There’s probably nothing more generic than the phrase, “Let’s go shopping”! Over the years, how people go shopping has changed just as much as where they go shopping because with online purchasing, the how, where, when and why of shopping shifts – in an instant.
Consumers demand choices, more than ever before. With Generation Z moving into the forefront of retail business owners’ minds (as they should), the face of the retail online shopping experience is only part of the larger picture in targeting consumers’ wants to equal product niches and availability.
Retail Websites Need to Drive Intrigue, Not Just Sales
Some U.S. retail hubs, like JCPenney, have totally missed the mark on changing consumer behavior. Sure, they have websites, but doesn’t everyone? If your web presence isn’t more than a poster board for your corporate culture or a lengthy display ad for your wares, what is it really doing for you? Better yet, what is your website really doing for your customer?
According to senior national retail consultant Catherine Mountain, brick-and-mortar retailers have been closing their doors in record numbers in recent years because they were, and are still, “homogenized.”
“Generation Z wants a compelling reason to shop at your business,” said Mountain. “There has to be a good why. They have the money, but they don’t want their time wasted. When they figure out what they want, which might take a while, they are ready to act and don’t want to wait for delivery.”
Even online retail giant Amazon.com is opening physical stores, as Mountain pointed out.
If retail online shopping experiences don’t create interest or provide content that engages the viewer and leaves them wanting more, all you really have are multiple landing pages, a destination. Generation Z wants so much more. They want the journey.
Gen Z Craves Unique Experiences Where Retailers Provide the Tools
Though there are exceptions, as a whole, each generation comes with a mindset or unspoken cultural guidelines. The young people of Generation Z are fueled by innate intelligence and seldom take things at face value. Why should they? What gets their attention is unabashed authenticity, and more.
Generation Z appreciates:
- One-of-a-kind products
- Meaningful customer service
- Purchases with cause
- Good stories
Discriminating? Perhaps. Selective? Undoubtedly.
Where did this mentality come from? It came from them, honestly. In fact, it’s how Gen Z was raised.
Childhood and Parenting Play a Role
There is an interesting oxymoron embedded within Generation Z. On one hand, they are dedicated to social consciousness to a point where if you don’t have it, you’re just not good enough. On the flip side, they want to be taken care of through a level of service that is more than attentive, but actually intuitive. Is this an impossible expectation? Let’s dive deeper.
Digital communication for Gen Z is not a choice, but their only reality. The intuitive nature of the internet shopping experience over the years has blossomed and is somewhat oversaturated with deceptive pay-per-click ads and data-mining techniques that mirror online consumer behavior, to a point. Gen Z desires change, not merely for the sake of change, but with purpose. It’s just how their minds work.
Their parents believe in entrepreneurship and, more than likely, both are working. Helicopter moms were replaced by empowering role models that pushed coping skills instead of protective barriers.
These children and young adults are self-directed and do not have the fears that many millennials carry. If a Gen Z child wants to know something, there is no hesitation in asking. Their individuality is the new norm, as conventional attitudes are not only so yesterday, but offensive.
The Evolution of Shopping
For decades, there was an art in shopping known as salesmanship. Today, people don’t want to be sold, convinced or coerced into a single purchase. Generation Z personifies the compilation of generations before it.
Baby Boomers want their shopping experience to be simple, Generation Xers want it fast and millennials don’t want the purchase to involve any work, while Generation Z wants all of the above – but honest, transparent and specific to their needs, every time.
Many retail online shopping experiences include special rewards programs or referral incentives. These fall flat on the Generation Z population. They know that these programs are geared to benefit the retail business more than the customer, as businesses are trying to pursue customer retention and build their list of prospects.
Ernst & Young learned in a 2015 study that only 30 percent of Gen Zers thought that a rewards program made a store worth their attention, compared to 45 percent of millennials. To gain customer loyalty from Gen Z requires the retailer to show them respect and loyalty first. It appears that the adage “respect is earned, not given” is resurfacing.
Cause and Conscience Matters
Even the way business engages social consciousness has transformed. In the past, many companies included a charitable component as an afterthought or a requirement to garner tax benefits and positive press from the media.
Generation Z can see through it and demand that altruism is an integral part of a business’ platform. Even Stevens, a local sandwich shop in Gilbert, Arizona, fulfills the Gen Z requirement. For every sandwich it sells, the owners donate a sandwich to the hungry. To date, Even Stevens has provided more than 1.2 million sandwiches to help eradicate hunger in America.
What’s Your Story?
When you appeal to Generation Z, your marketing world opens wide with possibilities. This is the target audience that yearns for a good story. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and if your product/service and company culture resonates with them, they will be your best marketers.
Your brand voice will become their brand voice, socially sharing their consumer experience every step of the way. If you have an on-site retail center or store – the benefits are even better.
The Resurgence of Brick-and-Mortar Shopping
With research and inquisitiveness leading the buying lifecycle of Gen Z, many retailers are fulfilling the need for more a personal touch with the redesign or new construction of actual on-site stores.
International retail chain AllSaints has addressed the changing needs of the consumer to positively engage Generation Z. Young people can go to any AllSaints location, after ample research online, and gain more product knowledge from hipsters who live in big cities and speak their proverbial language.
AllSaints’ website, physical stores and customer experience engage interaction through a consistent, no-nonsense brand voice, displays, and high-end, private-label products.
Brick-and-mortar shopping isn’t a dinosaur. Generation Z has provided the reason to bring it all back in the form of shopping with purpose.
If your business needs an online refresh or strategic update to align with new target audiences, Eminent SEO can help! Give us a call at 800.871.4130 today to learn how.