Ask anyone between the ages of 13 and 21 (what we now lovingly call our Gen Z group) how they want to shop, they will, with little surprise, tell you “fast” and “I want it now.” Gen Z’s are interacting with multiple social networks and shopping channels at once, and they expect online stores to co-exist and aid in their shopping spree! They want technology to be relevant and help them to have a unique shopping experience. And as a growing force in the shopping power scale, projected to be 2.56 million strong by 2020, it would be a huge mistake to ignore the wants of this particular customer group.

An interesting study recently published by the IBM Institute of Business Value and the National Retail Federation supported the Gen Z shopping style with a number of interesting stats. They surveyed 16,000 Gen Z’s and some of the most important things desired when shopping across channels and devices were:

  • 49% – Say they want the ability to find what they want quickly
  • 44% – Say they want the ability to decide how and where to shop
  • 41% – Say they want access to the best deals
  • 36% – Say they want a speedy shopping and checkout experience
  • 30% – Say they want the choice of different ways to pay
  • 28% – Say they want high-quality customer service

So to keep up with Gen Z shoppers we must learn to reach them on the platforms where they spend their lives. With that goal, social media becomes a critical part of the journey. That is where they interact with their influencers; paying attention to likes, shares and recommendations. In addition to shopping, 73 percent say they use their mobile device for social interaction – and not only with their besties from AP History. Facebook and IG seem to be where the activity of social engagement and shopping appear to collide. According to the report, 39 percent of the Gen Z age group say they found it important to interact with brands on social media, but 45 percent said they never have.

Alongside that, Gen Z shoppers are looking for value, not just in the best price deals and through products that communicate value but also in the technical tools that they use. Full adoption of the mobile phone environment is a must for all brands since the newest iPhone or Droid is a cornerstone in the lives of the vast majority of all 13-21 years olds. Let’s face it – do many of them know how to communicate without one? 75 percent of the respondents in the IBM survey selected mobile phones as their device of choice, with a quarter of them spending at least 5 hours a day on their phone. But (and parents of this demographic will find this shocking), it seems as though they are using that time wisely. 47 percent are using the device while shopping in a store to research products, compare prices and find discounts. So it turns out that Gen Z’s are eating up your data to save money in other ways.

If brands, and the companies that support them, continue to understand the ever evolving and breathtaking pace of incoming consumer generations, like the Gen Z’s, and stay in touch with how these groups are interacting with the technology they use, there is hope.

Not sure where to start? Interested in learning more about how the Human Element team can help your eCommerce company reach these hard-to-please consumer groups? Our development, experience design and marketing teams are skilled in addressing and satisfying online shoppers’ needs, and in finding ways to communicate brand value and purpose. Get in touch!