Gen Z was the first generation to grow up with the internet. They’re digital natives in the strictest sense, but by the time most of them were able to use the internet, it was already teeming with search engines, paid advertising and social media.
Regardless of when you were born, people want more personalised experiences, faster service, and more relevant communications. Herein lies a golden opportunity for brands willing to embrace intelligent analytics to better understand each of their customers and deliver them tailor-made experiences that are targeted and relatable.
Typically born from the mid-1990s to early 2000s, Gen Z has been exposed to digital media since birth, so you’d expect them to possess the know how to navigate it with skill and ease. However, a recent Adobe study, Across the Generations, has shown the truth to be a little more complicated.
As part of the study, 1,200 British consumers from an even spread of generations were surveyed about their interactions online. One of the study’s most surprising findings is that Gen Z is the age group most likely to engage with digital media. 43% of consumers suggested Gen Z are the most likely to be influenced online, compared to only 17% for Baby Boomers. What’s more, Gen Z are self-aware of the effect digital media have over them, with 41% agreeing they were likely to be influenced than other generations. Gen Z’s openness online is also evident in their engagement with online advertising, with 52% of Gen Z frequently clicking on digital ads.
Gen Z was found, by a small margin, to be the most idealistic generation when it comes to brands use of data. 28% of Gen Z respondents believed brands “do the right thing” with their data, compared to 26% of Millennials, 27% of Gen X, and only 17% of Baby Boomers.
However, when it comes to sharing their own data, Gen Z are a little more discerning. They are willing to share their data, but only if it improves their overall brand experience. If they don’t see the immediate value in sharing their data with a brand – such as website registration to unlock gated content – Gen Z is the first to stop sharing. According to the survey, Gen Z takes more sophisticated steps than other generations to control the data they share with brands, taking time to configure their data preferences online (33%) and requesting data removal from social media sites (19%).
Does this mean Gen Z is more easily influenced online? Does it mean they are more discerning with their data? Gen Z is simply more used to digital media, and therefore more open to interacting with brands online. However, where Gen Z is more open to digital media, they are also highly pragmatic. As digital natives, they fully understand the data/experience value exchange: they are prepared to share their data with brands, but they expect their overall brand experience to improve in return.
Gen Z is savvy when it comes to controlling the data they share with brands with their data, but they’re not the only generation to respond better when their online interactions are rewarded with some sort of value-add. Whether it’s Gen Z, Millennials, or even Baby Boomers, consumers expect to receive something in return for sharing their data, or for engaging with online advertising.
The bottom line is, experience can’t be taken for granted. The best brands know that in order to succeed they need to provide an engaging, personalised and seamless customer experience that enables them to reach diverse markets, at scale. These are the brands that will win the hearts and minds of customers, no matter which generation they are part of.