Intergenerational wars are all the rage on social media, especially after the “OK, boomer” meme made headlines nationwide. But the apparent conflict between the older and younger American generations is not just a struggle for cultural scores. It is also a reality in the consumer market.
Recent reports from Business Insider have shed some light on this market warfare, These reports show how consumers react to politics and other important issues.explaining that recent polls suggest younger and older consumers are at odds when it comes to brand trust.
While at a glance, this bit of information may seem like just another claim regarding generational preferences, it also provides insights into what brands particular consumers are into. This is golden information for the market and may help to shape how brands interact with their potential audiences. Further, it provides important information on how consumers react to politics and how privacy and other important politically charged issues come to light when consumers are ready and willing to spend their money.
Governmental Brands Versus the Private Market
Tech companies often deal with privacy issues. So do government-backed enterprises such as USPS.
Both types of businesses have had their share of scandals thanks in part to the way these companies deal with our private property, whether it’s located online or in a physical envelope. The difference between these two sectors is how they respond (or don’t) to criticism in order to give the consumer peace of mind.
The US Postal Service has long been at the center of serious debate regarding privacy and how far a mail carrier service can go to aid government and law enforcement, even if that means taking part in unconstitutional acts. Unfortunately, Americans have yet to see a real change in how the agency does business.To Generation Z consumers, accountability seems to matter. Younger consumers are also happy to see companies engaging in real-time culture.
The government-backed service doesn’t have real competitors, as US law forbids any other company or individual from delivering private correspondence.
Companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, etc. all have reasons to fear that their current leadership positions may no longer be a reality if they anger enough consumers.
That’s why after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden came forward with revelations regarding private tech companies aiding the federal government in unconstitutional spying practices, these firms felt the backlash.
To this day, many of them still struggle and won’t go one day without being attacked for their practices, putting them in the unholy position of offering government aid in killing their competitors.
Accountability Matters to Gen Z
To Generation Z consumers, accountability seems to matter, especially when you consider what Instagram Shopping's product lead, Layla Amjadi, has to say about young consumers and their preferences.
According to Business Insider, Amjadi sees Gen Z shoppers like herself truly valuing authenticity, meaning that Gen Z wants “you to give it to them straight.” According to the market researcher, younger consumers are also happy to see companies engaging in real-time culture, meaning privacy issues might really be a driving force both personally and culturally.
When a brand repeatedly fails to address scandals, younger shoppers feel they can no longer trust them. But what about older shoppers? Have their feelings regarding services such as USPS changed over the years?
According to Business Insider, the answer is no.
[W]hen it comes to the brands that they trust the most, Gen Z gravitates toward tech, ranking Google, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, and Playstation as its top picks. Those rankings have no common ground with those of the baby boomers.
For older shoppers, the United States Postal Service delivers the most when it comes to trust. The federal mail service is followed closely by the United Parcel Service, Hershey, the Weather Channel, and Cheerios.
In the years after the Snowden files surfaced, tech companies took a beating in the public arena, which forced them to be loud and proud about their new and creative approaches to privacy in order to gain back consumer trust. The same did not happen with USPS, yet baby boomers have no problem putting their trust in the service.
Yes, Kids Value Entertainment—but That’s Not the Whole Story
While Gen Z members put their trust in entertainment-focused brands such as Netflix, Playstation, and YouTube, companies like Amazon and Google are also in the business of making consumption and knowledge respectively more readily accessible to a greater audience.
If anything, younger consumers aren’t only after amusement, but they do seek more amusement opportunities precisely because now they have the free time for it.
Options such as Amazon Fresh and Prime Pantry help young shoppers stay home while their groceries come to them.
To many, Google has provided enough remote working opportunities that even to those with little schooling, working from home has become a full-time gig. It will be interesting to see whether agencies like USPS will adapt at all or whether the government will continue to pay the price.Younger Americans aren’t spending hours driving to and from work and are now more available at home, meaning they can consume what firms like Netflix have to offer.
Older Americans, on the other hand, are slowly making the change to more online life, but this shift hasn’t happened fast enough, and they still value getting things done the old-fashioned way.
While there’s plenty of room for improvement among brands trying to cater to a younger audience, it is clear that there are certain styles that will prevail over the next few years, whereas other, less market-based approaches will continue to lose favor among the younger crowds.
It will be interesting to see whether agencies like USPS will adapt at all or whether the government will continue to pay the price for the growing discontent with the postal service.