Welcome to today’s teenager and the future of retail everywhere, according to global design consultancy, Fitch.
Defined as those born after 1995; Gen Z is money shrewd, cynical of marketing ploys, and happy to browse all options before purchasing.
According to Fitch, which surveyed teenagers in China, Russia, and Europe, “the old rules of retail no longer apply” to this generation.
Unlike their elders, Gen Z displays a “real gap between seeing and buying”, with social media, scrapbooking, and price comparison sites fundamental to their buying experience.
Alasdair Lennox, creative director of Fitch, told Inside Shopper that this more complex path to purchase is changing the face of retail globally.
“It’s all about keeping the brand and potential purchase front of mind during this extended aspirational browse period,” he says.
This means responding with a seamless, omni-channel experience; quick and timely delivery; and constantly evolving technology.
When it comes to store design, Gen Z orientates by contrast and colour, navigates primarily at eye level, and is largely unresponsive to signage.
They’re also wary of hidden price tags, as this could mean an item is beyond their budget, and hushed store environments.
“Music signifies open for business; silence suggests closing time,” reads Fitch’s Gen Z Shopping report.
Lennox says retailers and brands can overcome Gen Z’s tendency towards delayed gratification by offering them instore experiences.
“Retailers and brand owners need to create their own signature experience by creating a bespoke five-point path to purchase,” says Lennox.
Examples listed by Fitch include The Puma Creative Factory, where customers are involved in the design process, and Lego’s interactive play areas for children.
According to Fitch, today’s 14 to 19 year olds will be the largest group of consumers worldwide by 2020, making up 40 per cent in the developed world.
It lists Asos, Urban Outfitters, Beats by Dre, and Sneakerpedia, an initiative by the US version of Foot Locker, as best case examples of Gen Z retail.
Fitch’s Gen Z Shopping: Designing Retail for the Constant State of Partial Attention is available to download in full online.