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Gen Z Wants to EXPERIENCE Shopping

Salsify | May 8, 2018

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Generation Z doesn’t want to simply buy, they want to experience shopping. Sensory, exciting, personalized, tech-infused, and immediate. This goes for brick and mortar as much as digital, because as we found, the projected 2.6 billion-strong Generation Z prefer spending their $44 billion in-store.

Of this age group born after the mid-1990s and early 2000s (with some not even born yet), Coresight Research found 92% go online daily, 24% are online almost constantly, and 73% have access to a smartphone. But don’t be fooled into thinking this technologically tethered generation doesn’t shop in-store – because they do – almost more than any other demographic.

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What’s different about them, though, are their reasons for shopping in-store. First of all, online, in-store it’s all one non-linear experience in Gen Z’s eyes. Smartphones are an extension of this generation’s beings. They see no separation between shopping different channels. Most use their phones while in-store, as 82% do, performing tasks such as reading reviews, comparing prices, and checking availability at other stores or online. They also browse online extensively before purchase, envision how their new item will fit into their self-image, create digital mood boards, and then share their purchases on social media with friends and followers.

Thus, shopping in-person has become an important aspect of social connectedness. Yes, the mall remains a place to hang out with friends, but also today’s youngest consumers, who have grown up with their photos and likeness constantly projected on social media, view shopping as a way to be connected and support their self-image. They want to broadcast their experiences with those not physically present, and demand in-store experiences that are innovative, share-worthy, fun, and visually appealing. They expect to be entertained with branded content while shopping anywhere and believe the world around them should reflect the same theater YouTube, Instagram, and the internet in general provide at all times.

The “at all times” language is important, because Gen Z expects immediacy. Netflix, Uber, Instacart, Prime shipping—having what’s desired right away is all they’ve ever known. The survival of brands means figuring out how to deliver every experience quickly, seamlessly, and without clunky technology. As an IBM study uncovered, “62 percent [of Gen Z shoppers] will not use apps or websites that are difficult to navigate and 60 percent will not use apps or websites that are slow to load.”

This also means they expect shipping to be free. We repeat: Gen Z will not pay for shipping. They view the concept as outdated and would rather spend that money on tangible items that benefit them.

What’s at stake should brands not heed to the demands of this rising generation? As IBM also found, “52 percent of Gen Z consumers will transfer loyalty from one brand to another if the brand’s quality is not up to par.” No questions asked.

Experience, content, and convenience all fall under the “quality” umbrella. After all, Gen Z has access to so many shopping options and are always looking to uncover new ones. Brands must readily adapt and keep evolving. As Coresight Research warns, “Get ready to compromise – because your next generation of customers will not.”

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