Are you ready for the new customers who are going to change the way you do business? You know who they are and most likely think you understand them—and I hope you do. In the near future, Generation Z, also known as iGen, may become your most influential customers. Even if you do understand them, you can’t stop there. You must move to action. In my world of customer experience, we always look for opportunities to make the experience better. We know it works when the customer decides to buy. So, how do we know we’re doing it right?
Jason Dorsey, the leading Gen Z and Millennial generation keynote speaker and researcher, has written an important book, Zconomy: How Gen Z Will Change the Future of Business – and What to Do About It, and given us the roadmap to ensure we’re doing it right. “Do not view Gen Z as a more extreme version of Millennials. They are completely different,” says Dorsey. While there are plenty of amazing insights in the book, one part that stood out to me was the chapter on customer engagement and awareness—specifically, the five key drivers that determine initial purchases. Here they are, followed by my commentary:
1. Price – The research claimed the most important driver of an initial purchase for a Gen Z consumer was price, which fits with the generation’s fiscally conservative reputation. However, it’s not necessarily the lowest price they are after. They want the “best deal,” and that comes from value tied to the quality of the product, ease and convenience of the purchase, what friends are saying and more. The overall value proposition makes the price less or more relevant.
2. Ease of Purchase – Everyone wants convenience, and that especially applies to Gen Z. I’ve written about this many times, but the harder it is to do business with you, the harder it is to make the sale. Even something as simple as an extra step in your online checkout process will cause Gen Z customers to turn to the competition. Be it online or in-store, focus on an easy and low-friction (or ideally, no-friction) experience.
3. Online Ratings and Reviews – Gen Z puts a lot of stock in what others say. Online ratings and reviews are important as part of their buying experience. They do their research before they buy. According to Dorsey’s 2018 State of Gen Z study, 68% of Gen Z customers read or watch at least three reviews before a first-time purchase. Sixteen percent will read or watch nine or more ratings and reviews before they make that first purchase.
4. Easy Returns – I refer to this as a modified “try before you buy.” In this case, it’s “try after you buy,” but the promise of an easy return can be interpreted as a form of guarantee. Dorsey calls an easy return “a key hidden driver because it affects the risk.”
5. Knowing Someone Who Has Bought and Used the Product – When a friend or family member recommends a product or service, the credibility factor increases exponentially. There is an old saying that people want to do business with those they know, like and trust. The trust part is the hardest one to achieve. Most of the time, the company works hard to build trust. However, that job becomes much easier when its customers do the marketing, so to speak. Word-of-mouth recommendations, especially from friends or family members, are worth their weight in gold.
Gen Z is expected to impact business for at least the next 10 years. Dorsey says, “This generation is a group of diverse, hyperconnected, short-attention span influencers who are a force in business across industries, brands and digital platforms. Gen Z is the number one generation to write positive things online, to recommend brands and so forth. If you win them, you win them and their friends. It’s a huge opportunity.”
When you break it down, their needs and expectations are simple. Make it worth their money to do business with you. Be as effortless, quick and convenient as possible. Make it easy for them to research you and provide plenty of testimonials and reviews, if possible. Of course, there is more, but this is a start. Nail the five drivers listed above and you’ll have the chance to get Gen Z customers “in the door.” Now, getting them to come back? That’s a great topic for future article.