Commentary

Youngest Generation Growing Up Fast

According to a new report from RetailDIVE, by author Care Salpini, while targeting each generation is a must for most retailers, there's one (generational) group in particular that's bound to draw a marketer's attention: Gen Z

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Though that class of digital and social natives is still a developing consumer group, it's one that retailers have become particularly interested in. While older members of Gen Z (roughly the 16-22 year-olds) are a retailer's primary focus right now, the younger ones are maturing quickly and, by some measures, they're already ready to interact with brands.

Katherine Cullen, director of consumer research at the National Retail Federation, told Retail Dive "… while Gen Zers may not hold the purse strings… or control the money that they're using … expected to have input… and they do have input… "

Ways to reach out to GenZ during the holidays, says the report:

Tell a story

According to Jared Blank, senior vice president of data and insights at Bluecore, the holidays are a perfect time to reach out to the group with a well thought-out story, whether on social media or otherwise.

Blank says, "Brands historically have invested more in storytelling and an emotional connection and visuals during the holidays… that's the kind of thing that appeals to this generation, who are used to a very visual conversation on Snapchat and instagram…"

Having grown up with social media platforms, most GenZ’ers are used to visual forms of storytelling from brands, and they prefer it. According to the NRF's holiday planning playbook, the younger generation turns to platforms that have a serious impact on their buying when looking for gift inspiration. GenZ’ers are more influenced by social media than they are by discounts, and 80% of the generation is influenced by social media when making purchases, says the report:

Serious Impact Platforms For Younger Gen Z’ers

Favored Platforms

% of Respondents

TV

46%

Instagram

44%

Facebook

39%

Pinterest

30%

and email

19%

Source: RetailDIVE, November 2017

Sara Spivey,Chief Marketing Officer at Bazaarvoice, points out that, when developing a story, retailers should be careful to select something that not only resonates with the brand's image, but also comes off as authentic, honest and mature.

Spivey stresses the importance of acting more human around these shoppers instead of pushing sales promotions down their throats … it's more a matter of retailers and brands… (being) invited in as opposed to brands or retailers trying to crash the party… trying to over-hype something is not going to be well-received… it creates a level of distrust… the more you can be authentic and vulnerable as a brand or a retailer, the more they're going to identify with you… “

Promote unique, personalized gift options

In the heyday of department store retailers, it was a strength to be the one-stop shop for holiday gift giving. Nowadays consumers are increasingly interested in making sure their presents are as unique and as personal as possible. That's especially true for GenZ , says the report. A study by Yes Lifecycle Marketing found that 35% of the generation look for personalized gifts when they're buying for others.

Thus, as retailers focus on marketing to the young group, they should emphasize gift-giving guides and other more personalized forms of marketing, says the report. For instance, "this is a place to buy a gift for your mom specifically rather than being a one-stop shop… being involved in product development, being involved in the dialogue, (or) being involved in creation, is something that really strikes a chord with GenZ…"says Sara Spivey.

Use the right medium

Gen Z is at an awkward age as a consumer base: some are old enough to be making purchases for themselves, but the majority are reliant on their parent's generosity to pay for something that costs more than a couple of dollars, says the report.

Regardless of whether a retailer chooses to involve the parents, social media and mobile are key for this group, especially considering that they convert on mobile twice as much as other generations, and that the spread of Instagram users whose purchase decisions are influenced by the platform trends younger.

Jared Blanksays that"…the wish list as it's been built for 15 years is not engaging… it's very web 1.0…  they are… more likely to identify with someone who is kind of in their age group, [who] is, they think, representative of how they think and feel…”

Gen Z’ers are also drawn to platforms that provide video content, according to Cullen, providing another opportunity for retailers to reach out. Cullen said "…this is a generation that seems to really like video content… creating video content themselves… or looking to video for inspiration…”

Spivey concludes by noting that “…there's an argument to be made for the very young age of GenZ,, that mobile as a platform is going to shift to voice activation and natural language processing as a platform… and it's happening pretty quickly…"

Ongoing coverage of the 2017 holiday shopping season by RetailDIVE may be found here.

 

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