Gen Z and future generations: Game-changers in retail and ecommerce in Southeast Asia

“Customers are, in fact, the ultimate arbiter,” Boni Andika, AirAsia Super App’s Head of Marketing said in an interview with Rockbird Media.

One thing Andika wants people to know about the retail and ecommerce industry is that it is currently and will prosper and customer experience has a huge influence on its current and future landscape. Customer experience is based on perceptions and opinions of the customers themselves, according to him. A brand may claim that they are selling a product or they are providing outstanding customer service, but customers are, in fact, the ultimate arbiter.

“So the best approach for brands is to assess and optimise each customer’s touchpoint to maximise the likelihood of customer satisfaction by fulfilling what the customer needs in the very beginning.”

As Gen Zs (born 1996–2012) come of age, they are becoming the next big market. This generation, including the millennials, understands the quality of products and knows the kind of experience they’re searching for. As the true digital natives, they explore various customer touch points before purchasing.

As a generation that is well-travelled, let’s take for example their attitude toward traveling. Post-pandemic, 74% of Gen Z consumers in APAC are planning to travel in the next 12 months according to a report by YouGov. The report shows, specifically Gen Zs in Singapore and Indonesia, get travel information from various means such as online searches, social media platforms and travel blogs. Getting to know their travel preferences and brand associations will be a great advantage in building engagement, trust and purchase in the future. Personalisation of products to ease purchase decisions are the things Gen Z consumers look for when it comes to travel spending.

This is Andika’s advice to retail and ecommerce leaders too – ensuring a smooth shopping experience for customers is personalisation. For him, personalisation is accommodating customers with content and other marketing strategies based on each preference or past responses. In this way, they can improve the customer experience, boost sales and brand loyalty. Emphasising personalisation can be achieved and can be developed through many ways. Basically, leaders must align their content to the interests of their customers rather than just selling the products.

In the next few years, a new generation yet again would influence the industry. Rajesh Grover, the Group Vice President, Digital & Omnichannel of one of Indonesia’s largest retail conglomerates, Kanmo Group has three things to advise the current and aspiring retail and ecommerce leaders: build product or service around customers’ needs and habits, stay agile and quick to adapt, and anticipate.

“You see, traditionally golden times, businesses and status quo setup could run for a very long time – traditional setups and brick and mortar setups because there weren’t many transitions, the audience wasn’t evolving, the times were not changing. But today, almost every decade causes a generational gap. We have Millennials, then came the Generation Z and very soon you will have the next generation of customers. So the environment is changing very fast where your customers are going to be across various spectrums.”

He emphasised that the most important part is to anticipate. He encourages the market leaders to start anticipating the customers’ needs and how to attract them.

“If you’re not one of those people who plan for the future and change, then you will constantly stay in that mode of trying to catch up.”

Author: Mariel Laxamana, Marketing Director, Philippines, Payments Consulting Network, in collaboration with Rockbird Media

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Payments Consulting Network is a media partner of Retail and E-Commerce Summit Asia – Indonesia Edition. Catch more remarkable retail and ecommerce insights from Boni Andika and Rajesh Grover at the RESA Indonesia Summit on 20 October.