1 October 2019

The Baby-Boomers, the GenX and the Millenials have all been the subject of many articles and studies that analysed and compared their preferences, their expectations and their needs. Now, the next generation of shoppers is already active and for retailers, it may represent the biggest challenge yet. When looking at Generation Z, or people born roughly between 1995 and 2010, we immediately see that they are very different from their predecessors.  But instead of the usual “us against them” perspective, let’s look further and analyse the context around their life to better understand who they are.

First, they have not experienced life without the Internet. They most probably have never used a land line and most of them don’t know what a fax machine is. They also do not watch much live TV or read traditional newspapers or magazines. Instead, they receive their news through curated newsfeeds and posts from their peers on their favourite social media platform. They don’t call their friends that much either. They prefer using text messages and tagging them on social media.

It is almost as if their life happens in two places at the same time: in their direct physical surrounding and online. For Gen Z though, social media is not virtual or artificial. It is part of reality and it is actually how they communicate with everything, from their friends to the rest of the world, even brands and stores.

On the other hand, these connected young people tend to be more aware of today’s problems and issues than previous generations. We can see how engaged they are and they expect companies to follow suit and be socially responsible and transparent2. They take brand values into serious consideration as they like their purchase to have an impact beyond their personal satisfaction. For them, solutions are around the corner and everyone should do its part to make the world a better place.

Secondly, their relationship with money is also different. They are risk-averse and cautious spenders, which is why they strive for shopping experiences that offer extra value for their money.

Moreover, they relish customizable options and items tailor-made to their tastes. As skilled omni-channel shoppers, they compare prices and hunt deals on their smartphones while shopping in physical stores. While we could think the Generation Z are mostly buying online, they in fact like visiting shopping malls. A recent study found that 76% of them believe that a physical store provides better experience3.

Retailers who wish to please Gen Z can integrate some of the following solutions:

  • Reach them on platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube for advertising and other communications. Social media is where they develop their brand preferences, often through their favourite influencers.
  • Make sure to have a physical presence, whether a pop-up shop in a mall or a full brick and mortar store. That will help you offer a complete experience.
  • Welcome phone-in-hand shopping, going as far as providing specific Instagram setups in store and rewarding shoppers who promote the brand on social media.
  • Try to offer a way to customize your products or the shopping experience.

Offline and online shopping should be devoid of boundaries. Both channels should be fully integrated and offer free and fast delivery and easy returns. Gen Zers also like to be able to review your products and leave customer feedback for other shoppers.

Generation Z will be a large part of your customers for the next 50 years. Are you ready for them?

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