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2020 Vision

You can’t afford to snooze on Gen Z.

With a population of approximately 40 billion, this generation will force your innovative retail tactics out of hibernation. Individuals who make up this generation were born after 1996 which means, contrary to previous generations, this group hasn’t lived without the existence of the Internet. Even with this advantage, they’re still traditional consumers in many ways.

A survey conducted by the National Retail Foundation (NRF) unlocked what brands need to provide to influence Gen Z shoppers today:

Consistency in-store and online

Gen Zers want the in-store shopping experience to reflect the often seamless experience of online shopping. They expect diversified products, fair pricing and transparency. And while it might surprise you, this generation does enjoys the physical shopping experience as well. In fact, 98 percent of Gen Z consumers make in-store purchases versus online and they don’t shop in silo: nearly half of Gen Zers reportedly ask friends and family for their opinion before making a purchase. In this respect, brick-and-mortar continues to have the upper hand as they can provide, as AdWeek puts it, “the social and communal experience of browsing the aisles.” However, the convenience of technology remains vital and, if a Gen Zer researches an item online, they will expect to find it at your location.

Nearly half of Gen Zers reportedly ask friends and family for their opinion before making a purchase


Still, it’s important to note that 47 percent of Gen Zers enjoy a healthy balance of both shopping online and at in store locations. Instant gratification isn’t their primary concern which is made evident by the fact that, in the heart of the Amazon era, approximately 1 in 2 Gen Zers are willing to wait up to seven days for a shipped item. They are far more patient than their millennial counterparts, but not when it comes to technology.

‍Seamless technology at every touch point

Gen Zers have a unique relationship with technology. For them, there was no world before the Internet. They are advocates for improved technology and readily adopt innovative solutions. The NRF found that Gen Zers want the future of retail to include augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and robotics. They want the shopping experience with the online perks.

If your digital performance is lagging, this generation will likely not dial in. Gen Zers are less forgiving of technical errors. According to the NRF, 62 percent of Gen Zers said they “will not use apps that are slow to load.” And 60 percent said they “won’t use apps, websites or facilities that are hard to navigate.”

This generation recognizes the potential of technological advancements. Gen Z expects reliable and convenient technology for a frictionless customer experience.

For Gen Zers, individualization surpasses personalization

These two concepts are often used interchangeably but differ slightly. With personalization, brands customize the buyer’s experience based on data. On the contrary, individualization empowers consumers to create an experience that is unique to their preferences.

According to a NRF 2018 Executive Report, 64 percent of Gen Zers said tailored price or service loyalty rewards were “important” to them, while only 59 percent said having their birthday remembered was important. Moreover, 65 percent of respondents said that rewards programs “influenced where they chose to shop.

If you’re a retailer trying to reach this generation, don’t be so quick to toss the key to your brick-and-mortar locations. Gen Z enjoys the shopping experience with a technological twist. They are habitually intertwining their physical and digital worlds. As a retailer, you need to do the same. Gen Zers may be the throwback generation, but they are expecting retailers to innovate.

By KIRAH BRADLEY| Contributing Writer