The DCPerform Podcast: The Customer Experience Transition from Baby Boomer to The Next Gens
New generations are creeping into buying power… how is this generational shift impacting brands? Join host, Rachael Weber and guests Stuart Plath (Engineer/PMO SME, DCPerform) & Aris Hoath (Director, DCPerform) as they explore how the evolved customer experience is affecting the industry.
During this episode, Rachael, Stuart, and Aris take a deep dive into the evolution of technology, the generational differences between those exposed to technology at different stages in life, and how companies are keeping up with the new consumer demands as their ideal customer profile is beginning to generationally shift.
Thanks for listening to the DCPerform Podcast!
00;00;00;04 – 00;00;20;14
Hello and welcome back to the DCPerform podcast. Happy New Year. My name is Rachael Weber. Well, thanks for joining us today. We have two great guests joining us, Iris Health and Stuart Plath, who are both members of the DCPerform team. And together we’re going to explore that current transition that’s happening as baby boomers are aging and we’re moving into the next generation, gaining buying power.
00;00;20;16 – 00;00;43;08
Thanks for tuning into the DCPerform podcast and Happy New Year. Aris and Stuart. Great to have you guys on the DCPerform podcast. Thanks for joining me today. Yeah, thank you. Stuart. You are on the engineering team. You’re one of our key engineers, correct? Yeah. And Aris, you’re one of our directors. So you’re, you know, frontline worker with working with the customer along with the engineering team building, fostering those relationships.
00;00;43;08 – 00;01;01;05
So why don’t you guys give a little background about who you guys are and what your role is been in the engineering world for a while now. Coming up on almost ten years and with our role at DC perform being a lead engineer and as well as project manager. So including project manager and site management. What about you?
00;01;01;07 – 00;01;19;09
I went to university, graduated 2019 in sales and management, and then I went into the manufacturing industry doing sales there in Indiana, moved out to Phoenix with my wife and I’ve been in the supply chain material handling industry since 2020. Now I wanted to go ahead and define each of the generations that are most relevant to what we’re going to talk about today.
00;01;19;09 – 00;01;44;28
We have that baby boomer generation born in 1946, 1964, and then we go to Generation X, which was 1965 to 1980, the millennial generation or the Gen Y generation, 1981 to 1996. And then that Generation Z is 1997 to 2010 eras you and I were talking about this the other day. There’s that subgroup in there that had that exposure.
00;01;44;28 – 00;02;09;23
It’s a little bit different than Millennial or a Gen Z. Yeah. I mean, we’re we’re kind of in a gray area in between those generations. As I said at the beginning, you know, we grew up with both the older technology and the newer technology, rapidly advancing. That technology was introduced to us at a time in our lives where it was easier for us to learn it because it is something that we could focus on a little bit more.
00;02;09;23 – 00;02;29;04
But I think the younger generations probably historically and probably will always have kind of a leg up on that in terms of understanding how newer technologies work and how they can be used. Let’s just start from the beginning before we get into the thick of things. So the technological advancements in day to day life have extremely grown over the years.
00;02;29;04 – 00;02;48;27
Different generations are getting a different level of exposure. So I’m curious to hear from you guys. What was your exposure like as a child to technology? And, you know, are there any experiences that have impacted the way that you think about things? Yeah, I mean, it’s funny because we were kind of that first generation that grew up with, you know, a DVD and a VCR player in the same console together.
00;02;48;27 – 00;03;07;28
Right. We were right on that verge of smart technology. And I think what we were like 1112 when the first iPhone came out, I think we were the first generation to truly grow up with the technology and that just learning, you know, ever changing adaptation cycles. I was, what, 15 and I had a flip phone which was like a game changer.
00;03;08;12 – 00;03;30;28
And then today we’re at we’re smartphones. It’s it’s insane. Something about like the way that I grew up, too, is that I felt like I was really exposed to technology on a different level just because my parents were both in the tech industry, just that exposure and their passion for technology and how it was always evolving and we were always getting that next greatest thing really shaped.
00;03;30;28 – 00;03;51;24
I think who I am today. And I think another thing too, that I’ve naturally developed over time, just with that early exposure to technology, and I don’t know if you guys feel the same way, but is that instinctual habit to troubleshoot different issues when you’re working with a software piece of technology? Yeah, start with turn it on, turn it off again.
00;03;53;00 – 00;04;11;26
I start there first and then yeah. And I’m sure from the engineering side too you see a lot of that with customers. I mean yeah, well especially on the control side, you, you see the, the comfortability that clients have a lot of times they immediately think it’s a sensor issue or a control issue as some as opposed to something mechanical.
00;04;11;27 – 00;04;37;06
There’s definitely a shift in buying power that’s happening right now as baby boomers are aging, their spend is now trending towards health, over lifestyle, things that ideal customer profile to some brands is definitely shifting or needing to shift in light of the customer experience. What’s a value to our generation? Yeah, I mean, I’d say it’s convenience and choice would be a two main values from our generation.
00;04;37;06 – 00;04;56;08
I mean, take my wife, for example. She orders her clothing on a website. They advertise this process where she can pick whatever she wants online, and in two days it gets delivered to the house. And then on our own time, she can try what works, what doesn’t, and then whatever she doesn’t want, she just puts it in the box at the end with the prepackaged shipping label.
00;04;56;15 – 00;05;13;26
And then I take it to the post office for her. You’re the delivery man. The delivery man. You throw it in the box and we get our money back and it’s they advertise that process and they have so many more options than a brick and mortar store because companies realize it’s a lot more efficient to just ship directly from a DC.
00;05;13;26 – 00;05;30;02
You can pack, you know, 10,000 SKUs in there versus a brick and mortar store that can maybe only hold 1020. Yeah. From a company perspective, think how can you better position yourself to be constant in front of, you know, your customer, brick and mortar? You know, the only time you’re in front of them is when they drive by.
00;05;30;15 – 00;05;54;08
So if you’re able to, you know, in the digital age, be able to position yourself online with a website or through social media on Instagram, TikTok, whatever, however you’re able to be in front of, you know, your consumer, that’s that’s going to be the way to do it. The tools that you give them to buy and make that experience simpler and more enjoyable, they’re going to keep coming back.
00;05;54;09 – 00;06;16;28
I read this study by McKinsey, and they worked with a consumer trend research agency, and they conducted a study in Brazil in the three major cities, and they chose Brazil because 20% of the population is gen-z. They’re trying to gain a better understanding of how that generation and the way they think is impacting the broader population. They found that Gen Z behaviors are all anchored in one element, which is the generations search for truth.
00;06;17;09 – 00;06;41;25
So Gen Z’s value, individual expression and avoid labels. They take action for a variety of causes and they believe in using effective dialog to solve conflicts and improve the world. So they’re thinking about the broader population. What do you think that the reasoning behind these generational changes in customer experiences is? I think it’s the flip side where it’s not the generation that defines what their need is.
00;06;41;25 – 00;07;02;06
I think it’s the external circumstances that allow them the opportunity to realize those needs. What I mean by that is, you know, a lot of causes and there’s a lot of values and passions that our generation has for causes around the world. Well, this is the first generation we’ve ever been in where we can pick up our phone and type anything into the Internet and know what’s going on around the globe.
00;07;02;06 – 00;07;29;00
And so we can pick and choose what our values lie in. We’re talking more about like consumer ethics in terms of, you know, what do they value? What they value goes beyond just the quality of the product and the quality of the service it ties to, you know, like you were mentioning every aspect of, you know, the company’s leadership that they’re buying from, you know, where the products are being manufactured, what materials are being used, what kind of waste is that company generating?
00;07;29;08 – 00;08;00;07
And, you know, that brings up a lot of like the you know, like the ESG conversations. Do you think that any there’s any macro events in the past that have had an impact on the way that newer generations are reacting to different things? I like to take the saying, you know, work with yourself, not against yourself. So if there are things that you habitually do that are inevitable, you might as well figure out how to work those to your advantage, then try to eliminate that because it’s going to be a lot harder in today’s world, the power of the dollar and, you know, the consumers.
00;08;00;07 – 00;08;19;09
And that’s the inevitable. It’s here to stay and we’re not going to change that. So to leverage that to our benefit, the inevitable, let’s, you know, take our values of environmentalism and a better future and shift that to what we buy. And we’ve seen that companies have started to go green now, more green initiatives. And I don’t think that’s just a cash grab.
00;08;19;09 – 00;08;41;18
I think there’s genuine reason behind that. I think there are a lot of companies out there who genuinely want to make a better impact. But we’re we’re helping, we’re fixing and addressing our values by using the inevitable to our advantage. As time goes on, a lot of the upper level management and the executives of these companies are going to be the millennial and Gen Z generation.
00;08;42;01 – 00;09;05;29
So their values that they’ve had from that for a long time, and especially in terms of how they buy things, is going to translate into how they run their companies. Younger generations are almost demanding that companies get, you know, get on with those environmental initiatives or else they’ve kind of taken a stance against them. As you had mentioned, that you had worked with someone that was starting to roll out more a sustainable option in there.
00;09;06;03 – 00;09;28;03
And they’re just yeah, yeah, they’re getting rid of all their foam and they’re going to a more reusable type of packaging that’s biodegradable. And it’s just those little things helping that Green initiative and trying to drive their business forward into that. You know, new era to align with the generation that’s now the mass population of consumers, align their business with our values and needs.
00;09;28;03 – 00;09;53;07
And those changes, too, are going to create other industries, especially like, you know, we’re looking at biodegradable materials for packaging or even, you know, in the product itself, we don’t quite have those and, you know, at a large scale. But with that demand, you know, this is going to grow that industry quite a bit. So with all of these big changes happening, how are we helping our customers be better for their customers?
00;09;53;14 – 00;10;19;20
So a lot of that comes down to the sustainability aspect, the engineering side. We’re looking at the operation where the efficiencies had, where can we eliminate the waste, where can we make these certain operations safer, more efficient for their employees, and ultimately be able to deliver a better quality product and better quality service to their end user? It’s not just so much, you know, how can we reduce bottom line or anything like that?
It’show can we actually create some changes that are felt beyond just the four walls of that facility? We always have to be learning right? We’re not doing our job right. If we’re not learning, I’m not going to sit here and say that I know every single solution that’s on the market now. What’s going to be in ten years up to us to keep updating ourselves with that information so we can guide our clients to the right solution that’s fit for the time that they’re in nowadays.
When we enter into discussions with clients about what their next solution might be, there’s typically a little bit of a push or drive to get the conversation towards those newer era solutions like CVS, you know, picked Olay Robotics, things like that. It’s it’s understandable. There’s just not as many of these solutions on the market right now. And because of that, there’s not as much performance data for them to go off of.
And so naturally they’re going to want to see more upfront research to justify that investment. And I think in 10 to 15 years, if that those solutions that were once kind of a push to get to are going to be the starting block. Have you ever seen that where they want more of that research upfront? If it is something new, do you think that’s more trending because of the generation that they’re from?
There’s definitely a learning curve, but I think they’re also seeing that this is becoming more of the norm. Amrs vs Advanced Robotics for shuttle picks that’s becoming much more common. And how do you compete and how do you look at the benefits that that gives your employees? And how does that benefit your operations? In order to thrive in this market, especially an e-commerce market, that you do have to be able to deliver way beyond what, you know, the expectation is, especially with Amazon now with same day delivery, how do you compete with that?
Those type of things are what are driving a lot of these conversations. That’s a great segway into really looking at the future. What’s it going to be like when we’re in the senior aging population? Where is technology now and where do you think it’s going to go? My most favorite fun fact is that it was only 66 years between the Wright brothers, first cracking the physics of flight and Neil Armstrong stepping on them.
That means someone could have been born in 1895 when they were eight years old, saw the first plane take off, witness the space race, the invention of rocket propelled flight. And then when they were 74 years old, watch the moon landing. Yep. And it’s just insanity to think about, you know, in the course of one lifetime, we came that far.
Now, in today’s era, the technology race, you know, we are advancing every single day faster than the last. And I think that’s a recipe for something exciting. So I’m really eager to see what our next moon landing will be. Do you guys think that any of these advancements in technology are having a negative impact? We have for hours now, I there’s plenty of data to back up both sides, I think.
I mean, sure, I remember when I was a kid, I got the first you remember the leap pad that was like the first tap to touch technology and that was used for educational purposes. And it’s great. I think it’s evolved, you know, that that path of technology now kids are learning to code and sixth grade. Right. And I think that’s a very positive thing.
And then on the flip side, as I was saying earlier about having access to so much information, I think there is genuine conversation to be had of is that healthy for us? But it’s only going to get more advanced. And so we have to work with it. It’s ultimately going to come down to how quickly can we adapt to the changes that it’s going to present and how that translates into other aspects of the market and for how that impacts our customers as well.
I don’t think personally that we should think about technology as this dark cloud that looms over us. We have to all except that it totally has pushed us in such an amazing direction and improved so many aspects of life, livelihood. It’s helping create solutions for farming, for instance, urban areas. We have amazing transportation, health care and that access to all that information has helped us come up with, if not cures, a lot of research into diseases and illnesses that at one point in time were considered terminal and now we’re able to help people survive with this increased ability to communicate with anyone in the world.
We’re able to share points of views on how to solve a problem with other people across the world. It can be a little bit scary to see how fast we’re growing in terms of technology, but so far there have been tremendous benefits to society as a whole. Thank you, guys so much for joining us. Really great to have you guys.
I hope to see you guys back on the show sometime soon. Absolutely. Yeah. Far away. Yeah. There you go. Thanks, guys. Thank you.