Centennials (aka Generation Z) are the first mobile native generation. They don’t remember a time when a connected world wasn’t at their fingertips. And this has impacted their consumption habits as well as their expectations.

We recently surveyed more than 1,000 Centennial consumers (age 13-18) to better understand how they browse for and purchase products. One key finding from the survey is that Centennials want to ask questions about the products they’re considering — and they want quick answers. Read on to learn how Generation Z wants to get their questions answered, as well as 3 tips for brands and retailers to better connect with Centennials through a Question & Answer solution.

Generation Z Expects Instant Answers
Twenty-four-hour access to technology has made modern consumers impatient when it comes to wanting answers. And if they can’t get the information they need from retailers and brands immediately, they’ll turn to a competitor that readily provides this information. In fact, a huge 79% of Centennials admitted going straight to another retailer or to Amazon if they couldn’t ask a question on a product page.

In addition, as well as reviews, nearly half (45%) of Centennials said they wouldn’t buy a product if they couldn’t ask a question about it.

Centennials Want to Hear from Other Shoppers
the survey found that Centennials want to engage with retailers directly on their website and expect one-to-one attention. But while Q&A on brand and retailer websites are important, nearly two thirds of Centennials prefer having their questions answered by previous customers rather than the retailer.

3 Tips for Engaging With Shoppers Through Q&A
If Centennials can’t get answers to questions about the products they’re considering (preferably from other consumers who have experienced the product firsthand), they won’t hesitate to look elsewhere for this information. For brands and retailers, this means thinking about how you can facilitate a communication exchange between new and existing customers. Here are three tips for brands and retailers to better answer their customers’ questions.

Implement a Q&A solution. Adding a Q&A solution to your website is a great way to increase conversion. In addition to answering purchase blocking questions that can stand in the way of a purchase, the questions submitted by your customers become a living Q&A that future shoppers can consult to find answers to their questions so they’re not tempted to look elsewhere to find the information they need. In addition, Q&A can help you uncover insights about your products and the customer experience. For example, Room & Board noticed that their bedroom category was generating the highest number of customer questions — up to 60 questions per item. They noticed similar themes in the questions that were being submitted and saw this as an opportunity to add additional data points and images to their product pages. As soon as they made these updates, Room & Board immediately noticed the number of questions posted in this category decreased.

Respond quickly. Centennials have questions. And they want answers…quickly. If you make them wait too long to get their questions answered, they’ll move on to another brand or retailer that will quickly provide them with the information they need. A best practices is to answer all submitted questions within 24 hours, but the quicker you answer, the less likely the shopper will turn to a competitor’s site. SKECHERS, a leading global brand in the lifestyle footwear industry, uses intelligent routing queues to push questions to the most qualified sources. In less than 3 hours, customers receive the answer to their question in a followup email with a link to the product page, and SKECHERS has experienced a 51% conversion rate from these answer notification emails.

Use multiple answer sources. Centennials don’t just want to hear from brands and retailers. They also want the opportunity to get their questions answered by other consumers like them who have purchased and used a product. For example, in addition to having your internal and customer support teams handle any questions that come in through your Q&A tool, PowerReviews offers two additional answer sources: the On-Demand Answer Community and Ask a Product Owner. Using these multiple answer sources reduces the burden on your internal team, and also allows shoppers to hear from other consumers like them.

Centennials already have $44 million in annual spending power. And this number will continue to grow as this generation comes of age. Now is the time for brands and retailers to better understand the purchase preferences of the next generation of shoppers and adjust their strategy accordingly.