In today’s global online market, it’s not uncommon to see new goods and services popping up every few days, only to sink back into obscurity in the same amount of time.
The constant rise and fall of ideas and products can be credited to the overwhelming connectedness of our society. Social media and the internet allow producers and consumers to engage in an ongoing discussion that can spark innovation and ingenuity.
However, this connection between those who demand and those who supply is not always beneficial for the marketplace.
Because consumers possess far-reaching communicative power, especially when trying to reach producers, they can to some extent exact their will on the production and marketing of the goods and services they desire.
The main perpetrators of this product-bending practice fall in the Gen Z demographic (those aged between 13 and 24), simply because of the widespread presence of technology in that age group.
Although the running dialogue practiced by Gen Z can create numerous benefits for companies seeking to market more carefully, consumers with such pervasive, insistent voices can also be restrictive in many ways.
Here are 6 ways today’s youth are going beyond affecting, and are actually infecting the flow of goods in the marketplace.
1. The all-seeing lens.
With technology at their fingertips, Gen Z is known for having information easily accessible at all times, and this is definitely true when it involves the brands they follow.
Never before has there been such an emphasis on details like specific release dates and omitted features. Today’s young consumers see all with an unblinking, observant eye.
The growing connectedness between consumers and producers strengthens the market by solidifying overall awareness of goods and making it more difficult to partake in shady business dealings; in this way, the market benefits.
Although there is nothing inherently harmful about products being more visible to consumers as they are designed, certain problems can arise when total transparency becomes the norm.
Consumers should certainly be aware of the inner workings of the market to some extent, if only to prevent manipulation by buyers. But the current degree of communication between buyers and sellers can confound the market and create turbulence rather than healthy dialogue.
2. Open suggestions.
One of Gen Z’s many powers is their ability to send messages to anyone, from anywhere, at any time.
In the context of the market, this involves consumers watching production closely and chiming in with their own ideas as the process chugs along.
Accepting suggestions can definitely lead to the enhancement of a product or service (user feedback exists for a reason!). However, the deluge of comments and suggestions created by widespread communication can be repetitive, unnecessary or simply unhelpful in the grand scheme of product design.
It’s no secret that Gen Z has plenty of ideas about the products they follow. What matters is whether their comments are helpful.
The vast number of suggestions that currently exist may seem beneficial on paper, but in practice, they merely muddle the marketplace without offering enough substantive criticism to be effective.
3. The expectation of change.
Along with the massive running dialogue created by Gen Z, there also exists an expectation of constant response from producers.
Because young consumers can essentially voice their concerns any time they want, they imagine that producers can respond with the same frequency.
Although it is possible for businesses to consider every message sent their way, it’s simply not practical to sift through all those comments.
Thus, it’s understandable that businesses don’t immediately become aware of all the complaints or suggestions that their collective user bases have amassed.
Although this level of communication is theoretically beneficial, it’s impossible to constantly be aware of all consumer concerns and ideas; the expectation of immediate change only creates unnecessary commotion.
4. Limited knowledge.
Scan the opinions circulating on the internet, and it quickly becomes obvious that not everyone who comments on a product is knowledgeable in that area.
Suggestions can come from anyone, even those who know nothing about the design of a product or service.
The far-reaching communicative power of today’s technologies presents no barriers to users, so virtually anyone can voice their opinions about the “design flaws” of a product or the “unwillingness” of businesses to listen. However, these opinions are not all of the same quality.
5. Shiny accessories.
As well as constantly supplying suggestions and opinions that may not be well informed, Gen Zers who put forth their ideas are not always concerned with the most important details of products and services.
More often than not, today’s youth will take to social media to comment on trivial details or accessories of products rather than the whole item itself.
This focus on minor features is a result of the fast-paced, scaled-down nature of social media.
Gen Z and younger consumers are more accustomed to gleaning information from quick bullet points than from long paragraphs. So, it makes sense that the small details are their main focus; those are simply the aspects of goods and services that they pay most attention to.
This is problematic because, while businesses are being swamped by suggestions, many of those comments are not even focused on the product.
6. Powerless producers.
Perhaps the most harmful effect Gen Z has on the marketplace is the control they have over producers.
With so many concerns being voiced at once — some misinformed, some demanding change, and some unfocused — producers are essentially powerless to enact any real response to the mass of Gen Zers begging to be heard.
The inability of producers to address every suggestion sent their way creates unnecessary tumult and only strengthens the will of consumers who feel that they are sparking change with continued unfocused comments.
Thus the cycle continues, and the technology that serves to connect people only creates a bigger divide between the two sides of the marketplace.