Gen Z

What you need to know to reach young shoppers

By Rieva Lesonsky

Back in the day, retail changed forever as the baby boomers, then America’s largest generation, started buying stuff—and just kept spending. They were followed by an even larger generation—the millennials—who emulated their spending habits.

Now, “Gen Z is set to shake up the retail market just like millennials did when they first acquired their purchasing power,” according to eMarketer. Gen Z consumers  spend about $143 billion a year, according to Barkley, an “independent idea company” that defines Gen Z as 7-to-21-year-olds (though as we’ve noted before, different entities ascribe different dates to this generation). That amount is direct spending, not counting the money others spend on them.

Not surprisingly, this digitally native generation loves Amazon. eMarketer cites a survey from CPC Strategy showing 64% of women ages 18 to 24 bought clothes on Amazon in a 6-month period in 2018. Their main motivator was “free and fast shipping.”

But before you give up in despair, the NRF says Gen Z likes to shop in physical stores because it gives them a chance to spend time with their friends.

Want to reach Gen Z on social media? eMarketer says “Instagram and Snapchat are in, and Facebook is most definitely out.” Gen Zers also spend a good deal of time watching YouTube. However, eMarketer cites a 2018 EMI Research Solutions survey, showing 41% of 13- to 18-year-olds feel overwhelmed by the number of notifications they get on their smartphones.

Gen Z consumers want advertising to be “authentic”—in fact, 77% of teens say they like ads showing “real people in real situations.” Heather Watson, consulting and behavioral insights lead at the Center for Generational Kinetics, told eMarketer, “They don’t want photoshopped or airbrushed people. A brand has to put real customer testimonials on their YouTube pages.”

Perhaps most relevant to small businesses, eMarketer (which defines Gen Z as 16-to-21-year-olds) notes that these consumers are still young and their brand preferences are not “set in stone quite yet.” That means now is your chance to cater to them, make a good impression and earn their loyalty.

Young Shoppers stock photo by antoniodiaz/Shutterstock