Gen Z Consumers are Most Difficult Generation to Please

Youngest consumers are most likely to be upset by customer service, and most likely to make purchasing decisions based on values and COVID safety measures

Members of Gen Z, the youngest generation of consumers, are the most likely to be upset by a recent interaction with a company or organization, and are the least likely to recommend a brand, according to new research from Qualtrics (Nasdaq: XM) XM Institute.

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“Gen Z has a high bar for speed and gratification, and right now it’s clear that most companies aren’t reaching it”

Qualtrics asked 9,000 consumers to rate how they felt after a recent interaction with a brand or organization (on a scale of upset to delighted). Across all age groups, Gen Z adults (ages 18-24) gave the lowest scores to every industry in the analysis. Gen Z was the most upset by their interactions with federal agencies (only 13% gave a positive rating), followed by investment firms and airlines. Gen Z gave the highest ratings to social media and retail stores.

Meanwhile, Gen Z’s grandparents (Baby Boomers ages 65+) were the most likely – of all generations – to feel delighted by their interactions with companies. Baby Boomers were also the most likely to say they would promote or recommend a brand to friends and family.

Gen Z, a larger generation than the Millennials that precede them, is an emerging force of trendsetting consumers who influence the purchasing behaviors of older generations. Gen Z adults are twice as likely as Baby Boomers to stop purchasing from a brand because of insufficient COVID safety measures (30% vs. 14%), but they are three times (42% vs. 14%) as likely as their grandparents to start purchasing from a brand with COVID safety measures, like mask requirements or curbside pick-up.

Gen Z is also more likely to be familiar with the brand values of the products they buy and are more likely to say the brands they purchase from are doing enough to address societal and environmental issues (31% vs. 17%).

“Gen Z has a high bar for speed and gratification, and right now it’s clear that most companies aren’t reaching it,” said Bruce Temkin, head of Qualtrics XM Institute. “These savvy consumers are accustomed to instant service, and they will hold companies accountable for their values and service quality, even amid a global pandemic. To win in 2022, organizations need to better understand and cater to the needs of these younger consumers, even as those needs shift during different stages of the pandemic.”

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