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Opinion

Post-millennials – Generation Z, who are they and how do retailers attract them?

The future is here, and we should be embracing it. For retailers to continue to grow and succeed it’s important to lead the trends rather than follow them, and, most certainly the newest customers out there are the ones we should be keeping pace with. 

Generation Z can be roughly described as those born from the mid-1990s until the early 2000s. Yes, I said ‘born’ then (I thought I’d repeat that to ensure you’re all feeling as old as I am). This newest demographic is reaching its early twenties or late teens and are out there, right now, shopping, spending, influencing, sharing, posting, creating, living and powering a large chunk of our economy. Nowhere is this more felt than in the retail sector. Recently Generation Z became the largest global consumer segment and now accounts for 32 percent of the global population.

If you think millennials were cashed-up, hard to pin down, and demanding, wait until you see the next evolution of young minds.

For retailers, this is a big challenge and implementing the same tactics that were implemented to attract millennials won’t cut the mustard this time. As my son, Alex – a proud Gen Z – tells me, Generation Z cannot remember a pre-digital life and therefore see brands firstly as a source of online entertainment or experience, and only secondly as a promise of quality or collection of attributes of a product or service. A brand or retailer’s high digital capabilities or amazing social content no longer impress – they are just a given.

This thirst for entertainment and experience is also manifesting in different ways. Some say than Generation Z will be more drawn to bricks and mortar than their millennial predecessors, but will come back to the instore environment looking for the social and experiential ways of interacting with their favourite brands, rather than to actually make a purchase – something that will be done from their device, while in the store, or sometime after.

Sustainability and environmental impact are high on the agenda for any member of Generation Z. They actively look for retailers and brands who do their best to minimise negative environmental impacts, and brands and retailers who do so will be held in higher esteem. For them, brands must be accountable for their actions and authentic in how they mitigate environmental side effects. And don’t even think about giving them a single-use plastic bag.

Tech-savvy, marketing-savvy, harder to impress, a unique value system, a short attention, a thirst for entertainment and experience, it’s no doubt that Generation Z are going to be the toughest nut to crack yet, for retailers and brands. 

However, already they are refreshing and energising the retail industry with their demand for experience and activities and shaping a more sustainable future. As the unstoppable tide of ‘the future’ rolls on, for retailers it’s time to start adapting, to keep up, and ensure that your business is ready for the next wave of young adults, spending in their chosen Gen Z way.

Author: Gary Rohloff – Co-founder & Managing Director of Laybuy, NZ’s largest and Australia’s newest ‘buy now, pay later’ platform.

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