The amount of content written about Millennials is astonishing. They’re naturals with technology and can simultaneously order a coffee at Starbucks while taking an Instagram photo of their name spelled incorrectly on the coffee cup (take it from me, Irish accents don’t help).
Businesses and parents alike have been trying to figure out Millennials for years. And while it appears that brands in different industries have largely solved the Millennial riddle, a new generation has taken the spotlight: Generation Z.
Those born between the mid-1990s and mid to late 2000s differ greatly from Millennials. For one, they’re reluctant to accept a generational label. More important, however, Gen Zers represent a growing segment of U.S. consumers. And as these consumers grow up and gain more power in the professional world, their ability to make an impact on brands’ bottom lines will only grow.
Members of the most connected generation in history are not shy in sharing what they want from brands. Those that capitalize on this information will ultimately reap the rewards.
Here are four ways that brands can attract Gen Z consumers in the experience economy.
As the most self-educated generation in history, Gen Z consumers are incredibly self-sufficient. They value seamless experiences that aren’t broken up by requiring assistance or having to deal with frontline staff. Instead, they prefer to handle things themselves.
Aspect’s 2017 Consumer Experience Index found that Gen Z consumers value the ability to connect with live care agents less than every other generation. And bearing in mind that Gen Z consumers aren’t too interested in pledging allegiances to specific brands, it’s all the more crucial for brands to stand out by providing enhanced autonomy and self-service options.
Providing readily accessible information to Gen Z consumers means they’re less likely to get frustrated and decide not to do business with a brand.
Gen Z consumers have never known a world without the Internet. Having become accustomed to on-demand services like Netflix and Spotify, Gen Z consumers value speed and efficiency.
As a result, brands must traditional customer experiences to ensure less waiting and more action. After all, Gen Z consumers favor brands that prioritize memorable customer experiences.
One notable example, among many, is ‘fine-fast’ food chain Dig Inn, a restaurant with limited table service. This chain — which prioritizes locally sourced ingredients — is especially popular among young professionals. Dig Inn’s offering is fast, efficient and transparent, characteristics that align with Gen Z consumer expectations.
What’s more, the right technology can help drive efficiency – while also supporting a smooth customer/brand interaction – by allowing customer-facing staff to access the right information at the right time.
Larger chains such as Starbucks have led the way in this regard, offering the ability to place a mobile order ahead of time and then walk into the store for pickup. Such options are highly appealing to Gen Z consumers because it saves time and allows for self-service.
Gen Z consumers expect brands to be everywhere they are. They want to be served on the platforms that work best for them, whether that’s Instagram and YouTube for consuming content, or Facebook and Twitter for interacting with brands.
One of the biggest challenges with offering a seamless experience at every touchpoint is ensuring that customer experiences are consistent no matter where Gen Z consumers may be interacting with your brand.
For this to happen, CX programs must focus on collecting relevant data in order to offer a seamless experience. The end-goal is to create a holistic picture of every interaction a customer has with your brand so each customer can be served according to their preferences.
Offering personalization can help drive loyalty and purchasing decisions, but with Gen Z consumers, it’s about more than just adding their first name to an email.
Gen Z consumers favor personalization with a view to individualization. These one-to-one “micro-experiences” are the basis for building brand loyalty and an emotional connection with customers, especially the true digital natives who make up Gen Z.
A notable example of a Gen Z-friendly brand is Sephora. The beauty brand offers different levels of personalized in-store free services based on a customer’s loyalty level. For instance, VIB and Rouge level members can receive a free 45-minute in-store makeover from a Sephora makeup artist.
For brands to stay competitive and keep up with the lofty expectations of Gen Z consumers, they need to stay agile and ahead of the curve. Anticipating what customers are looking for and how they want to be served can be the difference between a loyal customer and a lost customer.
Countless researchers and think tanks will continue to analyze the path towards Gen Z success. At this moment in time, brands like Sephora and Starbucks are undoubtedly succeeding. However, as the spending power of this demographic continues to rise, the ability to create individualized customer experiences on a consistent basis will only heighten in importance.
Generation Z represents the next frontier for brands. It’s time to explore.
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