Why mobile first UX is critical to Generation Z 2

Why mobile first UX is critical to Generation Z

It will come as no surprise that half of today’s teens are addicted to their smartphones. While this sounds like hell to most parents – fed up of talking to their son/daughter’s bowed head as they pore over their News Feed – to businesses this is key information that can help you appeal to the next generation of consumers: Generation Z (Gen Z).

Today’s teens are tomorrow’s homeowners, parents, and breadwinners, so earn their consumer loyalty now and you could build a buyer-business relationship that lasts a lifetime. So how do we win over this new highly connected group? The answer, unsurprisingly, is strongly rooted in your mobile UX.

Gen Z buying behaviour

The Mobile-first Mindset report published this March shows that 53% of teenagers make purchases online. Compare this to the older demographics – while not a linear increase, online purchases are clearly more popular with Generation Z: 43% of 25-34-year-olds buy online, and only 30% of 18-24-year-olds do.

Online purchasing behaviour by age

Before we delve any further into the report, let’s just focus on this for a moment. If buyer behaviour continues on an upward trajectory, almost every consumer will favour online check-outs over physical shopping experiences in a matter of decades.

Admittedly, ‘decades’ isn’t exactly ‘immediate’. However, the right foundations can build businesses that trade for centuries. Marks & Spencer has been trading for 133 years, and the products that John Cadbury debuted in his shop in 1824 are still bought globally nearly 200 years later. If your business goals are firmly planted in the long term, then considering the user behaviour of the future is crucial.

Mobile natives

Many teens view getting their first mobile phone as a major milestone in their lives. Clearly, this device is of huge importance to Generation Z, allowing them independence, as well as the ability to make their own spending choices. Of the teenagers who buy online, over half of them do so using a phone; many say it’s because of the convenience.

But buying is far from the only thing Gen Zers do on their phones: 71% spend over three hours a day watching videos on a small screen. 38% of them prefer text as a means of contacting someone, while just 15% favour face-to-face interaction. To many in older generations, this is symptomatic of a less social society. However, a simple search shows the jury is still out on this theory:

From a different perspective, this desire to be in touch in an online capacity indicates that teens crave interaction, but on their terms. Messaging apps allow time and thought to factor into conversations in a way that isn’t possible face-to-face.

This reflects on them as consumers, too. Time to consider, browse, and price-check their products is part of what makes an online buying experience appealing, giving users more control over what and when they buy.

Furthermore, 90% of conversions to purchase online happen in apps rather than on browser, which is an important statistic for businesses hoping to appeal to a mobile-native generation. When you develop a digital strategy with Gen Z in mind, consider the benefits of a slick and well-designed app as well as an intuitive mobile site: if you build the app, they will come.

And, while you’re at it, include a range of videos that showcase your products. If over three hours a day is going to be spent watching video content, give them some dynamic options to fill those three hours.

Getting ‘Gen Z’ ready

Mobile is clearly a major player in the world of online purchases. In order to hold your own in an oversaturated digital world, pay attention to how users behave now, and how they are likely to behave in the years to come. Teenagers can teach us a lot about making a user experience simple: if they really do have a shorter attention span, then appeal to it – don’t make them wait or work hard to buy your product.

If getting a mobile phone is of such importance to those in Generation Z, then reward them by making your mobile user experience one that was worth waiting for.

Andrew Machin
Andrew Machin

With over 25 years’ experience in UX and digital strategy, Andrew has helped many national and global brands such as John Lewis, Harley Davidson, Johnson & Johnson, and Interflora create exceptional digital product experiences.

Through the success of such projects Andrew has received high-profile accolades that span innovation, strategy, and design, such as the Dadi Grand Prix Award and the Digital Impact Award for Innovation.

This experience has led to Andrew judging digital design awards, been featured in .net magazine, lecturing at Leeds university, and speaking at seminars and conferences across the UK.

Articles: 109

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below and subscribe to our newsletter