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5 ways Gen Z will force brands to change

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By RACHEL THOMPSON, insights director at GfK South Africa

We’re seeing the needs, expectations and behaviours of young South African consumers evolve at a pace that threatens to leave brands behind. As centennials – or Generation Z – move into the workforce and become the next wave of consumers, brands will need to rethink many of their assumptions about what customers want.

GfK data – including Consumer Life* and FutureBuy** data and insights – paints a picture of deepening disruption as a digital-native generation puts its stamp in the world.

Here are five consumer needs we see emerging as digital technology and platforms reshape the consumer landscape:

  • Instant everywhere

What do today’s consumers want? Everything! When do they want it? Now!

We’re living in an always-on world, where consumers expect on-demand access to products and services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Among South African consumers, 62% want the shops to be open at all times. A third are willing to purchase an inferior product or service if it is available when they want it – a number that rises to 42% among Generation Z. And, one of the primary meanings of innovation for these consumers is “a faster way of doing something”.

Everything from media to transport to food is becoming an on-demand service. For an example of this trend, just look at how on-demand video streaming has changed the game. No longer do we want to wait for broadcaster to roll out a television series in weekly episodes – we’d prefer it to drop the entire season in one go so that we can binge-watch over the weekend. And the idea of booking a taxi to the airport seems quaint when you can hail a ride from your smartphone at any time and it will be there to pick you up within five to 10 minutes.

  • Knowledge is power

Some 87% of Generation Z consumers rate knowledge – whether it comes from a price comparison site or their university studies – as their number 1 value. Generation Z is South Africa’s most educated generation yet, with a higher proportion having the opportunity for tertiary education than earlier generations. Plus, ubiquitous mobile connectivity has empowered them with instant access to information from a device they can hold in their hands. Some 73% of Generation Z respondents in our research are studying and 84% compare prices online before buying. Not only do they like acquiring knowledge, they also value sharing their insights, and opinions with friends and family via social channels.

  • Maximising experiences

Today’s consumer increasingly cares more about the ride than the car. More than half (55%) of Generation Z respondents say experiences are more important than possessions, and 72% value enjoying life as a priority. Ownership of many commodities is already just about extinct – rather than buying software, CDs, or DVDs, for example, we subscribe to music streaming, video streaming and cloud software services. Even personal transport is becoming an on-demand service. Brands that focus on selling products need to be thinking about how they can turn them into delightful experiences.

  • Me-centricity

Our research shows that personalisation continues to grow in importance as consumers ask where a product can add more tangible value to their lives. Generations Y and Z want products and services to be tailored to their personal quirks. They want to be able to make products more relevant to their personal lives – if brands don’t offer personalised offerings, these consumers will either try to configure the offerings to their own needs or look to another provider. Around 60% of Generation Y respondents – and 58% of the total South African respondent base – like to buy products tailored to their needs. Nearly two thirds of Generation Y like technology that makes personalised recommendations and 25% value automated products because they allow for personalisation.

  • Rise of ‘hometainment’

Given South Africa‘s safety concerns, consumers are staying at home more, where they recognise that they have access to a wider range of personalised and premium entertainment choices.

Protecting the family is the top value for South African consumers and 74% say they are always concerned about their safety. Three quarters say that they enjoy spending time at home – the reasons for this include safety and the ability to make sophisticated entertainment choices. Between video and music streaming services, the proliferation of food delivery services, and more ecommerce options, this trend is likely to grow.

Closing words

To meet these emerging needs, brands will need to pivot towards digital channels and become more data-driven in how they interact with consumers. Not only should they seek to deliver personalised services, they should understand consumers’ needs in context so they can address them with the right offering for the right moment. Brands that ignore this trend risk falling behind the curve.

*GfK Consumer Life is a global data and insight service that provides a view on how consumers’ everyday lives are evolving. It provides access to what people think, and what people do on a global, regional, local or micro level.

**GfK FutureBuy is a global syndicated study providing insight about how shopping is evolving across FMCG, Tech and Durables and other categories, in 35 countries across the globe, including South Africa.

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Car buyers to start abandoning fuel-power by 2025

Car buyers in the United States and Europe expect electric vehicles to become a viable alternative to fuel-powered cars in the next five years.

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A new report outlining consumer expectations of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and their viability as replacements for traditional fuel-powered cars or internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles suggests a massive shift beginning in 2025.

The conclusion emerges from a report by human behaviour and analytics firm Escalent, entitled The Future of BEV: How to Capture the Hearts and Minds of Consumers. It reveals the intent of many consumers in the United States and Europe to abandon ICE vehicles altogether, citing the improved infrastructure and range of BEVs.

The Future of BEV gives auto and mobility manufacturers a strategic view of the benefits of their products in the eyes of consumers and highlights the areas of opportunity for automakers to push the innovation boundaries of BEVs to spur broad adoption of the technology.

“While most buyers don’t plan to choose BEVs over gasoline-powered cars within the next five years, consumers have told us there is a clear intention to take BEVs seriously in the five years that follow,” says Mark Carpenter, joint managing director of Escalent’s UK office. “However, manufacturers will need to tap into the emotional value of BEVs rather than just the rational and functional aspects to seize on that intent and inspire broader consumer adoption.”

The study demonstrates a significant shift in consumers’ expectations that BEVs will become viable alternatives to—and competitors with—ICE vehicles over the coming decade. Though 70% of Americans plan to buy a gasoline-powered car within the next year, just 37% expect to make that same purchase in five to ten years. Similarly, while 50% of European consumers favour buying vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel in the near-term, that figure drops to just 23% in five to ten years.

At the same time, consumers on both sides of the Atlantic see BEV adoption rising to 36% in Europe and 16% in the US, with respondents also indicating intent to purchase hybrids and hydrogen-powered cars.

Infrastructure clearly continues to be one of the biggest barriers to adoption. While some work is being done in Europe as well as in the US, the data show there is a significant need for some players to take ownership if manufacturers want to move the needle on BEV adoption.

US and European consumers have stark differences in opinion as to which entities they believe are primarily responsible for providing BEV charging stations. American consumers consider carmakers (45%) the primary party responsible, followed by fuel companies, local government/transport authorities, and the national government in fourth. On the other hand, European consumers view the national government (29%) as the primary party responsible for providing BEV infrastructure, followed by carmakers, local government/transport authorities and fuel companies.

For a full copy of the report, visit https://landing.escalent.co/download-the-future-of-bev.

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New cell phone to help with dementia and memory loss

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A new cell phone that takes simplicity to the extreme is designed to address the unique needs of people with dementia and other forms of memory loss. The RAZ Memory Cell Phone, developed by RAZ Mobility, a provider of mobile assistive technology, was launched this week. The handset is also well-suited for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately 5.8 million Americans have Alzheimer’s dementia, with one in ten people over the age of 65 diagnosed with the disease. The number of people with dementia is expected to increase rapidly as the proportion of the population 65 and older increases. The American Psychiatric Association reports that approximately one percent of the population has an intellectual disability.

The RAZ Memory Cell Phone consists of one primary screen, and one screen only. It is always on and includes pictures and names of up to six contacts and a button to call 911. That’s it! There are no applications or settings to cause confusion. No notifications or operating system updates. No distractions. Users can simply tap and hold the picture of the person they wish to call.

Caregivers manage the RAZ Memory Cell Phone through a simple online portal. The portal is used to create and edit the contacts, track the location of the phone/user and select certain options, such as the option to restrict incoming calls to people in the user’s contacts, thereby avoiding unwanted calls such as predatory robocalls.

The RAZ Memory Cell Phone can now be ordered at https://www.razmobility.com/solutions/memory-cellphone/.

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