Brands must offer more to build loyalty with younger customers
A new study from technology specialist Ricoh Ireland has highlighted generational differences in customer service expectations. Older age groups are revealed as being less forgiving of brands, while younger customers expect far more information at the consideration stage, along with deep post-sales interaction to build lasting brand relationships. The survey of 3,600 consumers was conducted by Censuswide across Europe and included more than 250 Irish respondents.
The research found that added services, such as the inclusion of third-party reviews and recommendations, are vastly more important to younger consumers than older generations. Some 43% of 16 to 24-year-olds rated this as the factor that impresses them most when choosing to buy from a brand, compared to only 20% of over 55s.
Customers also seek streamlined user experiences, with the research finding that 62% of over 55s would walk away from brands with laborious sales processes, compared to 43% of 16 to 24-year-olds. Of all age groups, 55% of customers would abandon a purchase if they found the process difficult.
Older customers were also revealed as being less interested in loyalty programmes and incentives for frequent purchases. Only 19% felt this was an impressive factor in brand selection, compared to 38% of 16 to 24-year-olds.
Chas Moloney, director, Ricoh Ireland and UK, said: “Our research highlights a core challenge facing brands today – how they can navigate a varied set of preferences from customers across generations. Understanding why young people build affinity with a brand is a crucial factor in ensuring future success, while continued attention to other age groups’ needs is integral to customer satisfaction and retention. For those that get it right the rewards are there for the taking, shown by the fact that 57% of customers spend more with brands that make them feel valued.”
Ricoh’s research also found that customers are increasingly going to great lengths to access information pre-purchase. Younger consumers are more frustrated by not being able to interact with a brand via social media, with 50% of 16 to 24-year-olds saying it irritates them, compared to 26% of over 55s.
Moloney continued: “Brands cannot shirk the responsibility of providing lines of communication for their customers. This is now taken for granted by young consumers, leading to frustration in its absence. It’s paramount that Irish businesses are on social media and fully aware of their consumers’ behaviour. Significant numbers of Irish consumers are using social media to interact with brands prior to purchase. This provides huge opportunities for Irish businesses to connect with, and learn about, their audience.”