Retailers have a new generation to market to, and it’s more important than ever to respond to their wants and needs. Generation Z is unlike any cohort we’ve seen in the past, which presents a challenge to retailers and brands that are looking to target and engage with Gen Z shoppers. While there are a number of ways to interact with this generation, especially through technology, retailers need to hone in on tactics that will truly drive the bottom line.
Drawing the Gen Z Shopper In-Store
First, it’s important to understand the shopper profile of this generation in order to meet — and exceed — their expectations, whether it’s promoting new products through a free giveaway contest, creating an engaging reward program or simply maintaining a clean store. A recent Interactions study, "The Next Generation of Retail," examined elements relating to the Gen Z shopper, including how they view the overall shopping experience.
What may come as a surprise to many is that the majority of Gen Zers (64 percent) prefer shopping in-store vs. online, and out of those shoppers, 75 percent prefer shopping at a retailer that provides an engaging in-store experience. The top three priorities for Generation Z consumers when it comes to a positive shopping experience include a clean store, friendly and knowledgeable associates, and a positive checkout experience. The plus side for retailers is that these are simple, low-cost ways to appeal to Gen Z (and really, all generations).
Brand Loyalty Low, but Opportunities Exist
While it’s important to meet the basic needs of any generation, the next step is to engage on a higher level to turn Generation Z into repeat customers. One of the biggest obstacles retailers and brands have to be conscious of is that brand loyalty amongst this cohort is fairly low. In fact, the study found that 81 percent of Gen Z shoppers are willing to switch from their favorite brand if they find a similar product at a higher quality. While these statistics can sound disheartening, there are ways to boost loyalty. For example, 80 percent of Gen Zers are willing to sign up for loyalty cards in exchange for deals and discounts.
How to Get Gen Z to ‘Like’ Your Products
Retailers and brands can further enhance the experience for Generation Z by connecting with them via social channels. In fact, the study found that two-thirds of Gen Z actually expect retailers to have a social media presence, and 60 percent prefer to shop at retailers that engage with them via social media. With a steady stream of new apps, retailers might be wondering which medium best targets Gen Z. Research has found that Gen Z is actually using Facebook more frequently than initially thought. This social media platform is leading the way in terms of where Gen Z is researching products before shopping, engaging with retailers and brands, and posting information about their shopping experiences.
Another reason for retailers and brands to capitalize on the use of social media? Eighty-two percent of Gen Zers state that the opinions of others on social media have influenced them to shop at a retailer they’ve never shopped at before. Being able to view product comments and discussions provides retailers with the insights they need to better inform future decisions as they relate to products, demos and the overall shopping experience.
While many retailers and brands have just started to grow accustomed to the wants and needs of millennials, Gen Z is starting to transform the retail game. This generation allows retailers and brands to innovate and engage across various platforms, providing them with opportunities to develop creative strategies that will ultimately impact the bottom line.
Bharat Rupani is the president of Interactions Marketing, a provider of experiential marketing and services for retailers and brands.