Young as they are, millennial tech consumers are already being replaced by the new kids on the block: Gen Z.
It’s no secret that mobile apps owe much of their widespread popularity to the millennial generation. This cohort of young adults, born between approximately 1980 and the late 1990s, came of age in an era when digital technology and the internet were becoming embedded in virtually every part of our daily lives. Apps are just one of many products of a generation so steeped in digital technology that virtually any new tech interface would be easy to navigate and adopt.
But even more so than millennials, Gen Z is quickly becoming the most web-savvy, app-friendly generation. Born from the late 1990s until now, their interests in tech are different from those of their predecessors, as are their habits of use. While millennials often show a desire for mobility, transparency, and authenticity in their apps, Gen Z is already showing a prioritization of privacy, security, and immediacy.
As Gen Z continues to come into their own, app makers can employ a few strategies designed specifically to appeal to their interests. After all, they’ll be deciding the app economy of the future, and their spending is already expected to reach $200 billion by 2018.
Make It Quick
With an average attention span of eight seconds (versus the millennial generation’s 12 seconds), Gen Z wants everything delivered to them ASAP. Slow downloads, loading times, or transitions between in-app features are the kiss of death for apps attempting to win millennials over, and developers will have even less time to waste with the generation that follows them. This accounts for the popularity of apps like Snapchat and Yik Yak, as both apps appeal to users who have a short attention span for content.
Build an app that functions smoothly and quickly, and that features quick viewing or sharing of content, and you’ve already won half the app battle with young consumers.
Keep Things Simple
To Gen Zers, nothing is more frustrating than a defunct, complicated, or unnecessarily over-designed app. As mentioned above, they prefer things to be done quickly and with ease, and a labyrinthian app is the last thing they want to waste their time navigating.
According to Dima Rakovitsky, writing for dzone.com, poor design is the third most common reason Gen Zers uninstall apps from their devices. As he reports, “almost three-quarters of mobile apps are shipped out for distribution to the app store with anywhere [from] one to ten bugs,” and “20% of these apps are even reported to have up to 50 bugs.” It’s no wonder kids are dropping those apps like flies!
Keep your app simple and bug-free and you’ll ensure that users, especially Gen Zers, keep coming back.
Give App Users Control
In contrast with their millennial peers, Gen Zers are much more concerned with the way their online personas impact their personal brand. For this reason, they enjoy the ephemerality of Snapchat and the anonymity of Kik. But they also like VSCO and Spotify, which give them the power to curate everything from photo collections to their music.
Additionally, a study from the Center for Generational Kinetics found that Gen Zers also have a heightened awareness of security in the digital realm. When surveyed, “Gen Z respondents were more concerned than millennials about their privacy and security when paying with credit and debit cards online, 63% versus 58%.”
Perhaps this increased concern over internet security can be attributed to high-profile hacks that have occurred over the past six years. But interestingly, Jason Dorsey — co-founder and chief strategy officer of the Center for Generational Kinetics — found that Gen Z also had “fewer qualms about entering similar information on mobile pay apps like Venmo.” One can’t ignore that Venmo allows an element of curatorial control over what is public or private in the app (similar to Snapchat or Spotify), and users have the ability to comment and add emojis to transactions in their financial life.
The takeaway: Gen Zers are careful with their private info, but it doesn’t mean they don’t want certain people to know what they’re up to.
What Does This Mean For App Makers?
As Gen Z continues to solidify its identity as a generation, one thing is for sure: they’ll be important to app makers, who should see them both as an opportunity and a challenge. Gen Z represents 25% of the U.S. population, and 85% of that group already has smartphones. They’re discerning customers, and they want app makers to recognize their good taste.
Do you have what it take to design an app for these digital natives? The original way to #makeanapp, AppMakr, is here to get you started, and being digital natives ourselves, we can assure you: all the cool kids are doing it.
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