Brand loyalty at risk as Gen Z less tolerant of poor digital experiences during pandemic

Apr 20, 2021 | Content marketing, Online advertising

Brand loyalty at risk as Gen Z less tolerant of poor digital experiences during pandemic
Whilst the UK’s shops are busy reopening their doors this week, there is some risk of Gen Z shunning real-world shopping altogether, according to digital experience provider Sitecore.

New research by Sitecore reveals that Gen Z shoppers have become more impatient and less loyal as a year of online-only shopping has raised the bar of digital experiences among 18-to-24-year-olds.

Key stats from the research include:
• 61% of 18- to 24-year-olds are less loyal to brands than before the pandemic, compared to 33% of Boomers
• 69% of Gen Z has less patience with slow or poor-functioning websites than before the pandemic
• 66% of young people don’t miss real world shopping as much as they thought they would, compared to 43% of Boomers
• 44% of Boomers say they haven’t had a poor experience online in the last year, compared to just 14% of Gen Z.

Sitecore’s survey of over 1000 young people aged 18-24, and a total of over 2000 UK consumers, conducted by global research specialists Advanis, reveals that 61% of Gen Z say they are now less loyal to the brands they usually shop at, compared to 33% of Boomers (aged 55+). A further 69% of Gen Z believe they’ve become less patient with poor online experiences since the pandemic.

The results reveal Gen Z as the toughest generation of online customers to please, with older shoppers generally more forgiving:

● 18 to 34 year olds are the most likely to have posted a negative review in the last 12 months.
● Gen Z shoppers are twice as likely to say they experienced poor customer service as Baby Boomers.
● 44% of Boomers say they haven’t had a poor experience online in the last year, compared to only 14% of Gen Z.
● 72% of Gen Z expect a highly personalised experience from online retailers, compared to 39% of Boomers.
● 43% of Gen Z say they experienced late or slow delivery, compared to 28% of those over 24.

Amidst the anticipation of the UK’s shops reopening their doors this week, there is some risk of Gen Z shunning real-world shopping altogether; they are much more likely to describe themselves as digital converts who want to keep buying everything online since the pandemic (63% compared to 48% of other generations). Similarly, 66% don’t miss real world shopping as much as they thought they would, compared to 43% of Boomers. Along with Millennials (aged 25 to 34), they are the most likely to say they now find online shopping more enjoyable than in-person shopping; 63% of Gen Z, compared to 29% of Baby Boomers stated this.

As Gen Z now accounts for approximately 40% of consumers globally[1], the pressure is increasing for brands to win over this influential customer base and meet their expectations for personalisation, rewards for loyalty and inspirational digital experiences.

Paige O’Neill, chief marketing officer, Sitecore, comments on the findings, “Even though the world is now returning to physical shopping experiences, the habits and expectations that lockdowns have established in consumers’ digital preferences are here to stay. If brands are to win over Gen Z, who represent the future of their customer base, they must create personalised digital experiences to cut through the competition. If they don’t impress fast, they risk being “cancelled” and losing loyalty overnight.”

About the research
Advanis conducted a survey among 2235 UK consumers, including 1000 consumers aged 18-24. The research was commissioned by Sitecore, reflecting on COVID-19 impacts and priorities going forward. The study was conducted March 31 – April 7, 2021.

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