There are different ways shared mobility can begin adapting to the needs of Generation Z. We hear from shared mobility experts Catherine Kargas, Hauke Feldvoss, Sandra Phillips, and Alexander Gmelin.
In the article The Future of Mobility is with the Next Generation, we talked about the impact Generation Z’s preferences will have on shared mobility services. Their desire for individuality, responsiveness, and value will force shared mobility operators to adopt their service to meet this demand.
Fortunately, operators and other players in the shared mobility space have the opportunity to proactively shape the way Generation Z perceives new mobility options. Now is the time to identify what can be done to prevent their reliance on personal vehicles and instead appreciate the wide range of alternative transportation options available to them.
Figuring out how to achieve the goal of shared mobility adoption is not an easy feat. Consumer behaviour is complex, and the shared mobility industry is constantly changing and growing. To get a better understanding of how we can bridge the gap between Generation Z and shared mobility, we consulted experts in the industry for their insights.
The Need to Educate
We agree with Catherine Kargas when she says “education is a key part of getting any group to change behaviours.” As Chair of Electric Mobility Canada, Kargas has first-hand experience getting people to understand, accept, and adopt electric transportation options. With shared mobility, potential users need to know what the benefit is to them before it becomes their go-to mobility solution.
Specifically with Generation Z, education needs to be conducted on channels they are active on daily. Kargas recommends much of the focus should be on social media, given how the younger people are constantly checking these platforms. The challenge here is that the messages need to be visual, engaging, and relevant.
Kargas suggests “turning shared mobility into a value-driven, lifestyle option” to get Generation Z on board with this concept. Instead of solely focusing on the general benefits of shared mobility, a more effective message would also include the experience it can enable. For example, highlighting how peer-to-peer carsharing can get make a weekend trip possible and how scooter sharing can give you more freedom during lunch break.
However the message is crafted, it is important to illustrate the value of shared mobility and its tangible benefits to Generation Z even before they learn how to drive. Education will play a strong role in building up the adoption of shared mobility with today’s youth.
Historically, newly-licensed drivers have faced resistance when trying to share or rent a vehicle. Hauke Feldvoss, co-founder of emmy, a Berlin-based scooter sharing service, understands the concerns operators may have with allowing inexperienced drivers to use their fleet. As a start-up, they needed to minimize their business risk; higher insurance premiums and increased payment issues were not in line with meeting their fast-growth goals.
However, creative approaches to these risks may help remove these barriers, Feldvoss advises. With technology’s growing capabilities, one could program the scooter to only reach a certain speed for new drivers, and also make the scooter gradually accelerate in speed. By minimizing opportunities for reckless driving, it is possible insurance premiums could be managed.
In addition, many shared mobility services only take credit cards as a payment option, leaving out those who prefer to use bank cards. Because payment defaults are a concern with bank cards, one solution is to offer pre-paid credit to use towards future trips. This is an option that would receive positive feedback, especially from emmy members who have requested this as well.
Even if shared mobility services are not accessible to Generation Z yet, operators can build up a prominent, physical brand presence until then. emmy’s diligence to maintenance keeps the scooters clean and acts as a showcase to current and future members. As the scooter sharing service grows, the presence of red and white scooters will further ingrain them as a viable option for trips around the city.
Once Generation Z becomes of age to use shared mobility services, operators will need to make sure their customer retention efforts exceed user expectations. Specifically, Sandra Phillips, Founder of movmi Shared Transportation Services, predicts customer service will be key to winning Generation Z adoption.
As a generation that has grown up with on-demand services like Spotify and Amazon Prime, these individuals will expect access to mobility right when need it. Phillips cautions that “Generation Z will likely be the least patient generation of consumers we know,” which has implications on the level of customer support that must be provided.
Support through programmed phone lines or emailing support inquiries won’t be enough to retain these consumers if they have an issue with the service. Even online chat platforms may be inconvenient since most are limited to business hours.
Instead, operators need to be proactive in identifying potential issues before they even occur. Automated tools that can tailor the frequency of reminders for an expired credit card based on user segment will help provide a hassle-free experience for Generation Z. Phillips says there is always room to improve customer service, and it will be even more critical with the next generation.
People typically opt for private vehicles when their needs cannot be met by other means, whether that be walking, public transit, or current shared mobility options. Alexander Gmelin, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at INVERS GmbH, believes shared mobility still has room for growth and can further displace the need for private vehicles.
He points out that in places like China, not owning a car is the norm. While this is the case for numerous reasons, “the fact that owning a car is a hassle makes shared mobility more attractive.” From a different perspective, Gmelin adds “shared mobility is on its way to becoming so attractive as a transportation option that vehicle ownership will seem inconvenient.”
Globally over the past few years, shared mobility has grown in all directions – carsharing services have entered new markets and existing markets have welcomed new forms of bikesharing, for example. The pace of growth has even left some city regulators struggling to create by-laws to manage these new transportation options, but it has also highlighted the strong demand for shared mobility services.
Encouraged by future opportunities in shared mobility, Gmelin is confident the variety of options that will be available to Generation Z will steer them away from vehicle ownership. With the help of advancing technology, new operating models could be possible as well.
As Generation Z becomes of-age to begin using shared mobility services, it will be important to observe their behaviours and adapt any insights that will impact how the rest of the generation uses shared mobility. In the meantime, we encourage both current and future operators to continue growing their shared mobility services, and be ready for when this new cohort of drivers explore these new options.