It seems we’ve figured Millennials out.
Over the past year or so, Celect has published numerous blogs about the Millennial consumer. We’ve written about how they are brand loyal, how they prefer email marketing to social media, and how they’re a trillion dollar demographic; to name just a few.
And we’re not alone. Every single major retail publication (or at least the ones we recommend you read) has written extensively about this once confounding demographic. Yet, at this point, with the older end of the Millennial generation well into their thirties, there really seems to be nothing all that original left to report on. They are who they are.
So, maybe that’s why a newly released study entitled “The Next Generation of Retail” forgoes Millennials entirely, opting instead to detail the purchasing habits of “Generation Z.”
Introducing Generation Z
As you may have guessed, “Generation Z” is the current moniker of those born after Millennials. It’s comprised of consumers that generally fall in their teen and pre-teens, with the oldest members of the group entering their sophomore year of college. According to Interactions, they make up approximately 25 percent of the U.S. population and “wield about $44 billion in buying power.” Unlike Millennials, they’re not brand loyal, and are a “multitasking, tech-savvy cohort [that] is about to turn the retail industry on its head.”
But not how you might think.
According to the study conducted by Interactions, 64 percent of “Generation Z” prefers the in-store shopping experience to purchasing online.
Most casual observers assume that due to “Generation Z” spending their entire lives in the post-Internet era, not remembering a time in which cellphones and mobile devices weren’t ubiquitous, they’d be a natural driver in e-commerce sales. But, just like the Millennials before them, they too prefer brick-and-mortar shopping.
"Generation Z is constantly connected to technology, which retailers may find intimidating to overcome when it comes to in-store engagement. However, our study found that this group is longing for retailers to provide an engaging in-store experience.
Not the same old brick-and-mortar stores
Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers shouldn’t celebrate just yet, though—for a few reasons. One, members of “Generation Z” are still teens and preteens and purchasing habits can (and will) change. Two, they currently lack the brand loyalty that has defined Millennial purchasing habits. And three, they prefer a more interactive and personable in-store shopping experience than any previous generation of consumers.
From the report: “While the majority of Gen Z like to shop in stores, close to 75 percent also prefer retailers that provide an engaging in-store experience citing cleanliness, friendly and knowledgeable associates, and a positive checkout experience as their top three preferences.”
If anything, so-called “stores of the future” will be of even greater importance.
The narrative of retailers needing to tailor themselves to Millennials may be overplayed—at least now that there's a new generation to dissect. Smart retailers will take their cues from “Generation Z,” investing in experience-driven brick-and-mortar locations with optimized assortments and aggressive deals.