Inside the Gen Z Mind

Keeping pace with behaviors that will shape the future of marketing

US Consumer Survey and Insights


Table of Contents

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    Snipp conducted this survey with the goal of better understanding the American “Gen Z” or “Zoomer” generation’s consumer behaviors and preferences. The survey confirms certain established behaviors including high levels of social media and digital engagement, but also reveals surprising insights about their brand loyalty, store shopping preferences and their take-charge approach to product research and discovery.


    Executive Summary - Inside the Gen Z Mind

    Born between 2010 and 1996 with a median age of 19, these connected from the cradle, social media mavens are rapidly approaching adulthood to become a rising economic force. Representing 40% of the U.S population, generation Z will be 30% of the global workforce by 2030 with an estimated buying power of $360 billion in disposable income. Our survey was designed to help marketers understand what drives this fascinating but fickle generation, how they fill their time, consume media, spend their dollars, and what, beyond TikTok, makes them tick.

    Today’s tweens, teens and young adults are tomorrow's high value consumers - they are more informed, self-sufficient and driven by exacting demands and preferences like no other generation”, said Tom Treanor, CMO of Snipp Interactive. “Our latest research shows that this generation requires nimble and creative marketing strategies from CPG brands and retailers to stay ahead of their evolving definition of value as they rapidly move from childhood to adulthood, gaining wealth, influence and purchasing power along the way”.


    Highlights of findings revealed in the survey include:

    • Gen Z women and men favor different sources for both news and product discovery (see Question 1 & 2)
    • Gen Z buys everyday spend items (like food, cleaning or personal care products) in-store. They buy electronics and apparel both online and in-store. (Question 3) Apparel, Cosmetics, Electronics/Computer Equipment and Footwear are categories most impacted by influencers. (Question 5)
    • Gen Z is more positive than negative on the state of the U.S. Economy (Question 7)
    • Quality and pricing trump environmental considerations, brand personality and other factors for their favorite brands (Question 11)
    • Gen Z’s report higher levels of loyalty when faced with out of stock situations than other generations (Question 13)
    • Almost half (49.8%) of survey respondents are more likely to buy when presented with a deal (Question 16)

    The survey results reveal new insights into the Gen Z psyche that will impact how you approach marketing to remain relevant. So read on to learn more! Or Download the full report here.

    Gen Z Banner Survey Results

    Q1. News about world events

    TikTok is the go-to news source for women, YouTube for men

    Snipp Gen Z Consumer Survey Q1


    With world events happening at a time when content creators and citizen journalists often beat news outlets to the punch, it's easy to see why the major platforms have captured Gen Z’s attention when it comes to digesting the latest news. In 2022, the three most downloaded apps were TikTok, Instagram and Facebook, with TikTok generating a staggering $821 million in consumer spending in the last-quarter and with an average use time of 95 minutes per day. A full quarter of TikTok’s U.S. users are aged 10-19 quite possibly to the chagrin of some Gen Z’s parents as it’s reported that 34% of adults have an unfavorable opinion of TikTok.

    Whether TikTok is ultimately banned or continues with regulation, eMarketer predicts it will reach almost 90 million U.S. users in 2023, representing a formidable marketing channel for grabbing the notoriously short attention spans of Gen Z audiences. Even well established news publishers like the New York Times and Wall St Journal have recently launched TikTok accounts hoping to capture the attention of this steadily maturing demographic as over one-third (36%) of Gen Z adults and Millennials said they pay for at least one online news subscription.

    In 2020, Pew Research conducted a survey that found that 26% of all U.S. adults say they get news on YouTube, while relatively few claim it to be their primary news source. They found that of the 377 most popular YouTube news channels, 49% are largely a mix of established news organizations like CNN (13.7M subs), Telemundo (5.7M subs), Inside Edition (10.5M subs) and Fox News (9.4M subs), with the remainder being independent news outlets (42%) or individual personalities.


    Q2. Brand and Product Discovery

    Brand and product discovery mirrors news consumption.

    Gen Z’s product discovery behavior virtually mirrors that of their news consumption with TikTok being their first destination for women (56.1%) and YouTube (44.6%) being the first choice for men.

    Snipp Gen Z Consumer Survey Q2


    Having been seemingly born with the latest smartphones, ubiquitous internet, and multiple social media platform options, these digital natives are used to buying from brands that have transparent values, are inclusive, and have created strong online communities. As brands look for ways to establish more personal connections with their customers, they are leveraging social media as a channel to forge deeper relationships with Gen Z consumers.

    TikTok's Global Retail Path to Purchase report, released in June 2022, reveals that 49% of its users discover new products through content created directly by brands, creators, and other TikTok users. And at least 37% bought products promoted on TikTok soon after discovering them. Also, TikTok has the highest social media engagement rate per post, Nielsen data reveals that TikTok influencers bring an engagement rate of 20% compared to Instagram's 6.15% and YouTube's 5.22%. Having the highest engagement rate makes TikTok a more efficient channel for brands to reach a broader audience and increase awareness and sales.


    Q3. Online vs. In-store Purchasing

    Gen Z buys everyday spend items (like food, cleaning or personal care products) in-store. They buy electronics and apparel both online and in-store.

    Survey respondents indicate a strong preference for shopping in-store for food (73.8%), cleaning products (70.4%) and personal care items (54.6%). Conversely, they prefer to purchase electronics almost equally between mostly in-store (33.4%) and mostly online (32.8%). Apparel retailers grab both online and offline shopping behaviors with 41% of respondents claiming a mix of online and in-store purchasing.

    Snipp Gen Z Consumer Survey Q3


    According to a 2020 FMI report, Gen Z households spend an average of $760 on food each month, with $550 (72%) of the total spending going towards groceries. As a comparison, Millennial households spend $874 on average on food, with $615 (70%) going to groceries.

    On average, both generations shop at a grocery store three times per week. The survey also found that Gen Z and Millennial consumers enjoy shopping in-store. Many are motivated by the desire to choose their own produce, meat, and seafood. 71% of respondents rated making their own choices as their favorite part of in-store grocery shopping. Shoppers also liked the opportunity to discover new products (56%) and enjoyed the overall experience offered by in-store retailers (41%).  Regarding electronic purchasing, one recent study revealed Gen Z’s are open to new brands except for personal electronics where they are clearly loyal to Apple. Zoomer’s iPhone favorability is 71% versus 59% for the general population with near inverse number for Samsung at 63% and 74% respectively.


    Q4. Product Research before Purchase

    Gen Z prefers to do their own research.

    Gen Z’s rely on online reviews and ratings the most (67.4%) followed by their own research (62.2%), far outstripping friends' opinions (34.4%) and influencers’ opinions (18.2%). Their pragmatic, think for yourself attitude is reflected in their potential mistrust of salespeople whom only 11% of respondents rely on for pre-purchase research. While influencers are rated lower, they still represent one important channel for research, in addition to building up product content, images and videos, and driving reviews and ratings.

    Snipp Gen Z Consumer Survey Q4


    According to a 2018 Gen Z study, 68% of Gen Z consumers read or watch at least three reviews before a first-time purchase. 16% will read or watch nine or more ratings and reviews before they make a first purchase. Their preference for people over marketers for product research is consistent with their interest in gathering information for themselves using the digital tools they have grown up with. User-generated ratings provide a form of social proof and third party validation that retailers and brands can’t offer to Gen Z directly. McKinsey reports that 95% of units purchased in the highest-selling product categories had a 3.5 star rating or higher.


    Q5. Influencer Impact on Purchases

    Influencers are key in driving product awareness and consideration for certain categories of product.

    Approximately 18% of respondents rely on influencers as one channel for product discovery. Female survey respondents leaned heavily into influencers’ advice on Cosmetics (44%), Apparel (42%), Health and Beauty (42%), Jewelry (24%), Music (22%), Food and Beverage (22%), and Travel (20%). Males rely on influencers for Electronics an Computer Equipment (41%), Footwear (32%), Apparel (29%), Food and Beverage (29%), Music (27%), Jewelry (27%), and Health and Beauty (12%).

    Snipp Gen Z Consumer Survey Q5


    Growing up with pandemic lockdowns, virtual learning, and routine security drills at school has impacted Gen Z, causing them to be more pragmatic and possibly more grounded about the people around them, including who they choose to look up to and receive advice from. Celebrity culture from the past seems to have been replaced with the authenticity of the ‘real life’ worlds of influencers - real people with real lives where everyone and anyone can be a star content creator (although arguably a large portion of some influencers’ on-screen lives are staged). Brands have applied varying strategies to using influencer marketing to drive sales. For example, H&M’s first attempts at influencer marketing had them hiring 25-50 creators, rotating them in and out every month. Although this built public awareness quickly, it didn’t resonate with audiences looking for more authentic connections. Pivoting into hiring 20 specific influencers for year-long partnerships gave their followers a chance to get to know their creators who in turn elevated H&M’s brand and product attributes more directly to drive sales.

    Classic boat shoe maker Sperry took a more inclusive approach to influencer marketing leveraging its embedded audience of 300,000 followers to create user-generated content that Sperry curated and reposted to foster a community of like-minded seafaring outdoor enthusiasts.


    Q6. Favorite Influencers

    Snipp Gen Z Consumer Survey Q6

    Others mentioned include Addison Rae, Arden Rose, Ari Fletcher, Ariana Grande, Beauty by Jenny, Cardi B, Charlie Kim, Dixie Damelio, Harry Stiles, Jessie James West, Keith Lee, Linus Tech, Lil Baby, Lizzo, Logan Paul, Nessa Barrett, Rihanna, Sofia Naigard, TD Barnet, Will Smith xQc and YouRage. Based on a recent survey of more than 3500 marketing agencies and brands, 67% of respondents plan to increase their influencer marketing budgets over the next 12 months with nearly (63%) reporting standalone budgets for content marketing.  According to data from Statista, approximately 84% of all Instagram social media influencers are women compared to 16% who are men. These influencers clearly reach a substantial audience of consumers, but there is an argument for investing in niche or micro-influencers that align with a brand’s values (and budget). Growing with smaller influencers that have a strong tie to their communities can be one approach to getting exposure and engagement from the right Gen Z audience.


    Q7. Optimism about the US Economy

    More positive than negative on the U.S. economy

    Gen Z is, on balance, more positive than negative about the future of the U.S. economy with 39.6% of respondents very or cautiously optimistic, while 31.4% are slightly or very pessimistic. 29% of respondents are neutral.

    Snipp Gen Z Consumer Survey Q7


    At a young age, Gen Z  has been through economic downturns, a housing crisis, and global outbreaks. Yet a slight majority of respondents are optimistic about the economy. How does this affect their work ethic?  According to a recent McKinsey survey, slightly more than half of the 18- to 24-year-olds surveyed were employed, but 25% work multiple jobs compared to 16% of all workers. 45% were concerned about the stability of their jobs compared to 40% of everyone surveyed. They reported that they are less likely than other respondents to be able to cover living expenses for more than two months if faced with a job loss.


    Q8. Time Spent on Activities

    Spending more time streaming, less time going out.

    Survey respondents are spending more time listening to streaming music (52.4%), cooking at home (47.6%), watching streaming videos (45.0%), engaging in social media (44.6%), and working out at home or in a gym (41.8%), compared to a year ago. Respondents are spending less time traveling (33.3%), going out to events (32.7%), playing sports (31.7%) and watching traditional TV (31.2%).

    Snipp Gen Z Consumer Survey Q8


    A shift to spending more time at home and on their devices streaming videos and music creates opportunities for marketers to leverage the latest developments in audience targeting via advanced TV and streaming platforms. According to a March 22 survey, 96% of Gen Z’s said they subscribe to at least one streaming TV service, and 39% said they subscribe to three or four different services.


    Q9. Spending by Category

    Significant spending on groceries, restaurants and entertainment.

    Food and drinks from grocery stores captured the largest share of responses from the group (65.8%) followed by food and drinks at restaurants or bars (33%), entertainment (22%) was their third highest spending category.

    Snipp Gen Z Consumer Survey Q9


    Question 3 revealed Gen Z’s preference for buying grocery, cleaning, and health and beauty items in-store. Marketers will need to consider their on and offline strategies to not only drive traffic to their stores but to merchandise accordingly.  Retailers that invest in brands that feature more sustainable packaging, supporting smaller, more local or better-for-you ingredients and exhibit a sense of authenticity and transparency will help align their values with Gen Z and drive share. Also, generally ramping up a retailer's digital footprint to create end-to-end experiences will help engage these consumers and drive share via mobile apps, product reviews, and even leveraging augmented reality enabled marketing tech to assist with in-store navigation and to deliver AR-enabled consumer promotions.


    Q10. Form of Payment Preferences

    The Debit Card is King.

    Debit cards are Gen Z’s preferred payment method (67.4%) followed by Cash (46.4%) with Paypal being the most popular app-based payment form.

    Snipp Gen Z Consumer Survey Q10


    Gen Z’s have a greater penchant to use debit cards and cash than older populations and a much lower tendency to use credit cards, at least for now. Considering their inclination to adopt new technologies, we can expect alternative payment methods to gain wider adoption as online and in-store merchants make them more widely available. Additionally, as this generation becomes more financially stable and thus more credit-worthy, we can expect an increase in credit card use and installment payments like Klarna to gain acceptance.

    Online and retail merchants should be ready with the most relevant forms of payment to cater to the next generation of buyers. A recent study revealed that 51% of Millennials and 48% of Gen Z’s will abandon making a purchase if their preferred payment method isn’t available.


    Q11. Most Important Brand Characteristics

    Gen Z seeks high quality and fair pricing.

    Respondents ranked high quality (56%) and reasonable prices (55.6%) at a significantly higher rate than other less practical, softer brand attributes like projecting a fun brand style (15.2%), using environmentally sustainable products/packaging (11.2%) or used by a favorite influencer (4.2%).


    Snipp Gen Z Consumer Survey Q11


    There have been countless articles published about Gen Z’s placing importance on brands having a positive social impact and being earth friendly. A November 2021 survey from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania on sustainability found that the majority of respondents across every generation continue to consider sustainable packaging as important - even over brand name. However, between 2019 and 2021, only Gen Z reported a lower preference (62% in 2019 and 55% in 2021) to buy from sustainable brands. Could recent economic realities be impacting this shift in attitudes or has this somewhat skeptical group seen too many brands not living up to their expectations of what sustainability really means? Greenwashing practices (when an organization makes misleading claims about being environmentally friendly) from brands have been entering the news cycle more frequently. These mindful and environmentally vigilant consumers could see through disingenuous marketing practices, honing in on brands they feel are actually living up to their brand promise and stated commitments.

    Undoubtedly, purchasing from brands that deliver a high quality product at a reasonable price is Gen Z’s highest priority. But brands will also need to be honest and transparent in their claims about health benefits, environmental impact and customer service to come face-to-face with the scrutiny of these informed and committed consumers.


    Q12. Shopping Frequency

    Over half of Gen Z’s are frequent buyers.

    Gen Z’s are actively making purchases with 54.6% indicating they buy either online or in-store 2-5 times per week.


    Snipp Gen Z Consumer Survey Q12


    Zoomers are actively making purchases and integrating spending into their everyday lives, whether that be in-store or online, via social media, or directly on branded apps.

    One surprising finding from CivicScience reveals that 14-18 year-olds are more likely than any other age group to holiday shop at malls, with 25% indicating they are very likely to to visit, 38% are somewhat likely. Malls may seem like retailing’s dinosaur, however they could provide a comfortable venue for Gen Z to reconnect with friends post lockdown, socialize and shop. Focusing on promotions to bring Zoomers in-store could be a winning tactic with this generation.


    Q13. Out of Stock Purchasing

    Gen Z consumers are surprisingly loyal.

    Compared to a survey audience of all ages 25 years and above polled in our most recent survey, Inflation and the Ever Evolving Shopper Dec 2022, Gen Z’s report higher levels of loyalty when faced with out of stock situations, opting not to choose similar items from a different brand at significantly lower rate and meanwhile waiting until the brand they like is back in stock.



    Snipp Gen Z Consumer Survey Q13

    Note: GenZ data above is from the current survey; Ages 25+ data for comparison is from Inflation and the Ever Evolving Shopper survey, Dec 2022


    Gen Z’s reputation for being highly informed, fickle consumers might hold water. However it appears that when they find brands that represent value they are surprisingly loyal. This data is reinforced by the previous question, which clearly illustrates that the Gen Z value equation is quality products at reasonable prices. Since most marketers agree that it's significantly more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to retain existing buyers, brands looking to chase this evolving demographic should consider how best to retain their current customers knowing they will be rewarded with a higher share at checkout.


    Q14. Offer and Deal Impact on Purchasing

    Deals drive sales.

    Almost half (49.8%) of survey respondents claimed that they would be more likely to buy from a favorite retailer or brand versus a competitor when presented with a deal.

    Snipp Gen Z Consumer Survey Q14


    Considering Gen Z’s digital-first approach to brand and retailer engagement, marketers who create innovative solutions to deliver rewards and loyalty points via mobile apps, and even through influencers focused on savings at their favorite grocery stores.  Influencer Diane Youngpeter is a stay-at-home mom who runs an Aldi fan group with nearly 500K followers. An Instagram account called Costco_doesitagain has 1 million followers and helps followers grab the best Costco finds, and a website and Facebook page called Kroger Krazy with 600K followers features a steady stream of deals on manufacturer and Kroger branded items.

    An ‘all channels, everywhere, all the time’ shopping ethos has emboldened these self-directed deal seekers to get what they want, when they want it, at the price they want to pay. To capture Gen Z’s loyalty marketers need to reward their shoppers with the right mix that’s reflective of their unique demands. In a recent study (from YPulse) the top factors for a rewards program were

    1. Getting specific discount codes and coupons (62%)
    2. Earning points that I can use for other things (61%)
    3. Getting a flat discount on all purchases (60%)
    4. Getting free stuff (58%).

    Also, 31% of young people said they would stay loyal to a brand that gives them free things.


    Q15. Offer and Deal Type Preferences

    Prefer simple deals and offers.

    Saving time and getting the most value for their dollar seems to be a top motivator for Gen Z, with Buy one, get one free (BOGO) being their most favored type of offer (58.2%) followed by Coupons (37.6%) and Loyalty Points (28.4%).


    Snipp Gen Z Consumer Survey Q15


    Omnichannel shoppers are also omnichannel savers, whose preference of offer and deal type fluctuates depending on how and where they shop. Fluidity between shopping online and in-store creates opportunities for marketers to deliver value to Gen Z in multiple formats including the methods listed above.  Buy one, get one free offers are a stalwart tactic to increase buy rates in-store. The frictionless simplicity of this type of promotion goes a long way for competitive brands looking to differentiate themselves at the shelf and increase consumption. Gen Z’s interest in BOGO’S is consistent with their straightforward and practical approach to seeking savings and yet they are not immune to other savings opportunities.

    Digital offers and rebates have been steadily growing in popularity over the last decade. One of America’s largest grocery chains, Kroger recently announced record-breaking use of digital coupons over the course of last year and, including both digital and physical coupons, their consumers redeemed more than $1.4 billion dollars of value. Personalization of offers that help shoppers save time and money, and delivering deals on the products that are most important to individual shoppers, rewarded Kroger with their trust and loyalty. 66% of Gen Z consumers surveyed by Oracle reported they wanted to receive personalized recommendations through an app while they were browsing in-store.


    Q16. Offer and Deal Notification Preferences

    Email is still an effective communication tool.

    Survey Respondents reported Emails (51.6%) to be their favored communication channel for deals and savings followed by Texts (38.2%) and Social Media Posts (32%).

    Snipp Gen Z Consumer Survey Q16


    Deals and sales can shorten the path to purchase for Gen Z’s. According to a Holiday 2022 study, (from SimplicityDX) 28% of Zoomers consider discounts and promo codes to be a key purchase driver, compared to 26% who are more influenced by the shopping experience, and 15% who pay more attention to social media views and likes.

    Based on these findings, marketers shouldn’t abandon efforts to collect email data from Gen Z’s. Meanwhile investments in Consumer Engagement Platforms that include SMS capabilities will help get shoppers closer to the point of purchase and drive in-store conversions. See our 2023 Shopper Marketing Technology Landscape for Consumer Engagement Platform vendors and other tech innovators.


    Q17. Which brands are you loyal to and why?

    Nike was by far the most popular brand among the respondents representing 13% of all mentions followed by Walmart (5%), Amazon, apparel brand Shein, Apple (both 4%), Adidas (3%), Target, Jordan, apparel brand Aerie, skin care brand Cerave (all 2%), followed by a long list that included e.l.f. Cosmetics, Sony Ulta, Samsung and Starbucks.

    Several grocery retailers including HEB, Giant, Kroger, Trader Joe’s, Food Lion, Costco, BJ’s and Aldi were mentioned and also respondents mentioned CPG brands including Kellogg’s, Coca-Cola, Hershey’s Doritos, Cheetos, Kraft, Amy’s Kitchen, Totino’s, Hidden Valley, Monster Energy, Kroger’s Simple Truth, and Walmart’s Great Value private label brand.

    Other health and beauty brands mentioned included Cerave with the highest mentions (2%) e.l.f. Cosmetics (1%) Fenty Beauty, Neutrogena, Maybelline, Burt’s Bees, Cetaphil, Ponds, Dove, L’Oreal, Rare Beauty, Clinique, Aveeno and also beauty retailers Ulta, Bath & Body Works and Sephora.

    Snipp Gen Z Consumer Survey Q17

    Surprisingly, only one adult beverage brand was mentioned, Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Many other apparel brands were mentioned including Ralph Lauren, Victoria’s Secret, Hollister, American Eagle, Levi’s, Gap, Old Navy, Anthopologie and H&M.

    Gen Z Banner Survey Methodology

    This survey was run in March 2023. Five hundred U.S.-based 16 to 26 year-olds were questioned via an online survey.

    Snipp is the producer of the “Inside the Gen Z Mind” survey. For press or sales inquiries visit us at https://www.snipp.com/contact-us.

    Download the full report here

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