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What Gen Z Wants from Their In-Store Experience

This is a guest post by Madison Hora, Marketing Intern at Wiser Solutions.

People have studied buying habits and consumer sentiment of Millennials. However, there is a new generation, Generation Z, which will soon have a major impact on brands and retailers. Gen Z was born from roughly 1995 through 2010, which means they’re about nine to 24 years old. I myself am part of Gen Z.

Gen Z is the first generation to have had access to the internet and current advanced technology for their entire lives. This changes the way they interact with technology and mobile devices, especially while shopping in stores. As Gen Z enters the workforce, they will be increasingly important to brands and retailers. Even young Gen Z’s influence over their parents’ buying habits plays important roles in retail.

This new generation creates novel questions that brands and retailers will have to answer to capture Gen Z’s buying power. How will Gen Z use technology and their mobile devices during their in-store experiences? How do they make purchasing decisions?

Combining Mobile and In-Store Experiences

Many stores have already tried to give their customers an omnichannel experience with mobile apps for easier in-store purchases and experiences. Many Gen Zers prefer to look up products on websites, apps, and social media when deciding to purchase in-store rather than asking store associates.

Brands and retailers must make it easy to find and explore their products online while in stores. For example, in Target’s mobile app users can find products in-store through customized maps which show the exact aisle products are located. Many coffee shops and restaurants such as Starbucks, Dunkin’, and McDonald’s have mobile apps for easier and faster purchases that can be ordered in or on the way to the store.

person using smartphone

Product Research

It is a common misconception by older generations to assume that Gen Z prefers to only shop online and that they have less of a desire to go to stores to try out products. In truth, many Gen Zers like the convenience and efficiency of investigating products online before traveling to stores.

Gen Z wants their products fast, whether by driving to a nearby store or free 2-day shipping. Many websites show inventory levels in nearby stores, so it’s important that these products are actually in stores when Gen Zers get there. If not, they will go somewhere else to find a similar product.

Deals and Saving Money

Since most of Gen Z are still in school, whether middle school, high school, or college, many don’t have full-time jobs to support big spending habits. In addition, future Gen Zers may owe thousands of dollars in student loans once they graduate from college. Therefore, Gen Z will look to get more out of their dollar with rewards, deals, and discounts.

Money-conscious Gen Z will compare in-store and online prices of products to find the best deals. Brands and retailers will have to consider this when they implement online and in-store deals and promotions.

Gen Zers go to stores to try out products in person, but often they hold off on purchasing the item until they see a sale online. Brands and retailers will have to entice Gen Zers to come into their stores with deals to expose them to more products in stores and give them the ability to easily save the product on their phone to buy online later.

aerial photography of mall interior

Using Social Media and Texting

Gen Z uses various social media sites and apps for hours each day, and this habit doesn’t stop when they are shopping. It is said that Gen Z is the “always on” generation, and they constantly communicate via texting and social media. Social media ads can influence where Gen Z shops while they are scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, for example.

Gen Z wants to be able to text their friend groups or upload to social media asking their friends and family their opinion on a product and whether to purchase it. I have personally on several occasions texted my family about their opinions on purchasing a product. Gen Z wants free in-store Wi-Fi, fun Snapchat geofilters, and ways to easily share product information through the store’s mobile app or by taking pictures of a product.

It is uncertain how in-store shopping experiences will change as retailers attempt to appeal to Gen Z’s wants, but changes will be necessary to capture Gen Z’s increasing power over the market.

Madison Hora | Guest Author

Madison is Wiser's Marketing Intern. She is currently a student at Northwestern University.

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