Bamboo Rose Blog | Retail News

Why retailers aren’t ready for Gen Z

Retailers have been hyper-focused on millennial consumers for years, and Gen Z is poised to pull off a sneak attack on the industry. The two generations may share similarities, but this new group of consumers (aged 13 through 21 today), brings a new suite of characteristics to the table. Having grown up with phones in their hands and information only a few taps away, this digitally savvy generation expects to receive what it wants when it wants it. Gen Z has a low tolerance for things that don’t work and is infamous for short attention spans, making it more important than ever for retailers to deliver high quality products as quickly as possible.


It’s not brain surgery – it’s brain science

Raised during an era of financial crisis and institutional instability, Gen Z is thrifty and cautious, but also industrious and collaborative. Despite an emphasis on personal privacy and a distrust of over-personalization, Gen Z expects transparency from brands, wanting everything from brand imagery to corporate values to be consistent and clearly communicated. They’re a tactile generation – relishing in trying products on, taking them apart, and recreating them. As true digital natives, Gen Z seeks a right brain experience with an immersive setup and stronger visual and audio engagement, which doesn’t fit with the typical left brain, linear retail approach.


The key to connecting with this highly selective younger generation is in offering high quality products they actually want to buy. Gen Z are masters at shopping around and are speedy decision-makers who know exactly what they want and are used to receiving things immediately. While using mobile devices more than a desktop to shop online, they quickly research, review and purchase products in an instant. Because of this, retailers need to be on their feet with every aspect of the product development process to ensure the product is what the consumer wants, is delivered quickly and draws zero complaints.


Successful retailers will take a hint from Gen Z themselves and connect with the larger retail community to tap into the wealth of knowledge from social tribes that is largely underutilized, the same way Gen Z leverages their own social community to stay informed and on top of trends. Suppliers, designers, mills and agents have valuable experience and expertise that will help retailers create high quality, targeted products for this notoriously selective generation. Additionally, retailers should approach purchasing in their job the same way they do in their personal life and find a more visual, collaborative process that would lead to more innovative products being brought to market in shorter amounts of time. Only when retailers use technology and digital media to improve the backend product development experience – similar to the way consumers use technology to shop – can they fully address Gen Z’s needs.


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