All of us in business are observing rapid change in the way in which we service our customers,clients, patients, members, users – whatever we call them, in our respective businesses or industries. There are some very fundamental trends emerging in the “needs” of particularage groups.
Before looking at these emerging trends, let’s just recap on our age group classifications:
Baby Boomers - Born between 1946 and 1964 and now aged between 57 and 75;
Gen Xers - Born between 1965 and 1980 and now aged between 41 and 56;
Gen Y (Millennials) - Born between 1981 and 1996 and now aged between 25 and 40;
Gen Z - Born between 1997 and 2015 and now aged between 6 and 24.
The way the members of these different “generations” obtain, analyse, use and disseminate information differs widely. Generalising a little, but Baby Boomers tend to be more reassured by communications in writing (including email), the wisdom of their experience and the opinions of experts.
The millennials on the other hand - quick facts, internet research and online reviews are the ways they form opinions and make decisions.
For Gen Z - it’s a lot about social media “influencers”.
And they all have different views and expectations. Product and service requirements are changing quickly and forever!
What our consumers and stakeholders want in 2021 and beyond
A fit for purpose product or service, with lots of features and an appropriate price tag are a given. It must be easily accessible, immediately available and delivered quickly.
But there’s more. Our consumers and other stakeholders, including employees, now want - no expect, our product or service to be delivered within the following framework:
1. Make it Green - Environmentally friendly - made from renewable or recycled materials and processes. Able to be serviced, repaired and disposed of with low environmental impact. Delivered in recyclable or reusable packaging. Increasingly Governments and investors are making funding and investment decisions based on their environmental beliefs or stance. Industries and businesses with bad environmental credentials are likely to find it increasingly difficult to get Government, investor or even bank funding.
2. Give back - Social Purpose - explain to us how your business contributes to social good. It is becoming increasingly common for businesses to identify causes which are supported by way of financial support directly, running events or fundraising functions, or involving team members in volunteering or providing support services. The recent annual “CEO Sleepout” is a great example of this. This can also include so called “pay if forward” arrangements where a particular business invites its customers to pay a small amount on top of their normal purchase price, in order to facilitate an assistance or support payment.
3. Keep it local - Support our Community - let’s support each other with localised spending. Consumers are being encouraged to make a conscious decision to shop and spend with businesses in their own community or industry - the “what goes around comes around” idea. This has become particularly prevalent in the post COVID era as localised communities rally to support each other in recovering from the business impact of the various lockdowns. At its heart however, it’s a great concept. Why not buy to support your local businesses if you have that option?
4. How and where to work - WFH and flexibility - show us how you, as an employer, assist your team with flexible working options. The work from home (WFH) option of course became the “go to” for many businesses and industries during the COVID lockdowns. It is now a hot topic being debated in offices all around our city and the extent to which WFH will become permanently established is still being decided. What appears increasingly evident is that the option of some flexibility in where to work, and within what hours, is very much alive and is likely to be an expectation of employees from here on.
Businesses which can demonstrate a commitment to these things are likely to be favoured by Governments, fellow businesses, consumers and employees as we move into a world of increasing concern about the state of the planet and the influence of the Millennials and GenZ.
Business leaders need to be attuned to these issues and the likelihood of being asked by stakeholders to explain and demonstrate their “credentials” on these issues.