How Retailers and Brands Should Prepare for Generation Z

According to Euromonitor data, Generation Z, which consists of individuals born between 1995 and 2005, currently accounts for nearly 1.3 billion people. With the oldest of this cohort approaching their early twenties and acquiring more purchasing power, successful retailers and brands will likely be those that are well-aware of the group’s defining characteristics and able to seamlessly implement omnichannel strategies to offer authentic and unique experiences.

Generation Z’s defining characteristics

Many of Generation Z’s defining characteristics stem from the fact that they were born into a time of advanced technology and high speed internet—its members simply do not know of a time without smartphones, tablets and fast internet. The digital natives are extremely well-connected and expect everything to be immediately accessible through as many channels and few clicks as possible. They are heavy users of apps and social media platforms, live their lives publicly online, and as a result are very conscious of brands and what they say about one’s identity.

Retailers’ core focus should be on implementing omnichannel strategies with an emphasis on authentic and unique experiences

Successfully implementing strategies to become omnichannel retailers will be essential in winning over Generation Z. As the cohort will have extremely high expectation for technology, retailers will need to perfect the integration of all channels flawlessly. Considering Generation Z’s digital prowess and expectations for quick and constant accessibility, retailers will need to focus on all five screens that Generation Z is on (mobile, computer, TV, tablet and wearable devices).  Mobile and wearable devices are new challenges for the vast majority of retailers and marketers with their full potentials yet to be realized.

Furthermore, when it comes to marketing and brand management, retailers should focus on providing authentic and unique experiences. With word of mouth and reviews being essential parts of Generation Z’s shopping process, retailers are better off encouraging active, authentic discussions regarding their brands rather than sporadically sending out carefully-constructed marketing messages. It is also important to incorporate user generated content to deliver authenticity but also engage directly with Gen Z shoppers. If there is a negative review or tweet, those of Generation Z will respond favourably to an honest attempt to remedy the situation.

Experience is a key element in attracting Generation Z. An example of a retailer offering an experiential brand that is highly attractive to Generation Z is Smiggle, a trendy Australian stationary brand. Smiggle offers a variety of vibrant products ranging from pencil cases to backpacks to water bottles. The brand has positioned itself as a fun and unique brand, and while the stationary industry is generally on the decline, Smiggle is planning an impressive global expansion starting with Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Wales and Scotland. In addition to its physical stores located globally, Smiggle has also established a connection with its audience by making the brand accessible digitally through apps, games, wallpapers and its loyalty program. For Generation Z owning a Smiggle product has become a status symbol, a way to experience the exciting, fashion-forward brand that adds to their lifestyle and personal brand.

Understanding Generation Z is necessary to understand the future of shopper behaviour

Every generation comes with its own challenges for retailers and marketers and Generation Z’s will revolve around flawless implementation of technology with authentic and individual experience that creates an outstanding brand. Retailers lacking either will likely find it difficult to capture the attention and therefore the patronage of Generation Z.