The Generation That’s Changing Retail

Amar Kulkarni
By: Amar Kulkarni
Date: June 26, 2017

Everywhere you turn, you will find another study or revelation on millennials, but 60 million strong, Generation Z outnumbers the millennial generation by one million. Roughly ages 16-22, Gen Z members are a massive consumer base and the future of retail.

Typically independent when it comes to managing their own finances, Gen Z has strong influence on their parents purchasing decisions and buying habits. Generation Z also has unique expectations when it comes to brands, and retailers need to be ready to meet this growing demographic’s needs. Companies that want to capture Gen Z’s attention will need to become intensely customer focused and experience-oriented to ensure positive brand perception and loyalty from this group of true digital natives.

Trust and Loyalty

Just as brands hope to build a loyal connection from customers, Gen Z expects the same loyalty in return. Slightly less deterred by poor press or swayed by competitive offers than previous generations, Generation Z members are more likely to stop using a product, service or brand due to a security breach. Nearly 60 percent would also drop a company for unexpected fees or charges. Lesson here: It is in the company’s best interest to be transparent, especially in supply chain and sustainability practices.

Turning to Tech

Generation Z has grown up with technology at their fingertips. This constantly connected crowd are more comfortable with digital and mobile transactions, with many using alternative payment methods such as PayPal, ApplePay, Venmo and Visa Checkout. In addition to having those options available anywhere, in store and otherwise, other capabilities Gen Z said would keep them the most loyal include same-day and drone delivery, buying via apps or social media, buying via wearables.

With a digital-first mindset, the internet is the first turn for customer service. In resolving issues, they are much more likely to turn to online resources, text messages, and social media than previous generations. Retailers should have these resources available, with reliable information and quick response times. Why? More than 20 percent of Gen Z members indicated they would be turned off from a product, service or brand due to poor or slow online response times and features.


As we noted in an earlier post, smartphones and geo technology are increasingly important in cultivating an engaging retail experience. Because of their strong mobile interaction, Generation Z finds communication from brands via text, in-app notifications, and social media much less invasive when it comes to delivering offers and deals. Although they are still okay with traditional communications, they want more.

This demographic expects companies to meet their needs; they won’t shy from finding a brand that will. With the right tech solutions in place, retailers can keep Generation Z engaged and coming back for more.

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