Generation Z: the most willing to share data with brands, but only for a good experience

Gen Z was the first gen­er­a­tion to grow up with the inter­net. They’re dig­i­tal natives in the strictest sense, but by the time most of them were able to use the inter­net, it was already teem­ing with search engines, paid adver­tis­ing and social media.

Regard­less of when you were born, peo­ple want more per­son­alised expe­ri­ences, faster ser­vice, and more rel­e­vant com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Here­in lies a gold­en oppor­tu­ni­ty for brands will­ing to embrace intel­li­gent ana­lyt­ics to bet­ter under­stand each of their cus­tomers and deliv­er them tai­lor-made expe­ri­ences that are tar­get­ed and relatable.

Typ­i­cal­ly born from the mid-1990s to ear­ly 2000s, Gen Z has been exposed to dig­i­tal media since birth, so you’d expect them to pos­sess the know how to nav­i­gate it with skill and ease. How­ev­er, a recent Adobe study, Across the Gen­er­a­tions, has shown the truth to be a lit­tle more complicated.

As part of the study, 1,200 British con­sumers from an even spread of gen­er­a­tions were sur­veyed about their inter­ac­tions online. One of the study’s most sur­pris­ing find­ings is that Gen Z is the age group most like­ly to engage with dig­i­tal media. 43% of con­sumers sug­gest­ed Gen Z are the most like­ly to be influ­enced online, com­pared to only 17% for Baby Boomers. What’s more, Gen Z are self-aware of the effect dig­i­tal media have over them, with 41% agree­ing they were like­ly to be influ­enced than oth­er gen­er­a­tions. Gen Z’s open­ness online is also evi­dent in their engage­ment with online adver­tis­ing, with 52% of Gen Z fre­quent­ly click­ing on dig­i­tal ads.

Gen Z was found, by a small mar­gin, to be the most ide­al­is­tic gen­er­a­tion when it comes to brands use of data. 28% of Gen Z respon­dents believed brands “do the right thing” with their data, com­pared to 26% of Mil­len­ni­als, 27% of Gen X, and only 17% of Baby Boomers.

How­ev­er, when it comes to shar­ing their own data, Gen Z are a lit­tle more dis­cern­ing. They are will­ing to share their data, but only if it improves their over­all brand expe­ri­ence. If they don’t see the imme­di­ate val­ue in shar­ing their data with a brand – such as web­site reg­is­tra­tion to unlock gat­ed con­tent – Gen Z is the first to stop shar­ing. Accord­ing to the sur­vey, Gen Z takes more sophis­ti­cat­ed steps than oth­er gen­er­a­tions to con­trol the data they share with brands, tak­ing time to con­fig­ure their data pref­er­ences online (33%) and request­ing data removal from social media sites (19%).

Does this mean Gen Z is more eas­i­ly influ­enced online? Does it mean they are more dis­cern­ing with their data? Gen Z is sim­ply more used to dig­i­tal media, and there­fore more open to inter­act­ing with brands online. How­ev­er, where Gen Z is more open to dig­i­tal media, they are also high­ly prag­mat­ic. As dig­i­tal natives, they ful­ly under­stand the data/experience val­ue exchange: they are pre­pared to share their data with brands, but they expect their over­all brand expe­ri­ence to improve in return.

Gen Z is savvy when it comes to con­trol­ling the data they share with brands with their data, but they’re not the only gen­er­a­tion to respond bet­ter when their online inter­ac­tions are reward­ed with some sort of val­ue-add. Whether it’s Gen Z, Mil­len­ni­als, or even Baby Boomers, con­sumers expect to receive some­thing in return for shar­ing their data, or for engag­ing with online advertising.

The bot­tom line is, expe­ri­ence can’t be tak­en for grant­ed. The best brands know that in order to suc­ceed they need to pro­vide an engag­ing, per­son­alised and seam­less cus­tomer expe­ri­ence that enables them to reach diverse mar­kets, at scale. These are the brands that will win the hearts and minds of cus­tomers, no mat­ter which gen­er­a­tion they are part of.