I have opined among my colleagues and friends that brand loyalty is dying. Nowhere is this more true than with Generation Z.

Defined as anyone born as late as the mid-2000s to present day, Generation Z is just starting to mature and spend, and with an estimated average allowance of $70 a month, that equates to an annual purchasing power of $44 billion.

As they start to hit legal employment age, that influence will increase even more.

Moreover, Generation Z is more tech savvy, hyper connected and more likely to share information among peers. Because of this, they depend more on the opinions and recommendations of peers than a branding message to make purchasing decisions.

This trend may be troublesome for corporations with multi-million dollar branding strategies. It is, however, an opportunity for smaller companies looking to capture market share through brand awareness.

To take advantage of Generation Z's fickleness, here are a few business strategies to consider.

Focus on real value. In addition to (or rather than) spending money on pricy marketing campaigns that create perceived value, focus on actual value through better quality, design and manufacturing. The focus will help elevate the reputation of your company and create promoters of your brand through its users.

Prioritize mobile. Generation Z is the first truly social and mobile generation, being accustomed to and relying on mobile devices almost entirely for content consumption, shopping, and interacting with friends. For this reason, your marketing and growth strategy needs to prioritize mobile. Having a mobile-ready website and a strategy to consistently engage with customers through social media.

Emphasize transparency. Generation Z is the generation of sharing -- everything -- and they expect the same from their companies. In the past, companies could bury problems and failures by controlling the public message. Today, however, social media and peer reviews give the power to immediately disseminate information and, hence, the control of message to those creating them. Companies should be willing and prepared to face challenges head-on with a well thought out and, more importantly, "rapid-response" strategy for dealing with conflicts.

Aim for convenience. Companies should not assume that customer service techniques of the past (call centers, for example) will in any way satisfy this new generation. Generation Z demands the immediate convenience of browsing, shopping and customer service delivered through mobile and social-media channels. Your business strategy, from customer service to marketing to recruitment, needs to put convenience first.

Respect privacy. While Generation Z is a sharing generation, they are much more tech savvy than most. They understand (or will understand) better how to control their privacy settings and the implications of oversharing. Businesses should continue to leverage data to help make the experience better for Generation Z, but they should also be prepared to give privacy much more focus and respect.

Adapt to tastes. Generation Z is unique in that members both respect and value individuality while placing great importance on group acceptance. It is a complicated balance, one that will baffle older generations (myself included) but provides a great opportunity to companies who understand and can provide this.

Generation Z is more complicated and demanding than generations prior, which poses challenges for older business managers. For companies that have the patience and a solid strategy to deal with them, however, a large swatch of consumers with growing purchase power and no brand loyalty is looking to be courted.

What tips do you have for businesses trying to make a more significant impact with Generation Z? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Published on: May 22, 2015
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