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Customer Experience

Who is Coming After Gen Z and What Will They Expect from a Customer Experience?

Mother And Daughter Having Fun

The spending power of Gen Z is predicted to outmatch all the generations before it. Still, it’s never too early to start understanding and planning for capabilities that will be expected from the generation coming next. But who are they? What will they expect from an experience given how they grew up under the influence of Millennials (their parents)? Most importantly, what are we going to call them??

The last question is the easiest to answer.  While the final name will only be known once someone makes it ‘happen’ conversation and speculation have gravitated towards two options—Gen Alpha or Gen C (for, yes, Coronavirus).  I’ll just leave that there and move on to the more critical questions.

What Will They Expect?

Flying cars. REAL hoverboards. Day trips to the Moon. Self-adjusting shoes and clothing.  ‘Hydrate level 5.’

They should expect all these things. We were promised these things by 2015.  Seems like a good customer experience aided by the right tools and technologies will be passé for this generation. Realistically though, they will have grown up amongst generations who witnessed:

  • the birth, adoption, and ubiquitousness of the internet
  • two (hopefully only two)severe recessions
  • parents who have had three or four jobs (conservatively) over their lifetime without guarantee of a social safety net
  • greater social awareness but greater social instability
  • a pandemic resulting in:
    • rapidly shifting social and community norms
    • reliance on technology to learn, eat, work, maintain health
    • ‘bubbles’
    • separation from friends and family
    • feelings of personal, family, community, and world ‘stuckness.’

So What?

Given these reasonably traumatic experiences, it’s fair to think Gen Alpha/C priorities may be rooted in values and motivations related to the tumultuous times they will be influenced by.  What could that look like?

  • Convenience: a more in-depth/broader expectation of “where I am/when I am” fulfillment.   Think beyond curbside pickup and more campsite, drone-driven delivery
  • Value: a redefinition of how value is measured.  It must go beyond functional and address life Changing and Social Impact levels.
  • Accountability: loyalty will be given to brands that provide accountability at every level. Imagine less reporting on CSR initiatives from brands and more enablement of self-service accountability tracking and reporting features for consumers.
  • Lo-Tech, Hi-Touch:  in nascent form, this is called things like “Zero UI” and “Smart Homes,” the fruition of invisible technology that allows less time dealing with technology and more time enjoying life being supported by it for a less complicated, more informed life

We don’t know what the future holds, and it will be at least 20 years before this Gen Alpha/C group comes of age (definitely) renames their generation and shows us what we predicted rightly and wrongly. But we can start thinking about their needs today.  A long-term strategic view of the ‘what ifs?’ now will help you answer the ‘so what?’ in building a foundation that will support a brand surviving and thriving into the next century.

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Kim Williams-Czopek

Kim Williams-Czopek is a Director of Digital Strategy at Perficient. She’s been a senior leader in several digital agencies, digital product companies, and served as VP of Digital on the brand side. She specializes in customer experience, commerce, digital responsibility, and digital business strategies.

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