Generation Y and Z

Louise Read, from Experian, a member of the millennial generation, looks at how social media and data protection is being changed by Generation Z.

Hearing a keynote speaker at DMA’s Data Protection Update announce that social media is dead surprised me, to say the least. A fan of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, I can’t say the statement sits well with me, but I do agree that the way we use social media has changed.

As a millennial, I’ve grown up during the social media evolution. My friends and I would share everything online with very little consideration for the consequences of knowingly or unknowingly sharing so much personal information. It’s really only in the last couple of years that people have begun to think about the data trail they leave and the value that their personal data has for businesses and brands.

New generation = new behaviour

However, attitudes are changing, and they’re changing quickly. Today’s teenagers are savvy about the implications of sharing certain information online. Plus, they understand the data-value exchange - and expect something in return.

Schools now hold lessons on online safety to educate teenagers about the appropriate level of information to share. They’re trained to be cautious early on. This is the future post-millennials: The iGeneration, also known as Generation Z.

This generation is usually classified as born in 1994 or later. Those who have grown up with smartphones and tablets at their fingertips. According to the Harvard Business Review, “like Millennials, iGens share constant connectedness, but this generation of digital natives is also fiercely independent about their digital decision-making.”

When we think about businesses, they’re facing an increasingly wary and educated generation, and they need to be prepared. Especially if they want to continue to have access to vital information that improves their ability to understand build, serve and retain customers.

Experian and Data IQ recently conducted research into changing consumer attitudes. This research uncovered three key consumer attitudes towards the way that businesses use their data: trusting, rational and cautious.

It’s not a shock that the cautious group outweighed the others by nearly half (49%). While the survey took a representation of the UK population, the research didn’t include under 18s, who would be classified as part of Generation Z, an even savvier group.

If you compared the research against the DMA’s last year, there has been a growth in consumer attitudes. The DMA’s research also split consumer attitudes into three groups. The cautious group, or ‘fundamentalist’ in this case, only represented 24%.

Maximising data responsibly

Businesses now need to respond to these changing attitudes or risk losing a key strategic asset – customer data. Experian’s annual Global Data Management Research shows, that year on year, organisations are putting increased importance and value on their data - 84% of respondents said data was integral part of forming business strategy and that 79% of businesses believed customer data would drive sales decisions.

The importance of data is only going to rise, and businesses that fail to invest in proactive and optimised data management processes risk falling behind. People need to feel that data is being used safely and appropriately, and businesses need the crucial intelligence to help make better decisions.

Back to social media – it’s unlikely that social is on its way out.

The user community increases daily and according to Forbes, this number is growing at a rate of 9% a year. However, with changing consumer attitudes, businesses need to safeguard their approach to data management.

Changing data regulations are helping to accelerate this process by putting individual data rights firmly back in the hands of the data owners and removing any sense of a business ownership.

While regulation might be the driving force for investment, businesses need to consider this shift in attitude by establishing the necessary people, processes and technology, and build in privacy by design.

The amount of information available is phenomenal and of a scale many find daunting. It’s up to businesses to help their consumers feel confident that they are a respected brand that takes the management of their customers’ personal information seriously; not one that makes them fear the amount businesses might know about them.

This all starts with having an effective data management strategy in place to manage and protect customer information.

By Louise Read, marketing specialist at Experian. This article was originally posted on Digital Marketing Magazine.

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