As the first wave of 20-something Gen Z customers enter the e-commerce market, organisations find themselves faced with a generation that has never known a world without mobile phones or the Internet. For Gen Z, the digital landscape is not a novelty; it is an integral part of their daily lives, something they have always known. To effectively engage this tech-savvy and digitally native generation, brands must listen and adapt to their unique preferences.

Gen Z’s customer experience needs are influenced by factors that set them apart from previous generations. While traditional measures such as loyalty programmes encourage repeat business from older generations, Gen Z selects brands based on organisational values, convenience and an omnichannel presence. This disparity highlights the need for brands to delve deeper into what drives the Gen Z customer experience and evolve their strategies accordingly.

With Gen Z wielding around £113 billion of spending power and accounting for 40% of global consumers, organisations must strive to establish lasting relationships with them to continue to thrive. They must consider Gen Z’s shorter attention span and preference for convenience, as well as their emphasis on values. A multichannel presence, lower prices and strategies to increase efficiency are all worthwhile initiatives to implement.

Prioritising convenience and values

The Gen Z customer has a different set of priorities when it comes to selecting which brands secure its custom. Price is a key consideration and as the cost-of-living crisis persists, Gen Z is having to make adjustments when shopping, often compromisingon service and product quality to avoid spending extra money. As a result, 88% are choosing to trade down to lower-priced products.

This does not, however, mean Gen Z is solely driven by price alone. Due to their exposure to global issues through social media, Gen Z is discerning about where it invests its hard-earned money. 

In addition to brand values, Gen Z places convenience at the forefront when it comes to engaging with brands. It seeks out organisations that offer the highest value for money, fast service and flexible payment methods such as buy now, pay later. This willingness to prioritise convenience stems from a generation that has grown up with a lifetime of instant gratification through easy access to resources, fostering an expectation of immediacy.

To secure Gen Z loyalty, organisations must adapt to these evolving expectations by reducing roadblocks and smoothing out the customer journey. This involves exploring alternative methods of delivering products and services by using multiple platforms to reach Gen Z customers where they are most active. By embracing convenience, offering seamless experiences and aligning with Gen Z’s values, brands can forge lasting connections and win Gen Z’s support.

Harnessing the power of omnichannel

In today’s digital age, where Gen Z is 50% more likely to discover products and services through social media, organisations must amplify their omnichannel presence. Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and TikTok have responded by integrating shop features into their apps. The social platforms are also using the influencer trend to attract Gen Z users, as 44% of this cohort admits to purchasing products endorsed by social media influencers.

TikTok’s online shop, in particular, has achieved remarkable success, attracting numerous brands and experiencing a staggering 477 % increase in sales in 2022. Marks and Spencer and London-based shoe brand Naked Wolfe have used the app to increase their own sales with TikTok hashtags and videos, catering to Gen Z’s customer experience needs. The viral hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt, with over 40 billion views, continues to impact purchasing decisions.

In addition to recognising the influence of social media, organisations must also grasp the importance of embracing an omnichannel approach. Gen Z’s preference for multiple channels is evidenced by the fact that 75% of customers use multiple platforms to shop, according to McKinsey’s research. 

By establishing an interconnected network across various platforms, brands can ensure their visibility among Gen Z and be present at every step of their journey. This way, they will be able to form lasting relationships and take advantage of untapped growth opportunities.

Leveraging insights from multiple channels

The benefits of an omnichannel presence are, however, not exclusive to Gen Z alone – organisations, too, can derive value by tapping into their interactions on these channels. The unstructured data and surveys gathered from social media and other platforms can then be harnessed to improve the Gen Z customer experience. Organisations can gather customer experience insights using:

  • AI-driven text and speech analytics. Being the first generation to grow up in the digital age, Gen Z is highly receptive to providing feedback, sharing experiences and expressing opinions regularly. By using text and speech analytics, brands canautomate the process of uncovering key trends and themes in customer feedback, helping them to gain actionable insights from this wealth of data.
  • Social media conversations to identify pain points, resolve issues rapidly and improve customer satisfaction. Organisations can also use these to recognise emerging trends and patterns in Gen Z customer behaviour. As a result, products, services and marketing strategies can be tailored to meet the needs and preferences of this generation.
  • Gen Z’s online presence to learn more about how popular schemes such as ‘buy now, pay later’ (BNPL) affect sales by testing the option during checkout and measuring its impact. They can also gain valuable insights into why Gen Z customers prefer BNPL through post-transaction surveys, which can then help inform future strategies involving this payment method. This way, organisations can narrow in on Gen Z’s customer experience preferences.

Adapting for success

With the rise of social media and the entry of the Gen Z ‘digital natives’ into the market, ‘social commerce’ is fast outpacing traditional e-commerce. Organisations must embrace this trend and position themselves as forward-thinking, customer-centric brands keen to engage Gen Z in the digital age. As Gen Z holds the purse strings of the future, organisations must evolve ifthey want to continue to capture the attention (and custom) of this customer cohort in the long-term.

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