Are you ready for Generation Z?

Sep 19, 2016

CSD Staff

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of an article from Convenience Store Decisions magazine.

Having grown up with social media and assuming instant access to almost all things digital, Gen Z want it all, and they want it now, according to a study from Fung Global Retail & Technology.

“The new technology products and services have broadened consumers’ range of choice and quickened the pace of life,” Deborah Weinswig, managing director of the think tank, observed.

Born in 2001 and later (with many yet to be born), the generation is typified by three dominant characteristics related to its relationship with tech:

  • The importance of self-image, with their vanity influenced by social media, dating apps and video chat;
  • The demand for experiences, and a change in consumption habits shaped by booking and delivery apps as well as social media;
  • The demand for immediacy propelled by Amazon Prime Now, among other delivery apps.

Social media and selfies have spurred Gen Zers to be more concerned with personal appearance than any other previous generations, boosting sales of cosmetics, skincare and hair products among boys and girls, the report noted. New brands are even emerging from social media stars such as Kylie Jenner from the U.S. and British blogger Zoella.

This generation’s habit of documenting interesting and fun experiences on social media means they are spending more on events, dining out and travel.

The only generation to grow up with the on-demand economy, Gen Zers likely will continue to be highly demanding consumers, whether they are requesting instant access to video, ride-hailing apps or delivery services.

“Exposure to near-infinite choice and access to near-endless information makes this generation more demanding than any of its predecessors,” Ms. Weinswig said. “As Gen Z matures, it will become more discerning, but its demanding nature is unlikely to be diluted.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: In what ways will Gen Z be different from Millennials? How must brands and retailers respond? What are the biggest unknowns around this generation?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"If you can reach and connect with this group that is as socially conscience as they are brand-aware they will reward you with their wallets."
"I am with Anne. The issues with Generation Z will change when their Millennial parents learn how to raise kids..."
"...they are also inured to using technology to shop and procure goods ... the role of the salesperson, or store assistant will be forever changed..."

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17 Comments on "Are you ready for Generation Z?"

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Anne Howe

Are there any parents involved with these kids? The relentless demands of “want it all, want it now” among young kids and teens is frankly a bit scary. Maybe they don’t all need to be weaned from the breast/bottle to the smartphone or the iPad. If delayed satisfaction is still one of the core concepts to teach kids as they mature to successful teens and adults, we are in for some crazy times in the near future.

Dick Seesel

The article points out the many differences that separate Generation Z even from their Millennial (or Generation X) parents. It’s most important for retailers and marketers to consider that technology is like breathing to this group of current and future consumers, and rapid technological changes tend to be embraced rather than pushed away.

This may be the first generation since the Boomers that takes for granted new ways to consume goods and services. Boomers grew up getting information from TV and were no longer bound to shopping “downtown” as malls and discounters spread nationwide. There are parallels to Generation Z, and marketers need to figure this out while still catering to the consumption patterns of their parents and grandparents.

Steve Montgomery

What amazes the grandparents surprises the parents and is expected by the grandchildren. The rate of change from generation to generation has increased. Grandparents remember the shopping malls being built, the parents remember them adding new stores and growing and the grandkids will remember them being converted from places to shop to venues that were places to go to for entertainment, food and perhaps to pick up something ordered online. Generation Z may remember them as large empty structures.

Brick-and-mortar retailers have to find a way to make themselves relevant to this latest generation who grew up in world where they can order almost anything and have it delivered in a couple days or even a couple hours. This means having a strong online presence (including their own site(s), social media, etc.) that relates to their target audience. They will be marketing to a generation that not only wants what then want now, but fully expects to get it.

Max Goldberg

Brands and retailers need to woo Generation Z through experiences and speed. Experiences should be snap-worthy, something that these young consumers will want to share. And they need to be short, since the Generation Z attention span can change in a nanosecond. Couple the experience with speedy fulfillment for a winning formula. Generation Z expects to have what they want now. Here Amazon leads the way. As a Baby Boomer, I wonder how fast gratification needs to get to satisfy each succeeding generation.

Gene Detroyer

I have two observations. I have four grandchildren ages, 12, 11, eight and seven. They are all electronically savvy. My eight year old can help me with my phone and computer challenges. Their electronic devices are their connections to their friends and the world. If they want to know something, electronics is the first place they go. They don’t do homework without a device. They play Words With Friends as well as Minecraft. Creative in two very different ways.

They are very experience-oriented. They would rather go and do than get something in box. (Which makes buying presents much easier and more fun.)

George Anderson

To pick up on one of Gene’s points, the youngest of our children is approaching her ninth birthday. When we asked what she wanted for her birthday, she provided a list of activities she wanted to do with individual members of our family. Her adult-aged big sister is taking her for a day at the spa. She and mom are going to see Swan Lake together. It will be dinner and movie for we two. You get the idea. Not one single request for a product. For her, it’s about experiences and the memories she gets to keep after having had them. Not necessarily great news for companies that sell products off of shelves, but a glimpse into what she wants and perhaps enough information for them to make the types of changes that will attract her as she grows into an adult.

Tom Redd

I am with Anne. The issues with Generation Z will change when their Millennial parents learn how to raise kids — via talking with their parents and other Boomers. If Google is the parental advisor for Generation Z kids then the internet is their parent. And if that is the case then retailers can control these dingbats with cute, hip Netflix show stars. Sign contracts with Netflix or Hulu stars and let them promote your products. Get promo on the best YouTube videos. Boom — you own them because the internet is their parent.

Generation Z will end up as the next big mess of a generation, with parents that end up saying “I just didn’t know!” … Yeah, they were too busy texting with friends or watching cooking shows about kale.

Adrian Weidmann

Generation Z represents the future of retail. If you can reach and connect with this group that is as socially conscience as they are brand-aware they will reward you with their wallets — e-wallets! This audience want to consume lots of rich media in snack form — long-form text is completely lost to these consumers. A wonderful insight to this shopper can be found by listening to Logan LaPlante at a 2013 TEDx conference. If you can share your brand story in a meaningful way to this shopper you’ll be rewarded for years to come!

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)

Generation Z is more than Millennials-on-steroids as a consumer cohort because of their influence over every other family demographic — Boomers and savvy seniors in particular — with their wallets generally at the ready. Retailers ain’t seen nothin’ yet in the areas of shopper discovery, options assessment and gratification. The gazillion dollar question is, what will brand equity mean as Generation Z shifts toward their lifetime of consumer spending?

Liz Crawford

Generation Z will be more demanding of “instant” products and services — see today’s article “Amazon Delivers Beauty Products in an hour.” But they are also inured to using technology to shop and procure goods. That means that the role of the salesperson, or store assistant will be forever changed when they come of age. Retailers need to get ready for the next generation of shoppers to navigate merchandise with their mobiles and provide an individual experience for each.

Roger Saunders
Don’t jump to Generation Z just yet. If we define Generation Z as children born in 2001 and beyond, then stay focused on the Millennial generation. That is the largest portion of the population that will be raising Generation Z. The biggest difference that retailers will see in Generation Z is likely to be single parent households. Look to societal changes as well as demographics. In addition, incomes for Millennials have only started to accelerate in the past 18 to 24 months. Millennials, who are on the path of raising children, are bringing them through the pipeline in a far more accepting manner about race or ethnic differences. This will impact how Generation Z will shop in groups. Finally, Generation Z children will likely come from larger families. Millennials and Generation X, the offspring of Boomers, were emerging from households of about 2.1 children. Millennials will more likely have family sizes of 2.3 or more — three is a magic formula for the married Millennials at this stage, and some ethnic groups who have settled… Read more »
Ralph Jacobson

I think we must look at the diversity of Millennials, and even boomers to realize that all Gen Z people are not alike. There will be massive shifts in lifestyles … more experiential, for instance, than product-driven. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t huge brand/product opportunities with Gen Z.

Joan Treistman

Retailers will have to give up the notion that one brand competes with another. The competitive landscape is broader for Gen Z. Products and experiences are the competitors. Constant access to what is on trend or desirable among those around them and in their “world” will influence sales. Retailers have to be in the moment or they will be trail behind the revenue stream.

It’s time to bring in the advisory board made up of Gen Z members. Seriously. Meet with them regularly. Let them supply the information as to what’s going on in their “real world.” It’s up to the retailers to turn that input into insights for strategic decisions. But they have to be ready for a speedy turnaround — not always but more often than in the past.

Peter Charness

What comes after “Z”? …(AA)

Jasmine Glasheen
Jasmine Glasheen
Contributing Editor
2 years 6 months ago

Opposed to criticizing a generation we are only beginning to understand; let’s talk about how to market to these young people:

  • Generation Z is the most globally conscious generation yet. A successful brand is philanthropic. It needs a mission statement that shows how they fit into the puzzle.
  • These kids connect via social media – no one is unreachable. They want someone in the spotlight that they can relate to. Think Verizon’s Richard Branson. Successful companies have a spearhead people love.
  • This generation is bombarded with information. Clarity of speech and message are imperative. Work with a game plan including brand image and editorial voice. Be consistent.
  • Gen Z is incredibly visual. A great store design is one with opportunity for photo ops in unique backgrounds and lighting.
  • Growing up after the technological revolution means these children face the greatest generation gap in history.

Storytelling has found its Renaissance through social media and has a niche in marketing. Show photos of your products and the people who use them in real time.

Charles Dimov

Definitely agree with Liz that Gen Z is demanding of “instant products,” and with Jasmine about capturing them by showing the products visually with photos. Knowing the generation of kids hanging out at the mall is long gone (Gen Z is not into that) … it means the future of retail really has to be omnichannel retailing.

This means giving them the digital experience they want (order online, on mobile, on FB …), make it an amazingly easy and shareable experience (plenty of photos, like, tweet, share options), and give them “Instant Gratification” (pick up in store within 1 hour, confirm product ready for pickup within 1 minute…).

Dave Bruno
I have made a hobby of studying generations of shoppers, and while all generational attributes are interesting in their own right, I find these kids to be fascinating. Growing up amidst the financial disaster of 2008 – 2011 (ish) most have a strong regard for fiscal responsibility. As a whole, these teenagers actually try to save money! They still appreciate time spent in the mall, and while they are without a doubt mobile-savvy, they still appreciate the store as a shopping destination (more so than Millennials). Many people here have commented on the role of social media in their lives, which is clearly indisputable. But what I find especially interesting is their love for YouTube.They consume hundreds of hours of video content annually, and their favorite YouTubers are extremely influential. The top 5 YouTube stars today have greater Q Scores with teens than even the highest-profile pop stars like Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars. The opportunities to reach and influence this group are more diverse and more interesting than ever before, and I honestly can’t… Read more »
"If you can reach and connect with this group that is as socially conscience as they are brand-aware they will reward you with their wallets."
"I am with Anne. The issues with Generation Z will change when their Millennial parents learn how to raise kids..."
"...they are also inured to using technology to shop and procure goods ... the role of the salesperson, or store assistant will be forever changed..."

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