In today’s market, the fact that members of the Millennial generation are digitally reliant should be old hat to marketers. After all, they did grow up in an era that barely remembers life without the internet accessible at their fingertips, and they aren’t shy about utilizing digital in all facets of their lives, from entertainment to organization and everything in between.
They aren’t the only ones, either.
Teens today, members of the pivotal Generation Z, are the first generation of consumers to have truly grown up in an an era entirely connected by digital technology. Beginning in early childhood, if they did not know the answer to a question, they were taught to “Google it” or, even better, “ask Siri.” And as technology continues to rapidly evolve, the things that were once considered groundbreaking advances for Boomers and Gen X are taken for granted by this group and Millennials.
As a result, a smartphone is no longer a piece of technology – it is a part of life. Gen Z and Millennial consumers alike are not amazed by the latest release because they now expect the functionality and ease of use that such products are intended to deliver. This is especially true for teens, who require mobile-optimization from brands.
This perpetuates the demand for a Frictionless Journey that now exists. Because of heightened expectations based on digital innovation, Millennials and Gen Z consumers demand the conveyance of a seamless customer experience at every touch point with brands, both in-person and online, that has little or no barriers to purchase.
While many brands are striving to be as accessible and frictionless as possible (and they are doing the right thing), they still have to go further. Ease and efficiency alone are no longer enough to win customer loyalty and love.
This means that the consumer journey must maintain the removal of friction points in terms of simplicity of use and access, but it must also add emotion to the overall experience. Why is this significant? Emotion leads to memory creation, and the creation of a great memory will be relived over and over again. These memories are what truly enable customers to develop love and loyalty to a brand, and there is no denying that in present times, loyalty is quite difficult for brands to come by.
Brands should focus on what we at Barkley refer to as “brand vitality,” which is the process of creating strength and energy for a brand by encouraging consumers to elect to be a part of the brand, versus face feeling like they have to connect with the brand in some separate, external way. Consumers are more likely to lock onto a brand that creates a shared memory through emotion in addition to providing ease and efficiency throughout the consumer journey. Too often, brands define frictionless as only ease and efficiency, when in reality they are missing the important additive component of an emotional aspect (which is what truly drives brand love).
As a result, frictionless is no longer the ultimate goal. Rather, it is a means to the actual goal – a memorable experience. The brands that assume this new era of frictionless and use it to evolve their experience innovation, whether in brick-and-mortar stores or in digital showrooms, will be the ones that win.