By 2026 the Generation Z will become the largest consumer population in the US and in Europe we will face a very similar transformation. At this moment, Generation Z (born between 2000 and 2015) is in the early stage of graduation or of joining the workforce and they are about to become wealthy consumers. Retail and e-Commerce need to find a way to address and reach this new consumer group in order to turn them into buying customers. Are you prepared for this new generation of customers?
Before we look at what can be done, we must first understand their behavior and how they differ from today’s customer base.
First of all, this customer group is made up of digital natives, they grew up with PCs, Mobile Phones, internet and have been familiar with social networks since the very beginning. They never got to know the old and inflexible websites, which nowadays give every web designer goose bumps. Instead, they expect and are used to smooth and flawless user interfaces - and a good user experience is already the norm for them.
Moreover, this generation is often referred to as Generation Google, because Google was and is their first stop to the internet. This results in two things: First, Google remains their first source for everything - and second, their behavior has changed. Instead of memorizing, they have learned how to find information - anything, anywhere and anytime. And this is also due to the development of search engines and their ongoing development. The earlier Generations got familiar with keywords-based search queries, anything else simply didn’t work at that time, while this Generation more and more searches for semantic phrases and full sentences.
From a behavioural point of view, the attention span of Gen Z is quite short, caused by constant notifications and a constant flood of information. Their attention span is 8 seconds, while that of previous generations is 12 seconds. So you only have eight seconds to introduce your brand.
Search engine optimization and the on-site search function are of great use in marketing
In their spare time, Gen Z can be found mainly on YouTube or social media, where Snapchat is currently the most used platform. It seems obvious that you should therefore advertise on these platforms. But be careful, this generation uses AdBlockers more often than others, about 52% of them use a tool to block ads on websites. Another way is to use influencer marketing on the different platforms, but this sounds more simple than it actually is. The decisive factor is who you choose to advertise your product: 70% say they trust statements from YouTubers rather than traditional celebrities. Interesting about influencer campaigns is that for every dollar spent in a campaign the average sales revenue was $6,50 in the US in 2019. That is a quite high return of invest in comparison to other indirect marketing activities.
A lot has also changed socially. Earlier generations had THE computer that was used by the entire household. Making phone calls and surfing the Internet at the same time often led to family disputes. But in recent years this has changed - we are surrounded by devices that are continuously connected to the Internet - just like Generation Z. They are on the Internet and are constantly changing devices, from tablet to mobile phone, from mobile phone to PC. Tracking these changes, harnessing the information and bringing together the different user profiles requires an Omnichannel sales strategy combined with the right tools.
Whether the classic marketing instruments will become superfluous, we do not know exactly at the moment, because the generation itself is in constant change. While Snapchat is still the leading platform today, the next one may already be on the rise. What we do know is that you need to develop a toolset that allows you to track your target group through various - perhaps as yet unknown - networks, and also interpret their mood and current customer journey. An upside of Gen Z is, that they are more willing to share their opinion, which gives you better insights on how your marketing performs. By simply asking them or by crawling social media posts related to your brand, you get valuable information about your brand reputation and the marketing results.
Analytics is still the most important factor, analyzing customer behavior reveals gaps in the shopping experience that should be closed with new development. Unfortunately, this only gives you a look into the past, retrospective views.
Therefore, make arrangements online and offline to try new things and collect feedback so that you are able to perform A/B tests and other trials.
There are also a few general measures you can consider now, especially in the online environment. Prepare yourself for constant change - adding a microservice architecture layer between your front- and backend allows you to connect your platform to any other system. With this you are prepared to handle a new platform that might appear in the future, independent from frontend, just by connecting the right dots. There might also be platforms without classic frontends like we know them now. If customers want to buy via voice only in future, better be prepared.
As the Gen Z is generation Google, obviously everything should be search engine optimized, but also think of the on-site-search and the customer journey around it. The users most likely skip the shop navigation and start searching right away. This needs to be possible in the user interface, in best case directly on top of the page, not hidden anywhere. The search also needs to understand what the customer tries to find, able to decode semantic queries, identify filter-attributes and interpret slang or symbols. When considering the 8 seconds attention span, make sure that the autocomplete feature works quick and gives good first results for the user, so they continue to search. As soon as the user is on this path and finds the right product, it’s more likely that they will convert.
This is how you can prepare for Generation Z, let’s see what challenges there will be with generation Alpha.
If you want to learn more about how a clever on-site search can be used to increase your conversion rate, download our free whitepaper 'Search & Merch'.
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