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Making it click with the Gen Z

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Amit Srivastava, CEO, Smollan India on keeping up with Generation Z shoppers who are smart, determined, picky, spoilt for choice, and will soon have immense buying power

Amit Srivastava

Millennials may have dominated the global population over the past few years, but we now
have a new kid on the block — Generation Z. Born between the mid-1990s and the early-mid 2000s, Gen Z is quickly becoming the new focus demographic for brands across the world. Thanks to their growing buying power, these digital natives are changing the face of shopping across industries and sectors. According to a recent Bloomberg report, buyers in this generation have a combined spending power of $360 billion.

How do you, as a brand, tap into this promising market and cater to what Gen Z shoppers
expect? The trick is to understand how this new wave of shoppers is different, what the new generation wants, and how you can deliver it.

What sets Gen Z shoppers apart?

The first piece of the puzzle is decoding how the young consumers flooding the market are
different from their predecessors. What worked for the millennials may not cut it for this new generation.

Gen Z shoppers have had access to smartphones from the average age of 12, as opposed to millennials, who were 16 years old. This gap might only be of four years, but it means that Gen Z is made up of digital natives who have long been familiar to social media and online trends. For Gen Z, social media is the largest platform for product or brand discovery, second only to endorsements by trusted acquaintances. Given that this generation of shoppers also places importance on online ratings, reviews, and blogs while making decisions, brands need to pay special attention to how they interact with them online.

Gen Z prioritizes authenticity and sustainability to a greater degree. They exhibit a deep sense of social responsibility, and thus naturally rate brands that take sustainability initiatives seriously higher than those that don’t. They tend to select brands whose values align with theirs, even if it means paying a premium.

First impressions matter a great deal. As Sitecore reports, around 38% of Gen Z gives
businesses only one-second chance before moving on to a competitor. Young buyers, whose
patronage may be hard to earn, also look for brands that offer a conversation instead of a
monologue.

They love experiential retail. Shopping for Gen Z is not just about browsing and buying. They crave a more comprehensive shopping experience that includes pop-ups by niche and
upcoming businesses, meet-and-greet events at shopping outlets, and wellness spaces that
bring in an element of self-care.

Phygital over digital. Interestingly, they want another thing that most brands tend to overlook— a combination of digital and in-store experiences. Studies show that many young consumers prefer brick-and-mortar stores for various product segments. A survey by Path found that 48% of Gen Z buyers like to shop for beauty products in-person, while 79% prefer to shop for groceries in physical stores.

On the flip side, the younger generation doesn’t quite want one-size-fits-all solutions. Little
things like service loyalty rewards, tailored pricing, and even simply remembering their
birthday matters greatly to modern Gen Z shoppers.

Keeping up with Gen Z

If you’re in the retail segment, you need a framework that caters to the younger generation. Hyper-personalisation is a good place to begin at. Don’t be afraid to take their purchase history into account or set up an automated tailored messaging system for your younger customers. Gen Z in India values honesty and authenticity, and if your outreach ticks these boxes, you’re off to a great start.

Another thing you can do to draw in Gen Z is streamlining the mobile experience you offer.
This makes it easier for the younger generation to discover your brand and get to know you
better. Social media heavily influences their choices of new purchases. Knowing how a
particular product solves their issue or addresses their needs is very important to them when switching brands or products. This sort of a personal touch, these personalized solutions to their problems seem key to catching their interest.

Gen Z shoppersAdding a shopping experience at the point of purchase to help them choose the right product for their needs can further help in decision-making. Brand activations like interacting with brand ambassadors, testing, gamification, and other in-person experiences can attract their attention and create opportunities for brand engagement.

Striking a fine balance between unattended and experiential retail works wonders. These may be at the opposite ends of the retail spectrum, but by offering the right mix of both these solutions, your retail brand can secure a spot in every Gen Z’s list of favourites.

Variety plays a crucial role in their decisions about where to shop because these young buyers do not want to be reined in and forced to choose from one of two choices. Give Gen Z a wide range of products to choose from, and they’re likely to be happier.

The way forward

The Gen Z shoppers of today are smart, determined, picky, spoilt for choice, and will very soon have immense buying power.

Looking at the preference for work-life balance in this young generation, travel, hospitality,
and lifestyle brands can expect a boost going forward. Similarly, the post-pandemic awareness around health is likely to benefit brands in the sports and athleisure categories.

The good news is that Gen Z buyers are nothing if not vocal about what they want and what they don’t.

Gen Z as a new shopper segment may appear to be demanding, but in the long run, this will undoubtedly be a good thing. These young customers push brands in the right direction, blur the gap between big and small businesses, drive quicker tech adoption and ask for accountability.

Retailers that redefine their strategies specifically for this generation can not only stay ahead of the game but will also benefit from everything that Gen Z stands for — namely authenticity, sustainability, and progress.

Amit Srivastava is the Chief Executive Officer of Smollan India.

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