any other before, prefers to have access to products or services, not necessarily owning them (i.e. Netflix). Moreover, referencing their pragmatic and realistic trait, they expect access to a wide range of info and evaluation before purchasing.
Consumption is an expression of individual identity. Consumption becomes a means of self-expression; Gen Zers love personalised products. Most of them are willing to pay a premium for products that highlight their individuality without classifying them as male or female.
Consumption is a matter of ethical activism: They expect brands to take a stand toward a specific cause that makes sense, and they want to understand what the brand has to say about those particular causes.
Why Gen Z is Important for Your Candle Making Business?
Time passes quickly, and we grow old, not only us – that would be pretty dystopic! Everyone grows, and many enter young adulthood and implicitly transition to a brand new phase of their lives: they become new buyers.
As candle makers, but more in general as businesses, we should always be aware of our customers when we enter a specific market.
Gen Zers are our present new customers and the future ones for at least a good decade ahead. That’s why Gen Z is so important to sustain our businesses.
Now that we’ve settled that Gen Zers are our present and future customers, we should also consider a broader perspective because having them entering as new buyers, the entire market around us will shape itself around this new generation.
What does it mean: we have to cope with the change, embrace it as soon as possible to be among the first businesses ready to serve the new generation of customers, and positioned ahead of our current competitors.
Before diving into how to make and market candles for Gen Zers in the paragraph below, the last point is the need to discover new ways to communicate and places to look for our new target audience.
I hope I have convinced you that your candle making business needs to invest and shape towards the new generation of consumers.
Now it’s time to get our hands into the wax!
How To Make Candles for Gen Z?
Here we are! Time to make some Gen Z compliant candles!
Nothing will change from making candles: wax is still our best friend ingredient, the organic one!
But a candle isn’t only a wick and some wax. It’s a gateway to experience a particular moment, streams of thoughts, to create a soothing atmosphere where to lose ourselves in some precious and so needed self-time.
Minimalism and flat colour palettes are the way to go. Retail and furniture advertising have adopted the trend for some years already. They convey their concepts simply and elegantly. Their visual message is never cluttered but has space, and the colour palette is mainly composed of flat colours.
It somehow gives a sense of neutrality, and this neutrality helps put the consumer into the portraited scene.
We have to achieve the same with our candle making experience. We have written a lot about the overall candle making experience, from scents to packaging, and if you haven’t, I strongly invite you to check those articles out.
Minimalism isn’t only about colours. However, it’s also about scent. The most natural scents you can trigger, the better. Here you can find some great scents to use.
The concept of visual and olfactory neutrality brings us to the second factor in making candles for Gen Z: the gender-neutral factor.
As millennials, we’ve been bombarded by strong gender-specific images and stereotypes. It’s time to break this consumeristic and objectifying chain and go to a more open and respectful product-making process.
Here, a brand could avoid stereotypes on naming, labelling, packaging, dyeing, and even scenting your candles. It feels pretty obvious, right, but if you look over Amazon, you see products that aren’t in line with this concept at all!
The last point that your brand can and should adopt is a good cause. As candle makers, at least if you’re following our journey, we are already on the good side because we decided to use organic products and be sustainable – using recycling material for everything from wick to packaging.
You should feel proud to advertise and talk about those choices because Gen Z appreciates brands that stand for a good cause, as seen in the paragraph above.
If you implement these three points above into your candle making process, vision and strategy, you will be knocking on the doors of welcoming Gen Z customers.
How to Market Candles to Gen Z?
Now that we know how to make candles appealing to Gen Z, we want to understand how to market them and their decision process to buy candles.
We have seen that what this generation wants the most is to gather information about a particular product, both from the brand itself and the community. So it’s crucial to be aware of this sense of social proof that people need to give value to a product before purchasing it.
If you are selling candles online, boost the social proof, such as reviews or user-generated content (previous customers who share your product on their socials). Use your socials to talk about your causes, initiatives and customers; not much about your product.
Gen Z is truly native. They would know where to find the link to buy to your store; it’s better to use each character you have to talk about your brand instead.
On making buying decisions (data extracted by UNiDAYS): 77% of Gen Zers are influenced by what friends say, 65% decide after looking at product reviews, 57% from family, and surprisingly below 50% take decisions from social media, and only 38% of Gen Zers buy a product after being exposed to ads.
Let the insight above resonate: don’t spend money on ads. Instead, spend time “perfecting” your product and let customers engage and talk about it.
Good initiatives you could have in your social media channels are “invite a friend” or “gift it to a friend” those are messages and campaigns that you could test and try. We haven’t done that yet, so I’m throwing this to you. If you implement it, let us know how did it go!
If you don’t have an online presence, afraid not – because the second most favourite place where Gen Zers love to buy are: pop-up stores!
That’s the best news for those who manage to get to the end of this article. With a pop-up store, we can quickly test our message, packaging and product and see how it performs with different generations because you can see and talk to each one of your customers. So we strongly invite you to talk and get to know them a bit, collect info, and we are sure you’ll draw some great insights afterwards.