CGK featured on NPR Marketplace explaining Gen Z as consumers

Gen Z Shopping

A recent survey from the National Retail Federation found that Gen Z—also known as iGen and Centennials—was surprisingly the demographic most likely to shop in-store during Black Friday 2019.

This reflects a larger trend: Gen Z prefer to shop in traditional retail outlets but also expect improved personalization, better overall value, and a stronger focus on experiences. This is particularly true from brands that once relied mainly on location, price, and brand recognition to stay competitive.

Gen Z learned fiscal responsibility from Gen X parents during the last recession

Growing up with Gen X parents who often struggled through the economic recession of the last decade, Gen Z learned the benefits of fiscal responsibility at a young age. They consistently prioritize value in a variety of forms: lower prices, better warranties, product durability, and unique shopping experiences. Black Friday, a commercial event built on the premise of exceptional price cuts, appeals directly to Gen Z’s price sensitivity.

Gen Z was old enough to understand what was going on during the Great Recession, as I described on a recent episode of NPR Marketplace. They felt the anxiety, the stress, the pressure of it, and yet they were young enough for it to change their values.

Gen Z’s big showing for Black Friday doesn’t necessarily mean a sales spike for every retail outlet, though. Our youngest generation of consumers brings a distinct set of attitudes and behaviors—along with tons of buying power—to the marketplace. Brands and stores will need new strategies to harness Gen Z’s unique expectations for the shopping experience and keep them as consumers long term.

Gen Z prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar retail outlets, but they look for new differentiators

Gen Z are the first generation of digital dependents—per CGK’s research, 61% spend at least five hours each day using their smartphones. In fact, 31%  of Gen Z feel uncomfortable after being separated from their phone for longer than thirty minutes. Technology and connectivity are inextricable from Gen Z’s daily reality, and therefore a lynchpin in their shopping experience and expectations.

It seems intuitive, then, that Gen Z would prefer to shop online using their smartphones—but that is not what is happening. A new A.T. Kearney study reports that 81% of Gen Z respondents prefer to purchase in stores. 73% like to discover new products in stores and 58% browse in-store selections to disconnect from social media and live in the moment. However, if that experience is compromised with long lines or higher prices, they are likely to pull out their phones and turn to online outlets to complete their purchase.

The rise of Gen Z presents both a challenge and a huge opportunity

Gen Z are expecting retailers to have more information about them and make better marketing decisions when trying to engage them (check out my Q&A video on Gen Z and retail). Retail leaders have an incredible opportunity to harness Gen Z shopping attitudes and tap directly into an emerging generation of consumers. Will you adapt? If so, Gen Z is ready!

Would your organization benefit from specific strategies for creating a retail or shopping experience that quickly attract Gen Z consumers? Contact us here and we will set up a call to see how we can be a resource through our acclaimed Gen Z consumer keynote speeches or custom research. We are passionate about unlocking the potential of every generation!

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