As someone born in 1996, I’m stuck on the generational border between millennials and Gen Z, constantly in the middle of culture wars and defending controversial jean styles. Though I don’t always relate to either generation as a so-called “Zillenial,” I tend to lean more towards Gen Z, especially when it comes to my shopping habits.
Other factors that affect how I shop—which are definitely influenced by my generation—include aesthetics, sustainability, and convenience. The world is changing, and the way we shop has changed with it. Though I still prefer to shop in-store for some things, having a package delivered to my house saves me time, hassle, and the risk of COVID infection.
I also have a brand to think about when I shop. As a travel and lifestyle blogger with 1,500 followers on Instagram, I am always thinking about how I can positively influence others. If a product or service doesn’t align with my values, I won’t share it publicly. Engagement and community matter a lot to me, too. So when I see brands that are active on social media, especially with positive customer interactions, I’m more inclined to engage with them and try their products.
What I look for in a brand and how I find their products are both integral parts of the customer experience. First impressions matter, after all. When brands present a beautiful and well-curated customer experience, I’m sold. But, for me, the shopping journey also expands past the point of checkout. I want to engage with your brand after purchase and find value in the content your brand continues to share with me after I’ve made a payment.
So here is my first-hand perspective on how people my age shop, where we find products, and the values we look for in a brand.
How I find products
Discovering brands is the first step of the customer journey for me. Like any 25 year old, I spend a lot of time on Instagram, so my customer experience usually starts there. I also really value recommendations from friends, especially when I have a certain product in mind to buy. Whenever we get together, we often talk about our latest purchases and the products that have been game-changers for us.
Whether it’s through a targeted ad or an influencer I follow, a lot of my purchasing starts on Instagram. There are many bloggers and influencers that share the products they love, many of which are subscription services. I trust their opinion and have bought many items based on their recommendations.
Targeted ads can be great sometimes, too. My friends and I often joke around and shout things like “matching sweatsuit” or “little black dress” into our phones so that we get targeted ads for the exact item we’re looking for.
Not only is Theo Chocolate’s Instagram beautiful to look at, but also full of amazing recipes—increasing customer interaction with their brand and giving people helpful ideas for using their products.
Of course, many customer experiences start from word of mouth. There’s really nothing better than hearing about a positive customer experience from someone you trust. I’ve discovered some great products and subscriptions services thanks to my friends’ recommendations. Brands should keep this in mind when thinking about their customer experience strategy—people talk, and you want what they have to say to be positive about your products and customer service teams.
What I look for in a brand
Having an all-inclusive customer experience means that brands don’t exclude their mission from the shopping journey. The overall aesthetic is something really important to me, too. I strive to find beauty in my life, and that extends to the brands I use and trust. Listed below are a few of the factors I take note of when I discover new products.
Is your packaging interesting and well-designed? What kind of vibe is given off on your social media channels? How you portray your brand to the world is really important among people my age. We want to connect not only with your products but also with your general aesthetic.
Bokksu has beautiful branding that changes with the seasons, making for a fresh and exciting customer experience.
Beautiful & helpful newsletters
Do your emails come with cool graphics and helpful information presented in a beautiful way? Are they sent infrequently enough that I actually have time to read them? Bombarding customers with emails on the daily or even more than once during the week can prove to be way too much communication for Gen Z—we’re absorbing so much content elsewhere. I only check my personal email every few days, and there are few newsletters I actually take the time to read instead of immediately deleting.
Engagement on social media
It’s no secret that my generation spends a lot of time on social media. Though it can often be seen in a negative light, I find a lot of connection and inspiration on social media apps. This expands beyond the friends and strangers I chat with on Instagram to brands that engage with me when I purchase and decide to share their products.
Having an active social media presence is hugely important for connecting with your younger customer base and making them feel seen. You can also collect crucial customer feedback this way, and use social media as a form of customer experience management.
Easy on the environment
It’s clear to my generation that there’s no time to waste when it comes to the climate crisis. We are aware that every small thing adds up and can make a difference in the fight against climate change. That’s why many shoppers in my generation refuse to buy products that are made unethically or that negatively impact the environment. Making your sustainability efforts front and center is important to Gen Z and will go a long way in attracting customers to stick with your customer journey.
One big part of the customer experience is receiving a package. I judge many brands based on how their products arrive on my doorstep. I don’t want anything fancy or excessive—I want to be able to recycle the packaging and not feel wasteful about what I just purchased. Consolidating items into one box or envelope instead of sending multiple items at different times is a big game-changer for the environment too. For my generation, customer expectations are that you care just as much about the earth as we do.
Keap Candles showcases their sustainable practices on their website—helping them win big in customer perceptions among existing and new customers.
Enjoying what I buy
As I mentioned before, the customer experience for me goes beyond the point of purchase. Your customers can actually be some of your best marketing tools if you take care of them and give them the attention they deserve. Here are a few ways that you can extend the customer experience beyond purchase and make sure your customers are satisfied with their products or services.
Social media engagement
With a dedicated social media team, you can really make strides and expand your brand. Gen Z wants to be seen and heard when they share. It takes time to create posts, especially videos and staged photos, so when I do create user-generated content, I love when a brand takes the time to thank me or repost it. It’s a win-win situation: I’m sharing your product with my friends and followers, and you are getting free engagement from my content. Customers interact over social media, so it’s crucial to make a good impression.
Sharing content I love
Beyond reposting or commenting on what I’ve decided to share, I appreciate when brands share content that’s meaningful and aligned with their mission. Whether it’s email newsletters, inspirational Instagram posts, or blogs that help me understand how to use the product in the best way possible, your brand can create longevity in the customer experience using these methods. Customer loyalty also increases when shoppers find value in the content you share with them.
Verve Coffee extends the customer experience through their blog, sharing how-to articles, morning routines, and the inspiration behind each of their blends.
Maximizing customer satisfaction & creating a memorable experience
Customer journeys are crucial for creating customer satisfaction, not to mention boosting brand loyalty and customer retention. A customer’s experience extends beyond just the point of purchase. Attracting customers before they choose to buy your product or service is crucial, as is keeping them around for a long time after their card has been swiped.
Gen Z customers expect beautiful aesthetics, social media engagement, and sustainability efforts from their brands. Creating a positive experience for these younger customers means you have to put in the effort in every part of the customer journey to keep them attracted and committed to your brand.