From baby boomers to millennials, today, there are many different terms used to describe groups of generations. But recently, there’s a new term that retailers need to get to grips with - Generation (Gen) Z, the cohort born between 1997 and 2012.
This specific generation has evoked a lot of excitement across the ecommerce industry. This is because they’re digital natives, born in a world where accessible internet, social media and smartphones are the norm. This means they have a well-defined set of expectations when it comes to retail.
With Gen Z on track to becoming the largest generation of consumers, with increasing spending power, it’s never been more important for businesses to understand what this generation really wants. Here’s everything you need to know ...
Retailers with Gen Z in mind shouldn’t underestimate just how much this generation uses smartphones. Living in a mobile-first world, Gen Z’s are more connected and demanding than any other generation before; with Gen Z consumers spending as much as eight hours a day online compared to other generations.
There's also a clear commitment among Gen Z to seek out the best product at the best price - and mobile is how most feel that this can be achieved.
Speed is king
For Gen Zers speed is essential, with 60% admitting that they won’t use an app or website if it loads slowly. This generation expects to move seamlessly between the physical and digital world and are less tolerant when it comes to technical glitches and slow page speeds. It’s therefore imperative that your ecommerce website is fully optimised with the latest tools and techniques to avoid losing your customers to competitors.
It doesn’t just stop there when it comes to speed necessity for Gen Z shoppers. In the age of fast fashion, they expect the latest styles to be accessible immediately and will often choose the brand that can provide the fastest return.
There are so many fast fashion brands that are adept at communicating with Generation Z and winning their favour. For example, Boohoo and Missguided expertly centre their business models around speedy production and delivery of the latest fashion trends. You only have to visit their homepages to see how brilliantly they provide a visual customer experience.
Young retail customers increasingly put customer experience near the top of their shopping priorities. They’re less loyal to brands in comparison to the previous generation, millennials, with 31% saying a poor experience online could prevent them from returning to shop with a brand.
So how do retail brands keep their young customer base buying?
Social media matters
Social media heavily influences a Gen Zers relationship with a retail brand. This is because it offers the consumer an opportunity to engage with a brand whenever and wherever they want to, as well as providing a sense of belonging, a community of opinion and vindication of choice.
The opinion of others is highly valued among Gen Z. Social media offers immediate access to opinions, and means they’re quick to research recommendations. It’s easy to see how the number of likes or the tone of particular comments can make or break a purchasing decision.
Retail brands need to be consistently engaging with Gen Zers across all social media platforms. With 48% of Gen Zers interacting with brands on social media, content needs to be relevant to their lives and targeted. If it’s not - you’ll be ignored, it’s as simple as that! The days when a product or service advertisement sparked interest in a consumer are long gone. Gen Zers are less swayed by traditional marketing techniques, they want the content to resonate with their daily lives.
For example, Gen Zers love positive, authentic customer content that gives retail products valuable credibility in the real world. For Generation Z peer affirmation is an essential part of their customer journey, making User-Generated Content (UGC) a perfect way to satisfy this. This allows brands to leverage the influence of family and friends through likes, shares and recommendations which will provide you with a vast amount of data to identify shopping preferences.
Furthermore, this is why influencer marketing using micro-influencers can also be hugely effective when earning a Gen Zers loyalty. Defined as having between 1,000 - 100,000 followers on social media, micro-influencers can drive up to 60% more engagement than their celebrity counterparts because Gen Zers can relate to them more. From styling tips to outfit inspiration, micro-influencers bring products to life in a way that Gen Zers value.
One brand that has used social media to its advantage is Brandy Melville, who consistently ranks as the go-to brand for Gen Z. As you can see from their Instagram account, they have successfully honed in on who their customer is and what they want to see.
Personalisation isn’t a luxury, it’s an expectation
Generation Z wants their shopping experience to be entirely their own. From unique product suggestions to personalised incentives, their customer journey needs to be tailored to them as an individual.
Gen Zers value customisation. For example, Gen Zers want to see more brands using technology that enables consumers to customise their purchases. Whether it’s adding emoji-style stickers or simply their initials, for young customers product personalisation is a must.
It’s clear that members of Gen Z have a very different outlook when it comes to shopping compared to their predecessors. For any retail brand serious about engaging this mobile-focused generation, it’s important to focus on creating a personalised, interactive shopping experience which will keep them coming back for more.