While advancements in technology have made the world feel smaller than ever before, the gap between the generations has continued to widen. Differences in lifestyle, values and habits between the various age groups have never been larger. Not least of which, how the different generations perceive technology and cybersecurity.
Generation X, as the last generation to have grown up without technology, remains inherently cautious and slow to adopt new technology. As such, they are likely to keep a close eye on their online data and finances. Millennials, in contrast, generally take the security of their technology for granted; with four in five (80%) saying they are happy to trust the safety of their data to the organizations they deal with.
As members of society that were born squarely in the Internet era, Generation Z understands technology on an intuitive level and are quick to separate their public and private lives. Therefore, while they spend 25% of their lives in front of a screen and seemingly like nothing better than share photographs on social media, 81% use privacy settings to limit who can actually see them.
With such a generation gap in attitudes towards technology and privacy; what should tech businesses providing essentially digital services, cybersecurity and devices do to allay these fears, demonstrate their value to their customers and formulate their offerings properly?
The three levels of security
The good news is that there are many similarities when it comes to consumer behavior across all the generations. Whether they come from Generation X, Y or Z, there are three standard levels of cybersecurity that always need to be addressed.
Firstly, the security of devices. Device security has become familiar to everyone in the 21st century. Whilst the younger generation have enough inbuilt knowledge to know how to protect themselves from basic threats. The older generation rely on the anti-virus solutions available for PCs, Mac’s and any mobile operating system.
Secondly, the security of money. The changing payment landscape has made it more difficult to protect our money. The time when we just paid with the cash in our pockets has long gone. Today, using a debit or credit card is by far the most popular method – with four out of five people (81%) having used them to complete an online purchase. The popularity of e-wallets (such as PayPal) and cryptocurrencies are gathering momentum too.
Finally, the security of the data itself. With high-profile breaches continuing to happen with unerring regularity and data becoming the subject of buying and selling, data privacy fears show no sign of abating. Facebook, for example, in addition to previous data safety scandals recently had to admit that an attacker had exploited a technical vulnerability that provided access to 50 million user accounts via a hole in the “view as” feature of its app.
Research shows that there has been a large spike this year in the value of stolen data traded on the dark web: debit card details are the most valuable, selling for an average $250 (P13,000) while Amazon credentials are just over $30 (P1580).
A question of trust
Whether in the office or the home, for any technology to become truly transformative, it needs to have an intuitive user experience at its heart that will enhance a user’s daily life. However, as people from all generations demand greater security, trust becomes an important commodity too.
Today, consumer behavior is increasingly defined by whether or not the technology brand they are purchasing from has their best interests in mind.
A cross-generational trust in a technology remains imperative to any new service or innovation surviving and become a success. Those organizations that have garnered a trustworthy reputation have enhanced their likelihood of selection, purchase or renewal.
A granular approach and maintaining a balance
With an acceptance that there are different privacy drivers between the different generations, should organizations tailor their offerings accordingly? Yes and no. The truth is that your marketing strategy shouldn’t be defined by age alone. A more granular approach is always recommended and can be done through the creation of different personas.
All millennials, for example, are not the same. One may be single and a mid-level manager in an accountancy firm, another may be married with two kids and plays in a symphonic orchestra.
Imagine a company has five defined target audiences including “digital office workers” or “school teenagers”. This is only the tip of the iceberg; each of these five groups contains around ten more granular types of audience.
Once narrowed down, these granular audiences contain perhaps 10 to 15 different “avatars” themselves. This could be a teenager from a wealthy family who has access to the most advanced gadgets, or a young IT geek responsible for their entire family’s IT. It is, therefore, important for organizations to consider hundreds of granular avatars when planning their marketing communications.
When creating various customer communications, it is important to highlight different user case scenarios for each small group and show how the product meets their habits and needs. Organizations should pay attention to the likely route of a customer’s journey, so that they can communicate with them effectively along the way.
The customer journey through a traditional form of sales funnel doesn’t work with such a granular approach as it needs to be multi-dimensional and contain hundreds of layers. New digital communication channels, such as messenger apps, and emerging marketing tools can assist with this, however. This digital-driven approach to sales does demand investment and reorganization of processes, but it will enable businesses to thrive in increasingly competitive markets.
While there is undoubtedly a gap between the different generations’ attitudes towards technology and the privacy issues that surround it; there is, perhaps, more commonality than at first thought. A one-size-fits-all approach rarely works as users’ attitudes inevitably vary on different issues.
However, it is wrong to put these dissimilarities simply down to the year they were born. Organizations that produce and sell technology in any sphere should maintain a balance between broad values like the user experience and individual values for each target audience.
The author is the vice president of global sales at Kaspersky Lab