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What will the customer of 2030 expect from your brand?
August 2, 2022
By James Stokes (country manager UK & Ireland, Infobip).
In 2010 the Linguistic Society of America voted ‘app’ as its ‘Word of the Year’ – the same year that marked the start of Generation Alpha. This was also the year that saw the launch of the iPad, and as described in recent research from the University of Sydney, these technological innovations have had a profound impact: "Generation Alpha is quite different from the preceding generations, especially because their reality, and all aspects of life, has been dominated by technology."
Today’s children have grown up in a world of instant and on-demand technology, with information, influencers and entertainment just a touch away. How they learn, interact, and communicate is fundamentally different to any previous generation. For businesses this means Generation Alpha is a catalyst for change.
Meeting new expectations means accelerating digitalization, and placing new standards of customer experience at the heart of transformation. To serve the customer of the future this transformation must start now. Here we reflect on our latest research, exploring the habits and expectations of Gen Alpha to uncover how organizations can build the digital foundations they need now, and in the future.
True digital natives
Uncovering Generation Alpha’s relationship with technology, Infobip and YouGov conducted online research across the UK and France, which revealed that today’s children might be more comfortable interacting with technology than humans. They are accustomed to using smart devices from an early age; between the ages of 6 and 11, more than three quarters (77%) have access to a tablet, and more than half (59%) have access to a smartphone.
What’s more, three fifths (60%) of those who have an iPad or tablet used one by their fifth birthday, and almost two fifths (38%) of those with a smartphone used it by the same age.
This early adaptation to smart technology feeds into the way they communicate through digital channels. By 11 years old, three-quarters (73%) of UK Generation Alpha is using WhatsApp on their smartphone or tablet.
It’s not just communication that has been digitalized. Generation Alpha also relies on smart devices as a source of information. Almost two-fifths (39%) who use a smart device do so to complete schoolwork, and nearly a third (30%) have used a smart device to answer a question or help them, rather than asking their parent or guardian.
Meet Generation Alpha: the customer of 2030
By 2030, the first members of Generation Alpha will be adults and begin to have direct interactions with businesses. As customers, they are likely to have high expectations when it comes to frictionless experiences and instant gratification. They will expect proactive communications that respond to their needs in real time.
Personalization will play a huge role too. Generation Alpha will expect to be treated as individuals with their own interests and values. Communications will need to be relevant, derived from insights. For example, if they enjoy browsing shoes on their mobile phone, they’ll expect offers to be sent via email, SMS or WhatsApp with relevant product suggestions and promotions. Businesses should leverage customer data relating to behavior and sentiment to tailor messaging, content type, and timing.
A platform for change
The secret to great customer journeys is providing all the options and letting the customer choose. With the right platform, businesses can cater to customer needs, irrespective of the channel in question – and if those needs change, all you need to do is change the rules. For clear visibility of relevant information and previous communications, all customer experiences across all channels need to be managed within a single platform. A unified view of communications also allows for an approach that is truly integrated, as opposed to simply ‘multi-channel’ in its scope, and allows for the adoption of new technologies.
AI chatbots, for example, will be vital tools for more flexible interactions. Most members of Generation Alpha will not have the same reservations about AI-powered interactions as today’s customer and will value the personalization, consistency, and proactivity that such solutions provide.
We all know that without data, it’s impossible to deliver intelligent, seamless customer journeys. But to achieve this, data needs to be connected and made available across all verticals and technologies, as well as being embedded properly in customer journeys.
With the right customer data management platform and infrastructure, businesses can use predictive analytics to inform communications with customers and forecast likely behaviors. This could be anything from the buying or engagement patterns of similar customers to factors such as the weather, which could indicate how likely a customer is to purchase a product. The more quality data that algorithms have, the better their predictions, and with machine learning they will improve over time.
Change is constant
We started by reflecting on Generation Alpha’s introduction to the world, where ‘app’ and iPad became synonymous with their experience of the world, setting new expectations. Last year Collins Dictionary named ‘NFT’ ('non-fungible token') its word of the year, signaling yet again that new technologies now determine the zeitgeist and that successive generations will continue to be shaped by the digital landscape.
Keeping on top of these new developments may seem daunting, but what businesses now have at hand like never before is data. Harnessing data to understand your customer and gain actionable insight is the only strategy that can ensure change is embraced as a transformative opportunity, rather than feared as an ever-present obstacle.
Read the full Customer of 2030 report here.