Which Tech Will Capture Gen Z's Spend?

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Which Tech Will Capture Gen Z's Spend?
May 26, 2018

Mobile prodigies are on the cutting edge of digital technology, but that doesn’t mean that every new emerging interface will capture their attention or spend.

 

For advertisers, it’s critical to understand what these millennials and Gen Z consumers, ages 14–29, want when it comes to shopping in new, digital ways. From voice assistants to VR, they’re looking for choices that provide personalized experiences. That being said, the newest technology works for them to varying degrees depending on age, environment and even family roles.

 

To capture some of this group's anticipated $350 billion in buying power — analysts expect this amount will come into play between 2018 and 2020 — brands are going to need data. And so, in working with YPulse, which focuses on millennial and Gen Z research, we commissioned a 1,000-respondent poll of consumers in these two demographics, the mobile prodigies. As these technologies become key to discovering, exploring and buying online, smart advertisers will keep up with the experiences that mobile prodigies want next.

 

Alexa, Add To Cart

Sixty-seven percent of the respondents are interested in discovering, exploring and buying new products with the help of emerging interfaces such as voice-based virtual assistants and virtual reality. In fact, voice assistants led the list of technologies: 58% cited it as a draw overall and 33% said they were specifically interested in home-based shopping experiences using voice. Meanwhile, 25% said in-automobile voice technology would be their preferred approach to consumer engagements.

 

More Meaningful In-Store Moments

In-store shopping is also an evolving reality for mobile prodigies: more than one-quarter of the respondents (26%) said smart interactive kiosks at physical stores would be an appealing avenue for product discovery and purchase.

 

It's an approach that airports, for example, are already implementing — connecting travelers with nearby restaurants throughout the terminal, encouraging menu discovery, food selection and then delivery from the chosen business. However, consumers also said these kiosks must offer personalized interactions. When in place, data-sharing possibilities — scanning or entering a flight number, in our airport example — then allow for that personalization by generating relevant flight and gate alerts during the meal.

 

As another example, in stores, as RetailWire reports, Walmart has added interactive kiosks at some locations. Consumers answer questions about the purpose of their visit and are guided by tightly aligned options as their answers unfold. 

 

AR Versus VR

Virtual reality and augmented reality were neck-and-neck in the poll: 25% of mobile prodigies were looking for product discovery and purchase possibilities from VR, and 23% put AR on their wish list for digital shopping. Furthermore, among those that want AR, millennials led Gen Z by eight percentage points.

 

As for applications, both experiences are evolving. Possibilities in the VR space include product placements (as we see in other visual storytelling formats, such as movies). Regarding AR experiences, Kris Kolo, executive director of the AR/VR Association, wrote in an article that he envisions in-store AR hosts that may soon inspire, direct and help customers make new discoveries and purchases with the help of their mobile devices. That's one future application.

 

In the present, IKEA is already prompting purchases with its AR in-home/in-office furniture tryout app. This creates conversion opportunities for consumers, allowing them to add augmented reality versions of items to their own living room on their mobile device screens.

 

Prodigy Parents

Being a parent makes a difference when it comes to adopting new tech. While more than half of the mobile prodigies we polled said voice assistants were an interesting approach to shopping, among those identifying as parents, some 77% said in-home and in-car voice-based shopping options were what they want. Also among parents, interest levels showed up in other ways: 55% of mothers see home- and car-based voice tech as compelling, for example, while 95% of dads are looking for ways to shop via voice in those environments.

 

Common As Smartphones: How Emerging Interfaces Succeed

The points above address mainly what mobile prodigies want from emerging interfaces. There are also instances in our poll that address technologies in which these younger consumers are not as actively interested.

 

First, note that one-third of the respondents replied that they don’t plan to shop with any of the emerging interfaces we asked about — voice, AR, VR and the like. Second, less than one-quarter expressed interest in augmented reality. That’s lowest on the list.

 

That being said, there’s always room for innovation, and the last-place position of AR in our poll may have a lot to do with the immediacy of other marketplace deployments — voice leads in a category rich with new hardware that consumers can actually buy. AR (and VR) are conference-showroom darlings, but there hasn’t been a significant new product to acquire and experience in years. Key to this, perhaps, is what one respondent told us in the qualitative part of the survey: the difference between interest and adoption boils down to “just being able to try something, hands-on.”

 

For brands and marketers, this is a through-line. Emerging tech will come, some of it will stay and some of it will go, but the creative that reaches mobile prodigies thrives on devices that are commonly available. This is why the smartphone is still king in the digital shopping experience. The emerging tech that achieves dominance will similarly echo the smartphone’s ubiquity.

 

Only when it is everywhere — or almost everywhere — can new consumer-facing technology achieve seamless relationships with users on a path to purchase. Only then does it become part of everything they do, creating meaningful engagements in new ways for mobile prodigies.

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