Study: Gen Z digital, decisive and drone-ready

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

More than any generation before it, Gen Z has high expectations related to customer service and engagement across emerging channels.

That’s according to a new report by American Express, “Raising the Bar: How Gen Z Expectations Are Reshaping Brand Experiences.” The study, conducted by Forrester Research, surveyed 1,027 North American Gen Y (ages 23 to 37) and Gen Z consumers (ages 16 to 22).

Gen Z is already financially empowered, with 81% making purchases on their own. It also has mobile spending power, with 59% having made a purchase via mobile app in the last year. Meanwhile, 33% of Gen Z respondents have used a device specific mobile wallet (i.e. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Android Pay) in the last three months, data revealed.

Their financial independence also influences their high expectations among brands — especially when it comes to gaining their trust. That said, 46% of Gen Z respondents said that data security and privacy is a must-have to keep their business.

Members of Gen Z are also mobile natives. Thus, they don’t find it invasive to receive texts, notifications or offers from brands via mobile — even more so than their Gen Y predecessors. In fact, 22% of this group are more likely than Gen Y to prefer in app notifications to receive offers, incentives and sales notifications.

Compared to Gen Y, 23% of Gen Z’ers are also more likely to prefer interacting via social media to receive offers, incentives and sales notifications. This group is also 100% more likely than Gen Y to prefer interacting via online chat technology (i.e. WhatsApp).

“Our research shows that Gen Z is two steps ahead when it comes to interest in payments solutions and technology, and their expectations of brands,” said Luke Gebb, senior VP, enterprise digital, American Express.

For example, Gen Z also shows increased proclivity towards adopting self-service and automated resources. More than twice as many Gen Z consumers ranked using text/SMS messaging, searching online resources and talking over the phone with an automated system (i.e. not speaking with a customer service rep but rather using automated menus) as their top three preferred customer service channels to solve a problem, over Gen Y. Gen Y was twice as likely to want to use chat messaging on a company’s website and 25% more likely to resolve an issue via phone, according to data.

Gen Z’s brand loyalty is closely tied to seamless customer experiences. For example, Gen Z respondents said they were more likely than Gen Y to become disloyal to a brand due to poorly designed mobile features; slow response during online chat for sales or customer service issues, and poor features/responsiveness on social media.

Meanwhile, Gen Z was two times more interested than Gen Y in features that embody instant gratification. These include one-hour deliveries made by drones; the ability to purchase products or services via chat apps or social media (i.e. making a purchase via Facebook Messenger); personalized experiences via bots and AI, and the ability to pay using a watch or other wearable device, the report revealed.


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