The Generation Z Shopper: How to Understand the Newest Wave of Upcoming Buyers

The timeline used to determine precisely who meets the criteria for generation Z classification spans between birth dates within 1998 to 2013. Far from its humble beginnings as a speculative and strangely terrifying twinkle on the horizon, the fully matured generation Z member demographic has emerged in the flesh and in the tax brackets. Don’t take the low age bracket of generation Z as any sign of low impact on the ways that older shoppers behave in the market. What DWW found after a thorough investigation carried about by Interactions (DWW’s experience marketing company) is that most parents actually refer to their generation Z children as advisors on what their newest purchases should be.

If you plan on selling water to a fish within the next few decades, there’s no choice but to make sure that your business does justice to those being bring groomed to run the show within the decade. Thankfully, the lack of practical alternatives to satisfying generation Z ‘s shopping preferences is outweighed by a titanic shipload of benefits. The following are just some of the many highly significant things to keep in mind when catering to the youngest up-and-coming shopping force.

Don't be skeptical about brick and mortar

As deeply entrenched as generation Z may be in the digital world, the physical store is far from empty of their business. Studies have shown that while visual media is clearly king when it comes to the kind of content that generation Z prefers to enjoy on their spare time, just about 77% of generation Z shoppers report that physical brick and mortar stores are their first shopping channel choice. Around 60% of generation Z shoppers say that they often prefer to buy their products in a physical store as opposed to a digital one.

Wield the weight of social proof

While Generation Z may have a surprisingly high affinity for retail stores despite their digitally drenched upbringing, there’s no denying the value of keeping social channels open for Generation Z members to do their due diligence on sellers. In addition to about 70% of surveyed Generation Z members reporting the retail store to be their selling channel of choice, just about the same amount of surveyed Generation Z members stated that they also enjoyed being able to buy from social media platforms.

In addition to enjoying the ability to buy directly from social sources, the studies also show that about 44% of generation Z members consider social media to be one of the most valid sources of product inspiration. Because so many generation Z members find social media to be one of the most popular sources of product inspiration, the credibility points earned with them through high social presence are like pure gold. Generation Z buyers are far more likely than any other generation to consider a business worthy of checking out on account of significant social media weight alone.

Capture the critical wandering eyes with credibility

Even though generation Z members are still just as receptive to the retail experience as the generations of yesteryear, the way that they go about vetting their choices is more critical than ever. While there are certainly plenty of shoppers in the previous generations who have a sharp and critical eye for quality, generation Z holds the sharpest and most critical eyes to date. When the background information regarding just about every single known product in the world is only a few thumb taps away, retailers must work harder than ever to clarify everything about how they operate.

It’s only natural that generation Z has the most elusive attention and least tolerance for ambiguity in offers. Many parents of generation Z shoppers who are coming of age have instilled them with a deeply embedded sense of healthy skepticism due to nearly two decades of well-worn wariness to thousands of online scams disguised as legitimate businesses and opportunities.

To accomplish the feat of fully capturing the average generation Z member’s attention and trust, business owners must quickly unlock doors to pinhole-sized windows of opportunity before they shut forever. Social proof will be very useful for driving more generation Z leads, but for businesses to actually keep those leads once they’ve been generated, highly visible and immediately understandable signs of legitimacy are essential.

Communication before accumulation

Even though there are many more options for shoppers in just about every vertical to choose from than ever before, this shouldn’t be mistaken for the idea that merely having more options matters most. Generation Z’s familiarity with a great abundance of different potential product choices to pick and choose from hasn’t conditioned them to worship nonstop accumulation. If anything, many generation Z buyers today care more about the quality of their experiences than anything else.

Whether they’re online or in a physical store, generation Z members are highly receptive to and hungry for novel shopping experiences that leave them with a genuinely positive experience to think about. While generation Z is undoubtedly highly attuned to long-distance communication, personal communication still matters a great deal; as a matter of fact, face-to-face contact may be held in even higher regard now due to its increased scarcity.

The importance of 1-on-1 consultations, with full consideration for individual needs, cannot be understated. Even a brief interaction with a sales representative who is surprisingly personable can be significant enough to make generation Z shoppers to feel uniquely appreciated and more compelled to return.

As mentioned before, generation Z’s standards are high when it comes to what grabs their attention and the tolerance for vagueness is low. 60% of generation Z members are far more likely just to hang up if someone on the other end of the line doesn’t pick up after 45 seconds.

Instead of bells and whistles, close individual attentiveness and personalized consideration should be looked to as the most powerful tools of the trade. In just about all scenarios, shopping outlets that stimulate personal bonding feelings will be held in far higher regard than those that merely grant access to a higher volume of things.

Summary

After carrying out a nationwide survey, IBM reported that 74% of generation Z members spend at least five or more hours online daily – however, as the studies show us, this is not an indication of communication nor the brick and mortar model becoming obsolete. Shoppers that are just now coming of age are just as appreciative of the more intimate, physically-grounded side of shopping as they are of mobile-optimized retailers.

To meet the requirements for touching base with generation Z consumers, we must capitalize on communication, personal attachment, positive experiences, and social proof consciousness. Staying as competitive, credible and transparent as possible on the digital front is just as important as considering the advantages of a physical place of business.

While it’s definitely a good idea to promote mobile-optimized content that a buyer can see on the phone, you'll stand to gain even more when your business's foundation is inside of the mobile realm. Aim to have just as much of the business’s foundation built into its online social presence as the foundation of a brick and mortar store is physically built into the ground.

A reinforced two-pronged approach of both physical presence and social media presence will likely be the common denominator between most if not all businesses that gain the most engagement from generation Z members as they rapidly come of age.

Primary Sources

David Kirkpatrick. (2017, Nov. 2). Study: Gen Z and millennial 'pivotals' are reshaping the beauty space, marketing norms. Primary reference retrieved from: https://www.marketingdive.com/news/study-gen-z-and-millennial-pivotals-are-reshaping-the-beauty-space-mark/509974/ 

Daphne Howard. (2017, January 11). Retailers struggle with new consumer emphasis on experiences, not stuff. Primary reference retrieved from: https://www.retaildive.com/news/retailers-struggle-with-new-consumer-emphasis-on-experiences-not-stuff/411881/ 

Euclid contributors. (2017, March). AI and Internet of Things will drive digital transformation through 2020. Primary reference retrieved from: http://www.zdnet.com/article/ai-and-internet-of-things-will-drive-digital-transformation-through-2020/ 

Fung Global Retail & Tech Contributors. (2017). Gen Z: Get Ready for the Most Self-Conscious, Demanding Consumer Segment. Primary reference retrieved from: https://www.fungglobalretailtech.com/research/gen-z/ 

Jane Cheung. (2017, October 6). Despite Living a Digital Life, 98 Percent of Generation Z Still Shop In-Store. Primary reference retrieved from: https://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/51397.wss#release