Commentary

Gen Z's Retail Eye: They Love Brick-And-Mortar Shopping

One thing all members of Generation Z have in common: None has lived in a world without the internet or mobile phones. Given that they expect ready access to the web via the machines in their pockets, you might think that Gen Z is poised to turbo-charge ecommerce. But recent studies show that while their smartphones keep them very well informed, they’re are not keeping Gen Z out of brick-and-mortar stores.

Gen Z loves this kind of shopping. Keep in mind that part of this demo does not have credit cards -- but even without, Gen Z has a collective spending power of $44 billion a year. Imagine the potential number WITH credit?

Gen Z looks for retail shopping to be supported by mobile technology. They want to be browsing a shoe aisle and push a coupon for footwear in said store.

To Gen Z, retail and ecommerce shopping isn’t an “us vs. them” scenario; rather, the two complement each other and accentuate the shopping experience.

According to the 2018 Love List Brand Affinity Index, a research study from Condé Nast and Goldman Sachs, the top 10 Gen Z retailers are Victoria’s Secret, Sephora, Nike, Ulta, Nordstrom, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Adidas, Gucci and Coach.

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Gen Z are “more traditional shoppers than millennials,” said Katherine Cullen, director of retail and consumer insights for NRF.  “They are killing the idea that online and offline are separate. They’re really intertwining the digital and physical worlds and balancing digital experience with what they expect in the physical environment.”

The notion makes sense. Mobile technology helps Gen Z research and find the right makeup, clothes and shoes, but what teen and/or recent college graduate doesn’t want that immediate gratification of trying on an outfit or that perfect shade of blush? Retail offers that and removes the two-day shipping wait time, along with the possibility that an outfit doesn’t fit. Send back the outfit and then wait for the right size? Oh, the humanity.

This demo has changed the mindset of how brands and retailers target them.

Another study, conducted by IBM and the National Retail Federation, validates the trend of retail-happy Gen-Zers. Essentially all surveyed -- 98% --  said they prefer to shop in bricks-and-mortar stores.

Gen Z “appreciates the hands-on experience of shopping in a store,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the NRF.. “With technology constantly evolving but some shopping habits remaining the same, retailers need to be agile enough to serve both needs. Retailers are constantly focused on experimenting with new innovations both online and in-store to remain relevant to evolving consumer demand.”

Accenture’s Retail Customer Research from 2017 found that “like millennials, Gen Z shoppers mostly buy items based on three factors: receiving the lowest price, seeing products in stores, and reading reviews. However, Gen Z consumers place a greater emphasis than millennials on listening to friends and family and turning to social media for inspiration before deciding what to buy.”

By 2020, there will be 2.56 billion Gen Z members and nearly all -- 98% -- will own a smartphone. If your brand isn’t targeting this demo already, it’s time to start.

What interesting marketing tactics have you seen recently in retail stores?

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