Mind the generation gap: Why brands score low on customer experience

As Indian businesses rush to make the most of the digital marketing goldmine made possible by the large scale reach and cheaper internet accessibility, the fast evolving consumer is also sending out strong signals on what she wants. While privacy and relevance are taken for granted, what users are really looking for is customisation. But the biggest deal breaker to ‘AI based custom algorithms’ is the realisation that different age groups have diametrically opposite expectations about the digital experience and this will significantly add to the labyrinthine complexity of digital marketing in India.

Adobe’s recent report on consumer experience expectations discovered that while consumers want to be respected across the board, the 18-24 age group is looking for surprises and a novel online experience, while older consumers just want a uniform experience which they can understand easily. Also millenials and generation X-ers are more likely to be critical of their online experience than any other age group; the young look for more value from a platform native to them. The most surprising part of the study was that with increasing age, consumers are more hopeful about the positive impact of technological innovations on their lives and are happy with reduced interaction with humans in return.

“Simultaneously, India is the world’s oldest civilization but possesses the youngest population of millennials. It presents tremendous room for businesses big and small to thrive. In this hyper-competitive landscape, innovative customer experiences are the biggest differentiator for brands,” said Kulmeet Bawa, managing director, South Asia, Adobe.

Given the divergent expectations and the multiplicity of factors that contribute to the customer’s online experience, brands will need to engage more deeply with the data to craft more intelligent and empathetic experiences for their consumers. Bawa notes that brands like TataCliq and Vistara have successfully used analytics to improve their conversion rates. TataCliq has been able to streamline customer engagement, enable ease of shopping and significantly reduce operational costs while Vistara is using the data to get actionable customer intelligence insights and improve business decision making.

Brands are using this information to deliver customer experiences, drive loyalty and stay ahead in the marketplace. But, it is imperative that they deliver a consistent message and a unified experience at the same time, the report said. It is also important that they account for the generational difference in expectations over and above the regional, language and income differences that they already have to contend with. But for companies going to great lengths to ensure they have the right brand image and engagement platform in place, does it make business sense to spend on multiple forms of engagement?

“This is feasible and instead, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ experience in digital will drive consumers away. One of the key trends that companies need to appreciate and adopt quickly is ‘journey analytics’ in the case of digital and then present content intuitively based on these customer journeys—it can be different for young and old consumers,” notes S.Swaminathan, 
co-founder and CEO of Hansa Cequity.

He adds that ‘hybrid AI user experiences’ based on ‘tech-comfort’ need to be woven-in depending on customer age, language etc. However, this area is still in early stages of growth and will need more demographic digital data to help the technology mature. 

Bawa adds that the lines between physical and digital worlds are blurring , leading to heightened customer expectations. And this will lead to greater dependence on data as brands strive to deliver personalised, relevant and compelling customer experiences.

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