79 Percent of Consumers Expect Inflation to Impact their Back-To-School Shopping

Shopkick survey finds that 77 percent of consumers plan to take advantage of the sales tax-free weekend(s) in their state to save money on back-to-school shopping

With US inflation being the highest it has been in four decades, consumers are looking for ways to cut costs — especially when it comes to back-to-school shopping. As American families head in-store to stock up on school supplies, 75 percent of consumers say their top priority is getting the best price, with 77 percent planning to utilize sales tax-free periods in their state to shop without the additional financial burden of a sales tax. 

Shopkick, a leading shopping rewards app, surveyed more than 12,500 consumers to uncover how they are planning to shop this back-to-school season.

Key Insights Include:

  • Tightened Budgets: Nearly half (40 percent) of consumers expect to spend less on back-to-school items this year than they did last year with the largest segment of shoppers (39 percent) planning to spend under $100. The majority (61 percent) say they have tightened their budgets because of rising inflation. For those planning to spend more, 28 percent of shoppers say it is because they need to purchase all new school supplies whereas they did not last year. Other consumers say it is because last school year was entirely virtual (26 percent), they did not back-to-school shop last year (21 percent), their budget was tightened due to the pandemic but they are back to regular spending habits (19 percent), they need to make smaller purchases they did not have to last year (17 percent), and they need to make big-ticket purchases they did not need to last year (15 percent).
  • Inflation Impact: Of the consumers that expect inflation to impact their back-to-school shopping, the majority (70 percent) plan to spend less on non-essential purchases as well as hunt for deals and compare prices more than they typically would. Other shoppers are using coupons and rewards apps more (64 percent), making fewer shopping trips (47 percent), and using buy now, pay later more than usual (9 percent).
  • School Supply Savings Tips: The majority of consumers are utilizing different tips and hacks to help save money this back-to-school season, such as using coupons and rewards apps (74 percent), watching prices to wait for sales, deals and discounts (67 percent), shopping at thrift stores for discounted items (33 percent), upcycling old items and materials (24 percent), buying used or hand-me-down school uniforms (11 percent), buying one set of books to share (7 percent), and renting sports, band and club equipment rather than buying it (4 percent).
  • Safety Precautions Remain: Consumers are still planning on purchasing essential items to protect against COVID-19 when back-to-school shopping this year with the majority of shoppers planning to purchase hand sanitizer (64 percent), cleaning wipes (59 percent), paper products (45 percent), masks (38 percent), gloves (17 percent), and disposable cutlery for lunches (16 percent).
  • Shoppers Head In-Store: Similar to last year, nearly all (91 percent) of this year’s back-to-school shoppers plan to make their purchases in physical retailers, a noticeable increase compared to 2020, when 66 percent said they would shop in-store.
  • Wavering Loyalty: Although 55 percent of shoppers are moderately loyal to brands they buy their back-to-school supplies from, 89 percent would be willing to switch to a new brand for their back-to-school needs if they could earn rewards for doing so.
  • Bring on Big Box: Of the 91 percent of consumers who plan to do their back-to-school shopping in-store, the majority (89 percent) plan to do so at Big Box retailers. Other consumers plan to shop at Dollar stores (46 percent), off-price retailers (38 percent) and office supply stores (30 percent). Of the 51 percent of consumers who plan to do their back-to-school shopping online, the majority plan to shop on Amazon (85 percent). Other back-to-school online shoppers plan to use Big Box retailer sites (64 percent), office supply sites (21 percent), and apparel and accessory sites (20 percent).
  • Making Mobile Purchases: Mobile devices will be of great use to consumers this back-to-school season, with 83 percent of Americans saying they will use their mobile devices while shopping, for everything from comparing prices to making mobile purchases.

Sticky CX: How to Design Experiences that Keep Customers Coming Back

Creating ‘sticky’ customer experience (CX) is about more than just brand loyalty – it’s about staying relevant and interesting to customers wherever they are in a buying cycle. In fact, argues Nick Pearse of agency Vertical Leap, the secret to sticky CX is engaging customers when buying intent is lowest: right after purchase.

Customer experience (CX) design acknowledges the importance of interactions between brands and consumers at every stage of the consumer journey. This starts as soon as someone discovers a new brand and culminates with a purchase, but continues long after purchase. Top brands develop sticky customer experiences that compel people to keep buying from them after the initial purchase. This is critical in the age of consumer power.

Why is a sticky CX important?

Sticky CX design aims to convert new customers and maximize the percentage of them who keep buying from you. It’s more expensive to win new customers than convert previous buyers, especially if you provide a quality customer experience. Returning customers spend 67% more on brands they trust.

Customer stickiness is an important measure of the quality of experience you provide across the entire customer cycle (lead capture, lead nurturing, the buying process, product/service quality, the post-purchase experience).

The buying process and post-purchase experiences are particularly important, as we’ll see when we look at the top reasons behind repeat purchases.

By optimizing the entire customer experience, a sticky CX elevates KPIs that drive revenue and growth, including repeat purchases; customer retention, value, lifespan, loyalty and satisfaction; purchase value; positive reviews; brand engagement, citations and reputation – and all the way down to revenue, ROI and growth.

To create a sticky CX, you have to optimize the whole customer experience – before, during and after the purchase – to maintain engagement and motivate customers to remain active in the buying cycle.

Customer stickiness vs customer loyalty

Customer loyalty focuses on the emotional connection between brands and consumers; stickiness places more emphasis on repeat transactional value.

Customers can remain loyal to your brand as long as they don’t buy similar products or services from rival companies, which doesn’t mean they’re necessarily buying from you as often as they could.

Designing a sticky customer experience doesn’t only strive to maximize customer loyalty but also customer value by increasing the frequency of purchases and/or the value of purchases throughout the relationship.

What makes customers buy again?

According to Bread’s 2020 Consumer Shopping Survey, convenience is the top reason shoppers make repeat purchases from an online retailer.

While it’s important to address consumer priorities, CX design encompasses more than the deciding factors consumers face on product pages. Companies need to craft experiences that maximize customer satisfaction, keep them engaged when they’re not buying, and time motivational messages with precision to inspire new purchase impulses.

Frictionless buying (optimizing the buying process for repeat purchases) is important, but you should also keep an eye on other metrics:

• Time-to-value: Deliver value as quickly as possible after each new purchase.

• Maximize value: Help customers get the most out of their most recent purchase.

Lifecycle data: Analyze purchase habits to learn when different customers types are ready and most likely to buy again – and what they’ll buy.

You can also motivate engagement, giving customers a reason to keep visiting your website with temporary deals and rapid product rollouts. It helps to identify VIPs and give repeat customers special status and rewards for repeat purchases. Instant responses are useful here, giving priority support to your best customers.

You can use these efforts to build a community, using customers to drive engagement. It helps to build an emotional connection between customers and the brand. Showcasing loyal customers in social campaigns and putting the spotlight on them is good too.

Then, of course, there are the usual tactics for customer retention, such as cross-selling and upselling. Retention may be a key part of building a sticky CX but you can’t rely on transactional interactions alone – you also have to optimize the gaps between purchases and nurture emotional motivations.

The secret to sticky CX is keeping customers engaged after their most recent purchase, while intent is at its lowest, especially across channels that you can use to build motivation over time.

This article was written by Nick Pearse from The Drum and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

Marrying Consumer Expectations With Values

How to align brand values to today’s consumer expectations was at the center of topics covered at the recent 2022 CEO Summit hosted in New York City by the Jay H. Baker Retailing Center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Retail Leaders Circle. The conference’s theme, “Values + Purpose: Leading the Neo-Renaissance,” offered a fascinating look into how some of the nation’s top brand and retail leaders such as Pfizer’s Sally Sussman and Revlon’s Debra Perelman among others are innovating today in order to remain relevant tomorrow.

Here are my top takeaways:

Gen Z’s influence continues to impact everyone; Sustainability is sticky

Throughout the CEO Conference, every speaker touched upon issues that are being driven by Gen Z, from community building to saving the planet. First Insight’s recent survey in partnership with Wharton reveals that Gen Z is using its collective voice to influence all generations, and that is especially true when it comes to sustainability. Retailers, brands, and manufacturers need to pay close attention because by 2031, Gen Z’s income will surpass that of millennials. Gen Z values sustainability over brand name, will pay more for sustainable products, and is convincing their Gen X parents to do the same.

As retailer and brand CEOs grapple with making sure that their brand continues to resonate with younger consumers, they need to actively listen to these consumers to understand how to improve their efforts on sustainability.

Leveraging the data collected from these conversations is one way that companies can evolve to achieve more purpose driven initiatives, remain inclusive, and meet both employee and consumer expectations.

Safety and Health More Important Than Ever

The pandemic brought to light so many ways we’d been doing business that simply won’t work in the future in the same way – from toxic work environments to overcrowded offices. However, the biggest a-ha moment for many was that employers need to demonstrate their commitment to health and safety to their employees and customers. These new values transcend simply providing a safe or healthy working, shopping, or dining environment. For instance, the best employers now offer resources and assistance for improving the mental and physical health of their employees. Retailers will need to continue to ensure that their customers feel safe shopping in physical retail. They can do this by expanding upon curbside pickup, same day delivery, and easy access to the most popular items. In addition, upgrading physical store locations with better technology can mitigate the exposure to too many people.

Recommerce Is the Next Big Thing

Even Boomers are embracing recommerce or purchases of previously-owned items according to the First Insight Wharton Sustainability report. Boomers are now 56% more likely to engage in recommerce models than they were just two years ago. More than half of those surveyed prefer to shop resale formats for a variety of sustainability reasons. It’s clear that the consumer has become much more complex in a relatively short period of time, and retailers will need to go the extra mile to keep up. For example, First Insight data reveal that among the various sustainable shopping methods, 65% of consumers across all generations prefer brand or retailer-operated recommerce. Yet as third-party resale brands such as ThredUp, The RealReal and Depop continue to develop brand affinity among younger consumers, brands and retailers are giving away the business that they could be generating from new retail formats. Retailers and brands must begin testing and learning with new formats today so that they can retain and attract consumers tomorrow. The best way to start is to listen to your consumers to understand the way they like to shop.

Supply Chain Innovations

One of 2021’s biggest topics and challenges for retailers and consumers alike, supply chain challenges continue to exist. Labor shortages, manufacturing challenges, inflation, and, now, the war in the Ukraine are a few of the factors contributing to challenges for global businesses. The bright side is that the covid pandemic forced manufacturers and brands to take a good hard look at their supply chain and make fundamental changes to improve it. When it wasn’t broken, there was no incentive to fix it. But now that the cracks have turned to fissures, supply chain executives realize that supply chain disruptions are just another cost of doing business. Manufacturers, shippers, and retailers know that the future supply chain must be more sustainable and highly collaborative. Maximizing labor, containers, warehouse space, and last mile within a collective will be more efficient and sustainable in the long run. Digitizing the product creation and buying process will ensure that the products that brands and retailers produce and ship will actually be the ones that their consumers want to buy when they are on the shelves.

In the end, it is clear that we are headed to a more dynamic (meaning … CHANGING) and yes less predictable time ahead. As many noted, one thing is for certain, understanding where people are “moving to” versus where they “have been” will be a new and needed skill set while remaining agile enough to listen, understand and respond.

This article was written by Greg Petro from Forbes and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

 

Takeaways from the Summer Fancy Food Show: Insights, Trends, and Full Stomachs

       The world has yet to stop shifting dramatically. From the pandemic to inflation, retailers and brands alike have had to quickly adjust expectations and strategies, with the risk of being left behind. This was on full display at the Fancy Foods Show put on by the Specialty Foods Association (SFA). From Sunday, June 12 to Tuesday, June 14, the Javits Center in the heart of New York City was packed with vendors, distributors, established and emerging brands, all fighting to stand out from the crowd and breakthrough to the thousands of attendees who perused their booths. By far, the most common strategy brands utilized to differentiate themselves was by promising a healthy product. As David Lockwood, a leading Consumer Market Research and Strategy Consultant, stated in his presentation on the state of the specialty food industry, “what we eat continues to be more important to the average citizen”. This was apparent, as it was nearly impossible to walk down a show aisle and not see multiple booths supporting products that were organically sourced, keto-friendly, and plant-based, along with a number of other health benefits. According to a recent SFA report, in collaboration with SPINS (a wellness-focused data technology company), 2020 saw a 22% growth in specialty plant-based sales performance over 2019, and 2021 saw an additional 4% increase in the category.

            While healthier alternatives shine as the key component of many products, it’s not the only trend that shoppers are favoring. The pandemic may have slowed life down for some, but the world still moves quickly, and consumers are careful with how they spend their time. Convenience continues to grow as a major factor in which products shoppers add to their carts. On the list of the fastest-growing food categories from 2019 to 2021, are refrigerated (ready-to-drink coffees and teas) and frozen (appetizers and snacks) products. The data aligns with consumer sentiment here, as 22% of consumers say they would be motivated to try a new product if it came in a prepared pack, 53% anticipate using convenience foods in the future, and 76% say they are looking for foods that are easy to prepare (Mattucci). Make no mistake, shoppers do not want to sacrifice the quality of the products in their cart, as 67% of US consumers think it’s worth paying more for products of higher quality (Mattucci).

       Where there are positives for brands to latch onto, there are also cautions for them to avoid. It is important for brands to capitalize on trends, but not fall into the trap of fads. A final, but no less important takeaway from the fun and insightful three days of trying new products and hearing from industry leaders; brands and companies can no longer confine themselves to the aisles. As social responsibility has become a priority for many people, consumers look to purchase from brands that reflect their values. Now more than ever, consumers are paying attention to the brands they buy from and the impact those brands have on the world around them. It can be a fine line to walk between the quality, convenience, health, and social responsibility that shoppers are looking for, but those brands that accomplish it will be heavily rewarded. It was an exciting three days in New York City, but more than anything it was great to be back, walking the floor and talking face-to-face with companies from across the world. We hope to see you next year at the Winter Fancy Foods Show!

Mattucci, S. (2021). (rep.). The Future of Pasta, Rice, and Noodles Market Report 2021. Mintel.
Retrieved June 17, 2022, from https://store.mintel.com/report/the-future-of-pasta-rice-noodles-market-research-report 

By: Nick Schramm 

Half of Americans Hide their Sugary Sweets in Secret Stash

Shopkick’s National Candy Month data reveals chocolate is king; Reese’s and M&Ms reign supreme

With National Candy Month coming to a close, it is a perfect time to reflect on the who, what and why of the great candy buys. Shopkick, a leading shopping rewards app, asked America all about their favorite confectionery and found that brand-loyal consumers are purchasing between $5-$10 worth of chocolate a few times a month from their grocery store.

In an online survey of over 15,000 confection-buying consumers, conducted from June 12 – June 16, Shopkick discovered sweet insights into America’s candy preferences. 

Key Insights Include:

  • Loyalty Above All: Even amidst overall wavering brand loyalty, nearly all consumers (90 percent) have pledged allegiance to their favorite candy brands.
  • Sugary Secrets: Turns out, 46 percent of consumers have a secret stash for their sweet treats.
  • Heart Full of Chocolate: Chocolate dominates as the favorite candy category among the majority of consumers (90 percent). Reese’s and M&M’s are tied for consumers’ favorite chocolate candy (57 percent respectively), followed by Hershey’s (48 percent) and Snickers and KitKats (47 percent each).
  • Spread the Love: For the consumers that do not reach for chocolate first, the next most sought category of candy is sweet (66 percent), followed by sour (38 percent), minty (28 percent) and spicy (11 percent).
  • Fan-Favorites: The top pick amongst consumers for sweet candy is Starburst (55 percent) followed closely by Skittles (53 percent). Consumers’ favorite sour candy is Sour Patch Kids (73 percent), their favorite minty candy is York Peppermint Patties (64 percent) and their favorite spicy candy is Hot Tamales (52 percent).
  • The Need for Sweets: While 87 percent of consumers buy candy to satisfy their sweet tooth, some crave it more than others. Other consumers buy candy a few times a month (36 percent), a few times a week (22 percent) and once a week (20 percent).
  • Cost of Confection: When it comes to how much consumers are willing to spend on sweet treats, about half of consumers (47 percent) plan to spend between $5 and $10. Other consumers plan to spend less than $5 (39 percent), between $11 and $20 (12 percent) and between $21 and $50 (2 percent).
  • Shopping For Sugary Goodness: Consumers are eager to fulfill their sugar fix, with the majority shopping in-store to do so. Ninety-three percent of consumers purchase candy at grocery stores, followed by candy and convenience stores (69 percent), events like movies and concerts (14 percent) and online and through subscription services (8 percent).
  • Candy Consumption Whereabouts: The majority of consumers’ favorite place to enjoy their confectionary treats is from the comfort of their own home (89 percent). Other consumers snack on sugar while traveling in cars, airplanes, trains and boats (73 percent) and at the movie theater or drive-in (34 percent).

Inflation is Impacting 72 percent of Americans’ Summer Plans

Even amidst inflation concerns, Shopkick survey finds that 61 percent of consumers still plan to travel this summer

Although consumers are faced with near-record inflation and looming recession concerns, they are still making plans for some fun this summer. Astronomical gas prices are not stopping consumers from hitting the road either as 83 percent of consumers are relying on cars for their summer travel plans, followed by airplanes (41 percent), trains (6 percent), cruises (6 percent) and buses (5 percent).

Key Insights Include:

  • Financial Concerns: Americans everywhere are experiencing serious financial difficulties, so it is not surprising that 59 percent of consumers say cost is a main concern when it comes to making summer travel decisions this year. Other important factors include the types of activities available such as amusement parks, museums and tours (17 percent), travel convenience (13 percent) and distance (7 percent). 
  • COVID Concerns: Additionally, the majority of consumers (73 percent) say COVID concerns are not impacting their travel plans, and neither are environmental concerns (78 percent).
  • Save Up to Fuel Up: For those 83 percent of consumers relying on cars as their mode of transportation, the majority (55 percent) expect to spend between $151 and $500 on gas this summer, while others plan to spend between $51 and $150 (23 percent), $501 and $1000 (15 percent), over $1,000 (5 percent) and less than $50 (3 percent).
  • Summer Spending: When it comes to how much consumers are anticipating spending on travel expenses this summer compared to last, 41 percent plan to spend less overall, 37 percent plan to spend more and 22 percent plan to spend the same amount.
  • Consumer Compromises: The majority of consumers who plan to spend less on vacation this summer are compromising on food and drink (60 percent), lodging and accommodations (56 percent), experiences (56 percent), souvenirs (55 percent), and transportation (32 percent). Those who plan to spend more are allotting a bigger budget for transportation (78 percent), food and drink (65 percent), lodging and accommodations (57 percent ), experiences (39 percent), and souvenirs (16 percent).
  • Summer Savings Plan: Of those consumers spending less, they plan to utilize coupons and rewards apps to help afford summer travel expenses (45 percent), travel closer to home (42 percent) and book discounted accommodations (28 percent). Other consumers plan to hold or stop traveling altogether until inflation prices decrease or COVID cases decline (54 percent ) and change their mode of transportation to save money on gas (18 percent).

“After two summers stuck at home, people are eager to take their postponed trips, see long-distance relatives, and go on vacation, but inflation is creating significant financial challenges for Americans,” said Brittany Billings, EVP, strategic markets & marketing at Shopkick. “Our data shows that inflation is not stopping consumers from traveling, but forcing them to be strategic about budgeting and cautious with overall spending. During the summer months, retailers should be prepared with products that consumers actually need, such as groceries and household essentials, or items that have longevity with greater perceived value versus single-use. Consumers should  keep an eye out for retailers leveraging steep discounts and promotions as a result of excess inventory.” 

2022 Summer Fancy Foods Show: What We Expect

On Sunday, June 12th, the Specialty Food Association’s Fancy Food Show kicks off, and Shopkick is excited to join the industry’s top emerging and leading brands from the first session to the last on Tuesday, June 14th.  

Dedicated exclusively to specialty foods and beverages, the Fancy Foods Show is the industry’s largest show in the United States, with over 10,000 participants at its Winter 2022 conference in Las Vegas and expecting over double for the Summer session. While we are undoubtedly looking forward to hearing about (and hopefully tasting) the latest innovations in the space, Shopkick is especially interested in the trends and insights that the “thousands of dollars worth of category data and analysis” can offer (SFA, n.d.).   

After generating over 26.6 million in-aisle engagements and 1.86 million purchases in the Food and Beverage category in 2021, Shopkick is enthusiastic about increasing these numbers in 2022 and beyond by keeping current with the direction of the industry. Coupling the forward-thinking knowledge we will gain from the Fancy Foods Show along with our first-party research, we’re confident in the innovation Shopkick can drive both for our current partners, future partners, and our users. 

While at the show, we’ll have our eye on innovations in the health and wellness spaces, as our research shows that consumers are increasingly concerned with what they put in their bodies and how it affects them and the world around them. Shopkick’s users are making an effort to include plant-based products in their shopping carts, with 49% doing so at least once every few grocery trips citing general health benefits, the fact that they feel better, and weight loss, as the three main reasons behind doing so. Shoppers are not just basing their cart decisions on what’s in the product, but also on what’s around it. Over 59% of surveyed users are more likely to purchase a brand with sustainable packaging than one without, 38% going as far as to say they would pay more for a product if it was sustainably packaged. Brands need to be ready to align their values with those of the consumer, and we’re excited to learn how the leading brands are doing so. 

There is no telling what innovations will come from this event, but we know whatever they will be, they’ll have a distinct and veritable impact on the food and beverage industry. Shopkick will be there for every moment, and if you’d like to discuss the industry, trends, or how Shopkick can help your brand awareness, you can schedule a meeting with us here or contact us. If you can’t join us there, be sure to keep an eye out for a follow-up article on what we learned as a result of hearing from and speaking to those that are at the forefront of the industry! 

By: Nick Schramm 

Specialty Food Association. (n.d.). Reasons to attend the summer fancy food show. Specialty Food Association. Retrieved June 10, 2022, from https://www.specialtyfood.com/shows-events/summer-fancy-food-show/attend/reasons-attend/

The Blurring Sweets & Snacks Category: Creating Experiences with Indulgence and Function

It isn’t news that the world shifted dramatically because of the pandemic. Most of the conversations have been around tangible scenarios – i.e., where we live, where we work, and where we shop. These changes have brought tectonic shifts that grab the headlines in real estate market shifts, The Great Resignation, and the management battles of hybrid vs. office.  

The next phase of the impact of these shifts on the consumer product goods / fast-moving consumer goods (CPG and FMCG) industry will determine the leaders and laggards in the hearts and minds of consumers and shoppers. The start of these shifts was on full display at the 25th Annual Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago before Memorial Day. 

One overarching trend that was evident was how the industry has moved towards crucial areas such as sustainability, food sensitivities, and organic production – due to the shift towards brand purpose and consumer trends towards healthier options.  

One other critical area that manufacturers demonstrated was based on consumer insights intersected with meeting the shopper needs of portion/calorie control, portability, and the collision of flavors – in sweet & salty, sweet & spicy, and tons of licensed products to expand flavor profiles across products.

Some other observations across the show floor included: 

Shark Tank Effect:

It seems as if there are more and more food products featured each week on the Shark Tank, and that’s evident through seeing previous founders and their products on display.  It wouldn’t be surprising to see a “Shark Tank” section at future events! 

Selective Indulgence Meets Choiceful Health:

Manufacturers were not shy about providing more and more indulgent options – but only when married with single-serve, individually wrapped and other easy to snack yet made to not overindulge packaging.

Founder and Product Stories:

In addition to the trend toward purpose-driven brands, the industry was eager to put their story on display. In many cases, the story of the founder and their inspiration and life stories while larger manufacturers shared key insights around the shopping experience and the need for added value, the shopping experience, and the value/deal impacting the perceived quality. 

One consistent driver of these product and category trends that was evident was that the breakthrough products and differentiators for success at the shelf were going to be made through value and experiences.  Shoppers want their products and retailers to provide value and be mindful about what truly denotes value – aligning with core values, additional value beyond couponing, and having fun along their customer journey. Consumers and shoppers want social and fun – and want to feel like they are part of a community.  Sometimes that community is exhibited via social and sustainable values, and sometimes it is in the form of how they attain added value within their purchases. The industry also shows that consumers will find value in an explosion of flavors and gravitate towards products that lead the charge across the themes that were on display. Brands need to differentiate now more than ever – and get the shopper to try their new products, invest in them and understand their defined value. 

By: Paul Robinson 

As one of the leading engagement opportunities for brands, products, and retailers, Shopkick users echo this need.  If you would like to understand how your brand can create value without eroding your margin, read our success stories and contact Shopkick

3 things brands need to know about Gen Z’s CX expectations

Don’t look now, but Gen Zers are graduating college. They’re starting salaried jobs. And they’ve got money to spend. 

But there’s mounting evidence that companies across industries aren’t ready for these digital natives (those born late 90s and after). 

According to the latest Broadridge CX and Communications Insights survey, which polled 3,025 consumers in North America, two-thirds (66%) of Gen Zers say that most of the companies they do business with need to improve their CX. 

While CX expectations are high, there’s significant upside for companies that deliver. Recent estimates indicate there are around 68 million Gen Zers in the United States, the oldest of whom are 24, and 74% of them say they would spend more money with a company that provides a good customer experience. Capture this audience now and you’ve got a long runway ahead. 

The key to a creating a better CX for Gen Zers? Personalization and customization: 77% of Gen Z believe it’s important for businesses to customize interactions, while 76% are looking for companies to send them digital communications they can customize based on their preferences.

Personalization involves delivering information and content that matches customer expectations based on their specific point in the customer lifecycle. That means accounting for prior interactions with your company, then anticipating what they want to do next. Customization, meanwhile, is about offering a configurable experience that lets customers take a greater role in deciding how to access information, where and when. 

To execute both effectively, you need the infrastructure to create and deploy digital interactions across relevant touchpoints. As you strategize ways to deliver for Gen Zers, here are three capabilities you should consider investing in. 

1. QR codes are back

If this year’s Super Bowl commercial from Coinbase is any indication, QR codes are back – and for good reason. The ad simply contained music and a QR code bouncing around on a black screen, yet more than 20 million people scanned it, causing the Coinbase website to crash. 

The value that QR codes bring to customer communications has not gone unnoticed: 78% of Gen Zers say they expect to see QR codes on printed communications. 

QR codes give customers the option to easily move from printed communications to a mobile environment where they can take action or engage with a more customizable digital experience. 

Why do QR codes work? Well, it turns out that, despite the general trend toward digital, 90% of Gen Z still values getting some physical mail communications from the companies they do business with. So there’s opportunity to deliver engaging digital experiences, even while paper communications persist. 

2. Predictive analytics and preference management

Nearly half of all Gen Z respondents said they’d be willing to share personal information to enhance the customer experience. That’s promising because true personalization in marketing requires both data and the capability to easily access and employ that data to inform your next customer interaction. 

To that end, it’s advantageous to invest in predictive analytics and preference management. Available platforms enable marketing teams to automate omni channel communications based on customer behavior, delivery preferences and expressed interests (measured by various metrics including clicks, dwell time, account data, past purchases, etc.). 

By aggregating and analyzing all existing customer data, predictive analytics will help make informed decisions about what this generation – across a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences – needs or wants next. Along

with a deeper understanding of their individual preferences, you can establish next-best-action logic to automatically trigger the appropriate communication. 

Whether you aim to cross sell, increase engagement, boost loyalty or make an account stickier, the key – as always – is to nail timing and relevance. An analytics engine tied to your communications platform can help make it happen. 

3. Customizable digital documents

With Gen Z moving to mobile to pay bills and interact with companies more than any other generation, ensuring digital documents are customizable and tailored is imperative. When it comes to bills, statements, and other transactional communications, it’s important to think beyond static PDFs. Static PDFs are limited for several reasons. First, they don’t render well on mobile screens. Second, you can’t interact with them. Customers are forced to stay passive consumers of generic information. 

This generation wants to see interactive bills and statements, providing them with the ability to choose which information to hide, view and further explore. This also means providing easy access to customer support should they need it. 

Importantly, it’s not just Gen Zers who want this. In fact, 67% of all survey respondents said they’d like to see companies implement digital interactive documents with customizable sections. 

Although some companies have been able to wow Gen Zers with innovative experiences, the majority continue to offer experiences designed more than a decade ago. The need to innovate is imminent. Many organizations still rely on complex legacy systems for creating and managing communications, which limits their ability to customize and personalize the experience. 

The good news is that there are communications platforms designed to make it easier than ever to catch up. Gen Zers are moving quicker than many companies. Organizations that don’t invest in the latest technologies risk missing out on understanding and capturing this critical group of digital natives in years to come. 

Matt Swain is managing director for Broadridge Communications and CX Consulting. 

This article was written by Matt Swain from The Drum and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

Expectations for Sweets & Snacks Expo

Next week, Trax and Shopkick are attending the Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago – one of the tastiest sounding events of the year orchestrated by the National Confectioners Association. We are eagerly looking forward to the learning and networking opportunities that were so greatly missed during the COVID era.  

In addition to the free samples (and unneeded calories) we are anticipating, we are looking forward to the continued innovation and resilience of our industry as an economic engine for the economy. The industry has seen huge trends and innovations over the past couple of years with gamified experiences, physical to digital presence, augmented reality, and more, and there is no sign of slowing down. All the while, Shopkick has been keeping its eye on the prize for how we integrate meaningful shopper insights into these products and industry innovations. 

One area to call out that we’ve seen incredible shopper opportunities in is plant-based products – driven by health-based benefits. As part of the first-party research Shopkick’s platform enables, 78% of shoppers responded they were motivated to purchase plant-based alternatives due to the general health benefits, while 31% specifically called out that they feel better when they eat plant-based products. Additionally, 27% used these products specifically to lose weight. Based upon these insights, we expect to see this specific industry bringing new products to market that mirror these findings. 

Of course, in addition to the health and wellness side, the packaging also matters when it comes to how consumers shop for products. Our users reported that they are 59% more likely to purchase a brand with sustainable packaging than one without, and 38% would be willing to pay more for products with sustainable packaging. And in an even more incredible story, packaging drives shopper loyalty. Our data shows that 42% have switched brands over packaging sustainability. That’s why aligning to the consumers’ values can mean the difference between attracting and retaining a customer’s loyalty and being left in the dust.  

 No matter what new innovations and trends will be showcased at Sweets and Snacks Expo, we are excited about attending a well-organized and well-attended event next week. In addition to the expo, we will also be hosting a Happy Hour on 5/25 from 4:30 – 6:30 pm CT, at VU Rooftop. Please join us by RSVPing using the link below. We would love to meet up, learn about your challenges and objectives and discuss the industry and what the future holds. If you can’t make the event, look for a follow-up article on what we learn as a result of speaking with some of the smartest and most innovative people in the industry. Until then, we hope all your days are sweet! 

RSVP link: https://info.traxretail.com/-rsvp  

By: Paul Robinson 

Shopkick, a Trax company, is a leading shopping rewards app, bringing moments of joy to everyday shopping – both on- and off-line. For brands and retailers, Shopkick provides high consumer engagement along the entire path to purchase. The company’s unique pay-for-performance model has been proven to deliver high ROI while driving incremental traffic, product engagement, and sales. Shopkick is proud to work with Coca-Cola, Morinaga Nutritional Foods, Sambazon, Endangered Species, Godiva, and many other leading brands and retailers. We look forward to cultivating new relationships at Sweets & Snacks.