Gen Z consumers may be thoroughly digital, but new research finds they are still keen on discovering new brands while in physical stores. And they take plenty of pride in discovering brands before others, so they can envision themselves as early adopters. The brands that mean the most to them are those with a connection to a cause they care about.
In the study, from Cassandra on behalf of Snap, 18% of respondents say they first discovered a new brand while in retail stores, about the same as hearing about it online. Recommendations from friends and family members carry more weight, at 27%.
Gen-Zers are also intent on supporting companies that “they believe are making the world a better place,” says Melanie Shreffler, senior director of insights at Cassandra, a New York-based strategy firm. “It is a key part of a brand’s reputation for them, and that’s become an important element of how they shop.”
REI, Patagonia and other outdoor-oriented brands are among those most often mentioned.
Shreffler says the survey also turned up a surprising level of curiosity about the companies behind brands, and their “About us” stories. “They want to know what companies stand for, beyond that product, and they talk about that in their social media conversations,” she notes. “[Such info] is incredibly meaningful to a young generation who’s been marketed to their entire lives.”
Younger consumers are most likely to seek an introduction to consumer goods and beauty products online, with 25% preferring to learn about these categories through online advertising. But they prefer to see new food products in stores.
About 35% go first to a company’s website for information, especially in retail, fashion, consumer goods, technology, and entertainment. With beauty brands, they are more likely to dig into user reviews.
Shreffler tells Marketing Daily she was also impressed with Gen-Zer’s willingness to share positive impressions of a brand online. “We’ve seen this as a big shift in younger consumers. There’s been a mind shift, and they like the element of being able to showcase that they found a brand they loved early on. They want others to follow their lead, and like the idea of being influencers.”
Some 46% say they’ve shared a positive in-store experience, for example.
The survey included responses from more than 800 consumers, all between the ages of 13 and 22.