Gen Z Marketing: Move Beyond ‘Omnichannel’ to Personalized CX ‘Multi-Experiences’
Recently, we’ve discussed how truly knowing your consumer through a Single Customer View is useful to drive personalization of engagement. This week, I would like to explore some specifics on why knowing your consumer is critically important to the up-and-coming generation of consumers—Generation Z.
This past weekend I went hiking and camping with a group of Boy Scouts. We had a 4-hour plus drive to the campsite which gave me a chance to talk to these boys about a wide range of topics. My two children are in their early 20s, and they would be considered to be at the leading edge of Gen Z; today’s Scouts are in the middle of the generation, and it was interesting for me to compare and contrast their behaviors and attitudes with those of my own kids. Granted, this is an extremely small sample size, but my observations play out in broader studies.
Much has been written about Gen Z being the first digitally native generation, and if you have children you are very well aware of this. For me, it was amazing to see how intertwined the boys were with their phones—they literally were an extension of them. At night, the glow of their cell phones in the tent was a bit eerie looking; we eventually had to confiscate some of them to get the boys to go to sleep. I was reminded of a Center for Generational Kinetics study that stated that 58% of Gen Z can’t go more than 4 hours without Internet access before they become uncomfortable. A colleague of mine recently recounted something a client told her, namely that consumers are not going digital, they ARE digital. For Gen Z, there is really no distinction between the digital and physical worlds.
A few years ago, Gartner introduced a concept called the “Everything Customer”—customers that want everything—for example both data privacy AND hyper personalization. A component of the Everything Customer is an evolution away from omnichannel experiences to what Gartner termed multi-experience. According to Gartner, “multi-experience replaces technology-literate people with people-literate technology.” In this trend, the traditional idea of a computer evolves from a single point of interaction to include multisensory and multi-touchpoint interfaces like wearables and advanced computer sensors.” This shouldn’t be confused with omnichannel as the two concepts are quite different. Omnichannel is concerned with capturing and using the consumer journey touch points across all of their channels. Multi-experience is about developing and delivering seamless consumer experiences across apps, websites, and interactions of text, voice (and even touch), regardless of the channel.
“Multi-experience replaces technology-literate people with people-literate technology.”
Even though the focus on these concepts has diminished a bit since the end of 2020, the ideals are still relevant: consumers, namely Gen Z, expect a seamless, frictionless experience wherever they are (including physical and digital experiences) with your brand. The term that really caught my attention with the concept of multi-experience is people-literate technology. As the 65 million Gen Zers move into the workforce and become the dominant source of purchasing power, we can evolve past technology-literacy since this generation IS digital. To have people-literate technology requires having a capability to capture and manage data about them and then to use that data to deeply understand them at the personal level. Interestingly, the previously mentioned study found that 66% of Gen Zers believe that all websites will “talk” to each other, so every site/app/appliance will present a personalized experience. That truly is multi-experience in action!
Which brings us to the question of why is this understanding of Generation Z so important for marketers? I believe there are 2 key reasons:
- Generation Z demands authenticity and transparency in exchange for brand loyalty
- Generation Z wants brands to stand for something bigger than just the brands themselves—they want them to take a stand on social issues
Delivering on authenticity and transparency can take on many forms—ranging from something simple such as using actual customers in advertising (82% saying they trust a company more if it uses images of real customers in its advertising) to having measurable climate change goals.
Of course, meeting this requirement can be a bit like walking on a tightrope. It requires understanding how your consumers define transparency—is it simple and clear data privacy standards? Is it unfiltered reviews of your products on your website? Is it unvarnished statistics of the environmental impact of your supply chain? Without clearly understanding what is important to your consumers, you run the risk of transparency backfiring and making your brand appear hypocritical or fake.
But there is a bright spot; in a survey of Gen Z taken in Singapore, 96% of those surveyed said they would be willing to pay a premium for brands that are transparent. The key is to determine what transparency means to your brand and consumers and then create an engagement strategy that will engender credibility to build trust.
Generation Z also wants brands to care about social issues—with 75% stating that it’s important for brands to take a stand. Generation Z wants there to be change for the better and believe that brands can be an important contributor to change. For example, 66% of consumers believe brands can make a real change through their engagement via social media.
However, as with transparency and authenticity, you need to proceed with caution. Gen Z is extremely informed and savvy. Addressing issues and taking a stand that could be perceived as outside of your brand promise could lead to a significant backlash. Whether the issue is political, social, or environmental, your brand needs to be genuine and consistent. Again, this comes down to having a deep understanding of your consumers so that your messaging is aligned with their belief systems and your company’s actions.
In the near future, the focus on millennials will shift to Generation Z. As part of your organization’s digital transformation efforts, think about how you will harness and manage consumer data so that your brand can best deliver the multi-experience that Generation Z expects. And their expectations are high—for example, Gen Z has been termed the most impatient generation. One study found that they are very likely to hang up if a call isn’t answered within 45 seconds. Are you ready to deliver a fast, seamless multi-experience?
To learn more about being digital, check out Episode 6 of CPG Bytes, where we talk about Burberry’s success in digital transformation.