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Prepping for Generation Z

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The big furor over the past couple of years has been all about Millennials, and even though Millennials occupy the largest demographic of any generation, it’s getting to be old news. Retailers need to get ready for the new generation of consumers: Generation Z. This is the group that was born between 1996 and 2010. The Wharton School Of Business calls them “Millennials on Steroids.”

Millennials prefer to spend money that’s focused on experiences rather than “stuff.” Wharton’s director of Undergraduate Marketing, Keith Niedermeier, notes that this new generation wants to own things—they’re into “stuff.”

According to Piper Jaffray’s report on teen spending, teens prefer to shop online vs. in-store. However, they prefer sites that have actual physical stores vs. retailers that are solely e-commerce-based. While they shop on their smart phones, they like to research brands across channels before purchasing items in physical stores.

CivicScience conducted a study and noted the differences between Millennials and Gen Z kids.

  • Millennials are 29% more likely to always compare prices before making purchases.
  • Millennials are 18% more likely to be price-conscious when it comes to clothing.

It probably goes without saying, this youngest consumer group isn’t as price sensitive, since they’re still more dependent on their parents for purchases, and Millennials definitely have more spending power.

Millennials tend to be earlier adopters than their younger counterparts and they’re also 40% more likely to tell family and friends about a product they are happy with; though, they are also more likely to tell family and friends when they are not happy with a product.

Millennials are slightly more influenced by social media than Gen Z consumers (58% to 53%). Interestingly enough, Gen Z is more swayed by TV ads (by 16%).

While Facebook is losing popularity among younger demographics (55% of Millennials use Facebook; Gen Z’s user rating is 32%), Gen Z focuses more on Facebook than Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. The study cites this as being a reason that Gen Z is more influenced by ads on TV—a sign to retailers that they need to expand their social media presence in order to influence this group.

When it comes to fashion, Gen Z leads in fashion/innovation by 31% over Millennials.

Retailers and brands should look to creating visually enticing fashion blogs; advertise the hottest fashion trends and looks; and partner with icons of the fashion world and celebrities to get more Gen Z shoppers to pay attention to their stores and brand, especially since these newcomers are 53% more likely than Millennials to be influenced by what celebrities are wearing.

Retailers should be aware that this group might be challenging to attract as summer help. Growing up with more bandwidth has made Gen Z’ers much more video- than print-oriented and they would rather rely on a YouTube video than read a lengthy description or explanation of something. iPads, screens and apps are appearing in kindergarten, so if stores expect to capture this generation as a workforce, they should probably do away with employee manuals—this group likely won’t read it, and will opt instead for video training.

Forbes contributor Nikki Baird believes Gen Z kids are more confident than Millennials and know how to approach problems to make them easier to understand and embrace. They also know how to pick them apart in order to come up with solutions, and they have the skills to execute those solutions, so if presented with a stale set of store procedures that don’t make sense to them, they may try to “fix” things to make the work better—hence the challenge for retailers to ensure consistency in store operations.

Because of this can-do-come-up-with-something-better approach, retailers may not be getting the new crop of potential Gen Z employees they anticipate, since these kids aren’t likely to conform to rules they don’t believe make sense. 

TAGS: retail, retail trends, retailers, omni-channel, e-commerce,
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