It’s time to stop talking about millennials – or if you are a millennial, it’s time for the attention to finally shift – because Generation Z is entering the marketplace with a unique set of expectations and characteristics.
Generation Z is larger than the Baby Boomer or Millennial groups, making up 25% of the population, and even though they are between the ages of 4 and 24, they have incredible buying power because of the influence they have over their parents’ buying habits. This buying power will only increase as they age. Additionally, Gen Z doesn’t even have a memory of dial-up, life without a cellphone, or the inability to YouTube or Google a question because the internet was always readily at their fingertips.
To attract and retain the Gen Z customer, companies need to understand how the following three Gen Z characteristics influence expected customer experiences and then be equipped to deliver.
To begin, technology is a way of life for Generation Z; their cellphones wake them up in the morning, they turned in their 5th-grade homework via a tablet, and they have literally been interconnected with their peers and the world for as long as they can remember.
Additionally, this generation grew up (and is growing up) in the on-demand economy. According to a Business Insider article, “the on-demand economy is defined as the economic activity created by technology companies that fulfill consumer demand via the immediate provisioning of goods and services.” And multiplying the on-demand nature is the immediacy of communication via text and social media. This overall environment has cultivated a demanding customer who expects little or no wait time for goods and services.
How do these two characteristics apply to the customer experience? Generation Z, even more than millennials, expects an efficient, simple, and fast consumer experience because they know nothing less. For them, efficient, simple, and fast includes the ability to engage with companies via online chat and texting. In fact, a quick, omnichannel experience is not a nice to have; it is an expectation.
Mark Mathews, Vice President of Research Development and Industry Analysis at the National Retail Foundation said, “They really expect things to be frictionless. Their world is one of immediacy and convenience, and they want their interactions with businesses to be just as seamless.” This expectation raises the bar and requires companies to invest in solutions to provide that ‘frictionless’ customer experience.
Moreover, Generation Z is more likely to trust peer reviews about products and services versus campaigns. They are quick to read a review or snap, tweet, or post-experiences with their connections because their cell phones are often in their hands. And, with three-quarters of teens with or with access to a smartphone, companies need to pay extra close attention to the customer experience a brand provides.
To meet expectations, positively influence a company’s online and social reputation, and be competitive, companies need to be equipped to provide effortless customer experiences. The pace of technology is exponentially quickening and future generations will expect no less, so make sure your company is investing in the proper technology solutions to stay relevant.