Bus operators must understand the requirements of Generation Z customers and accept that it takes more to please them, Blackpool Transport Marketing Manager Shane Grindey informed delegates at the ALBUM conference in Blackpool on 26 April.
Generation Z – which is formed of people born between 1997 and 2012 – has an inherently digital narrative and is “drastically different” from predecessor generations, Mr Grindey explains. However, members of it have the scope to “influence other generations” and thus the different approach required should be taken seriously, he adds.
Key to that is Generation Z’s expectation to access and be able to evaluate much information before making a purchase. Its members are also willing to pay a premium for personalised products, and they value a brand’s ethics, including its approach to diversity and inclusion. “The brand thus has to make a stand – and tell the world,” Mr Grindey says.
Such a stance is not the only thing required to succeed with Generation Z. People within it are harder to please and are more critical than other generations, and a “true retail experience” figures highly among their aspirations. That requires a stronger customer focus, but although Generation Z is more expecting than its predecessors, its members are more accepting if something goes wrong – as long as the reason is explained.
Delivering a retail experience sits alongside giving Generation Z a reason to travel, but the position of commercial offerings is also important. Where a young person’s fare is offered, most passengers in that category see it as an increase from a child fare rather than a discount on the adult level.
However, there is significant scope for the bus industry to leverage its relationship with Generation Z individuals, who are often highly environmentally conscious. “As operators, we can become their friends and not their enemies,” Mr Grindey concludes.