Gen Z shopaholics: what they want, how they feel

adult-adventure-auto-2409681Gen Z consumers are emotionally fragile; addicted to (but also concerned about) spending time on social media; directly affected by what influencers think, say, do and wear; and love spending time in physical stores.

It seems the old idea of ‘retail therapy’ is still alive and well for them but less as the indulgent splurging of old and more about getting some balance back into their lives.

Who says so? The experts at researcher AT Kearney. They spoke to 1,500 North American consumers across various generations for their Future Consumer Report and came to some interesting conclusions.

It seems Gen Z feel heavily stressed and under pressure to be on-trend, and a quarter of them use shopping trips as a way to boost confidence even when they can’t afford it. Almost a third of them admit to buying stuff they can’t afford with heading-towards-half saying that shopping helps them feel more secure and confident about themselves.

Apart from wondering quite what that says about our society overall, it’s an interesting point for retailers seeking to connect with this generation.

Anything else? Yes, plenty. A quarter of them are heavily affected by online influencers and feel more confident about buying the products they endorse (so there you go, all that money spent on influencer marketing really was worthwhile). In fact, buying products like that makes them feel personally closer and more connected to those influencers, whether they’re bona fide celebrities or the social media variety.

The survey also showed that these consumers love going into physical shops and value the experience there even more than the generations just above them. That’s partly because it allows them to disconnect from social media. They may love social media but they also feel that being ‘always on’ isn’t good for their mental health.

They love the whole physical experience of discovering, testing and buying something, and while they want digital elements like kiosks and personalised recommendations, their priority also includes fun things like physical shop exclusives, contests and giveaways.

The downside of all this is that this is they’re a cash-strapped generation and don’t want to pay a premium when they shop. But they do place a high value on certain types of product – anything in simple packaging that’s also eco-friendly, anything environmentally sustainable and locally sourced/made, and they really like a curated in-store experience that focuses on not-too-many products.

Oh, and if retailers get it wrong, this is the generation most likely to shift their custom elsewhere. No pressure then.

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