Brands Challenged to Give Millennials and Gen Z Consumers What They Really Want

Jul 30, 2019

It’s official. Physical and digital engagement is paramount for effective customer engagement. No matter what age, gender, or location, consumers around the world agree that when it comes to brand interactions, personal, trusted, and reliable omnichannel engagement is the preferred option and choice. 

Over 85% of 2,000 global consumers surveyed by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, in partnership with Pitney Bowes, reveal that a blend of both digital and physical channel experiences is the preferred way of interfacing with brands, as revealed in a new study, dubbed Critical Channels of Choice. Yet, only 13% of consumers believe that brands are fully meeting this expectation and delivering across both physical and digital channels. 

Bucking the assumption that younger generations are digital-only, 87% of Millennials (born between 1981-1996) and Gen Z (born after 1997) say they prefer an omnichannel choice of communications. Across all generations, key omnichannel touchpoints are an expectation, not an option. These include access to email, phone, web, in-person engagements, video, social media, and printed mail.  The overwhelming majority of consumers – 91% – suggest that omnichannel experiences are either important or critical, with 29% suggesting that companies should be “where I want, when I want, ready to share and communicate how I expect.”

Among the key generational shifts identified by the study:

  • When it comes to channels consumers can’t live without, all but Gen Z reached for their phones. For Gen Z, they simply cannot part with social, which they are likely accessing on their phone.
  • Social emerges as a key channel of discovery and influence for Millennials and Gen Z, while Gen X (born between 1965-1980), Boomers (born between 1946-1964) and the Silent Generation (born between 1928-1945) rely on websites to discover new products, and they admit that web is also the biggest influence on buying decisions.
  • Think only Gen Z is an open book? Think again. Across all generations, the majority of consumers are comfortable sharing some data with brands, especially consumers in Europe who have been well-educated about data and its uses and benefits. In exchange, consumers expect to understand what is collected and how it is used. Specifically, Millennials are slightly more inclined to share more data in exchange for better personalization.
  • Everyone gets frustrated when asked to restart conversations with a brand after they shift to a new channel. But Boomers hold a grudge, as 78% – the highest across all ages – say that this frustration has led them to question why they do business with the brand at all.

One example of how channels are evolving to increase influence and disrupt behaviors can be seen in consumer reaction and reliance on video. Consumers indicate that control, personalization, and the ability to “build-their-own-adventure” were all ways to their hearts and wallets. Nearly half of respondents (48%) said they want to engage with videos that reflected specific products and services they own or are interested in. Another 43% stated they would like video to be more interactive, allowing them to decide what information they can view and when.

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