Retail Insights for Connecting with Generation Z

Image courtesy of iStock

Image courtesy of iStock

Is it really all about Millennials? Innovative retailers are looking beyond to the next generation of consumers, Generation Z.  Gen Z is the demographic of people born from 1995-2010. Like Millennials, Z’ers spend much of their time online and expect brands to connect with them digitally. According to Forbes, they “hold $44 billion in buying power” and “will comprise 40% of consumers by 2020.”

Understanding Generation Z

Although Gen Z’ers are often accused of having an 8-second attention span, Fast Company suggests that, in reality, they have an “8-second filter.” The article says, “They’ve grown up in a world where their options are limitless but their time is not. As such, Gen Z has adapted to quickly sorting through and assessing enormous amounts of information.” The author notes, “Once something has demonstrated attention-worthiness, Gen Z can become intensely committed and focused.” Because of Gen Z’s ability to filter out information they consider extraneous or insincere, Fast Company advises retailers to provide them with “engaging and immediately beneficial experiences,” adding that “one-way messaging alone will likely get drowned out in the noise.”

Relatedly, Z’ers have a low tolerance for corporate advertising and prefer honest, brief ads lasting 20 seconds or less, Digital Pulse says. The site also says, “Anything that seems fake or inauthentic, including things like image manipulation or obvious sales-speak, will be quickly ignored.” To Gen Z, much of this authenticity involves whether a retailer is environmentally and socially conscious.

Good News for Brick-and-Mortar Retailers

IBM reports that 98% of Gen Z’ers shop in stores, though this statistic is split between the 67% that “prefer to shop in a brick-and-mortar store all the time” and the 31% “preferring to shop in-store sometimes.” This preference for in-store experiences may be due to Gen Z’ers’ desire to connect with brands on a personal level, with both the consumer and retailer striving to make a difference in the world. This collaborative attitude, according to the National Retail Foundation, means Z’ers “are much more willing to share feedback and product improvement suggestions with brands” and “like to be part of the product creation process.”

Engaging Generation Z

Author Deep Patel, writing for Forbes, stresses the importance of having a polished and contemporary web presence. He says, “If your mobile website looks like it was made 10 years ago, it doesn’t matter what your message is—you look old.” He then adds, “Gen Z doesn’t want to hear about how much of an ‘industry leader’ you are” if a website isn’t mobile-friendly or contains dated visuals. Digital Pulse and International Business Times also highlight online relevance by advising retailers to connect with customers across social media platforms popular with the demographic, including Snapchat, Instagram, and Reddit. One very effective way to engage digitally with Gen Z is through post-purchase e-receipts.  Given Gen Z’s environmental concerns and fluency with omnichannel shopping, retailers can leverage e-receipts as an eco-friendly and convenient alternative to paper. (For a detailed discussion on the environmental impact of paper receipts, see our recent post). In addition to the environmental benefits, e-receipts can be used to feature Z-centric content including relevant social media callouts, irresistible loyalty incentives and invitations to in-store experiences.  But, don’t forget the video. Gen Z’ers watch an average of 68 videos per day! Consider inserting short, dynamic videos within e-receipts, offering Z’ers messages that resonate with them.

Gen Z is an audience you can’t ignore. This social media-obsessed, tech-savvy cohort is growing up fast and slowly becoming the new drivers of success in retail. As digital natives, Gen Z consumers are looking for relevant, fresh content, environmental consciousness, and authentic connection. Be the brand that gives them what they want, and you’ll be one of the success stories in this new age of retail.

About flexReceipts

flexReceipts is the leading provider of smart, digital receipts for innovative retailers, enabling brands like Under Armour, GNC, Aldo, Oakley and Signet Jewelers to capture more, valid emails, enrich customer profiles, and drive greater loyalty and repeat purchases. Visit our Product Page to learn more.