When optimizing your brand's customer experience, it is important to understand what the next generation of consumers are looking for. Are you representing your brand in a way that highlights not just your brand values, but how it emotionally connects with your target customers?
As the perspective of your users shifts, so must your customer experience. By 2020, Gen Z, those born between 1995 and 2015, will make up over 40% of all consumers. You have to think strategically about your customer experience design to ensure you accommodate the shift from Millennials to Generation Z. This shift is essential in customer experience design. Every interaction from packaging, user experience, environment design, and product design must reinforce your brand's messaging.
Brands such as Apple have perfected this message for Millennials.
Research shows that 3 out of 4 Millennials prefer to buy an experience over something desirable.
Apple used this knowledge to design the customer experience for millennials.
Take purchasing an iPhone as an example. Your journey starts by walking into a well-lit Apple store. The distinctive clean modern arrangement of products highlighted around the environment. You make the purchase, and are presented with a container to unbox - almost like opening a gift. The iPhone itself is sleek and simple. A faultless experience, reinforcing Apple's brand from start to finish, targeted straight at Millennials desire for experiences.
Just as millennials expressed different preferences than their Generation X predecessors, Gen Z has evolved to hold different values. That's why it's critical for brands to consider that perspective when shaping the Gen Z customer experience.
Gen Z customers look at the brands they interact with as an opportunity to use their dollars to have social impact.
They want to use their purchasing dollars to support causes and beliefs they highly value.
Patagonia is a good example of this type of personal and philanthropic connection. Customers purchasing Patagonia have a sense of a small, intimate relationship with a brand that is emphasized when you walk into the store that feels like you are at the bottom of a basecamp.
Furthermore, the store's philanthropic efforts allow the customer to support charitable efforts that go towards making the world a better place. Here's an example of Patagonia's approach to philanthropic retail:
"For decades, Patagonia has been the ultimate store to find eco-conscious clothes… In addition to selling sustainable, affordable clothes and accessories, the company donates its "time, services, and at least 1%" of its sales to making the world a cleaner, greener place."
Patagonia’s end to end experience allows customers to feel philanthropic themselves.
85% of consumers have a more positive image of a company or product when it supports a cause they find important.
Design a customer experience that helps reinforce Gen Z’s desire for something bigger than themselves.
Gen Z’s desires continue on past this to their need to feel a sense of individualism. Growing up in a saturated social media driven society,
Gen Z values individualism more than other generations.
One company taking advantage of this experiential need is Coke. Coke launched a "Stay Extraordinary" campaign in which they teamed with digital printers to print individually designed bottles of Diet Coke. That means that the Diet Coke drinkers could be assured the bottle they were drinking out of featured a one-of-a-kind design seen nowhere else.
Coke appeals to this sense in other ways, too: it also offers bottles and cans of its product with first names written on the label. This motivates Coke drinkers to search for their name at the store and feel an instant individualistic experience. Gen Z's drive for individualism is powerful. A brand that taps into this drive will help connect with those customers.
Companies cannot afford to assume Generation Z resembles the generations before them.
Michael Sprauve owner of Speck Design believes that “Companies must rethink the entire design process. Utilizing a comprehensive design strategy that is customer and human centered, able to capture the process, from Package, User Experience, Environment, and Product Design.”
The knowledge of generational changes must then be incorporated into the design process to remain relevant in today’s quickly changing landscape.