If You Have Built It, They MIGHT Eventually Come

Born after the mid-1990s till early 2000s, Generation Z is the first “digitally native” group to grow up not knowing a world before cellphones, smartphones and other digital devices. But a National Retail Federation study found that 67% of Generation Z shops in a brick-and-mortar store most of the time with another 31% shopping in-store sometimes, indicating that 98% of Gen Z shops in store.

While the study lights a candle of hope, it also reminds retailers that nothing is a given. Retailers need to create more interactive engagement around their brands to serve this always-on, mobile-focused, high-spending demographic. Generation Z expects technology to be intuitive, relevant and engaging. This is a significant challenge for retailers and brands. Creating personalized, interactive experiences across the digital spectrum of platforms (mobile, social, etc.) is not a linear effort, it’s a new way of thinking, operating and connecting with customers.



Here’s some advice for those of you who are waiting for Gen Z:

  • Get to know your customer. Gen Z is going to be all about them. They want to know how creating a relationship with your brand and/or your offering is going to benefit them. Give your Gen Z customers at retail a reason/incentive to provide you with their email address. Be ready to engage immediately.
  • Build a real-time customer profile. Today’s new breed of customers will punish retailers who treat them like “first timers.” They expect your recommendations to be relevant to their experience with your brand. Without that context, you are most probably already losing customers and business.
  • Make shopping and buying easy. The more that you can do to provide a wide range of services that are customer friendly, the better job you will do in nurturing and keeping a customer. Study all the data at your disposal and look for trends and needs. Create initiatives that leverage this data to show your customer that you are going above and beyond in terms of connection and service. The more you can do to reduce consumer friction, the stronger your bond will be.
  • Home delivery rocks. Today’s young consumers wants to spend more of their time in leisure activity … sports, restaurants, etc., and they are more than willing to pay someone for services that solve for the need. Hence, the rise of the “subscription model.” If you aren’t engaging with your customers to construct such a program, you are leaving huge dollars on the table. 
  • Be sincerely courteous. Table stakes regarding customer service have gone up dramatically and with so much competition in the market, there is no room for poor customer service. Ask yourself if you would buy from you? 

Nothing really earth shattering about all this, just common sense. The components and steps of the purchasing patterns are changing now and for the generations ahead. Unless we all become engaging students of consumer behavior and media consumption, all that will be left of the buildings that once house retailing powerhouses will be the brick and little of the mortar. There is something to be learned each and every day from the new subscription companies.

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