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By Molly Wike – Retail Customer Experience

The Generation Z consumer — born between the late 1990s and early 2000s — is often a mind-boggling group for retailers attempting to develop and market products. Communicating with this tech-savvy audience can prove difficult and a prime reason is that many retailers are reading them all wrong.

One big misconception involves the Z shopper’s desire to shop online vs. in-store, as revealed in a new Interactions study. Many retailers believe the Z audience is more engaged online. However, the findings report the majority prefer purchasing at brick-and-mortar locations.

The focus, according to the study, is for retailers to provide Gen Z shoppers the experience they are expecting and that requires bringing mobile into the picture.

“Mobile apps that save Gen Z time and money will better position retailers to engage not only with current customers, but potential buyers as well. Any type of technology that makes the shopping experience as seamless as possible will do quite well with this particular demographic,” Rekha Ramesh, global IT and digital strategy head and analyst for the study, told Retail Customer Experience in an interview.

In addition assigning someone to stay alert and look for “what’s next” could mean serious success for the brand. Therefore, in order to reach the audience, it may be time to focus your marketing campaign on creating the ultimate digital experience, advised Ramesh.

“Engaging with Gen Z via text message and alerting them of new products or special promotions is a great way to get their attention,” she said. “Once they actually walk through the doors, the retailer’s next step is to make sure they are keeping this level of engagement up in-stores. This can be executed by having in-store demonstrations, or digital displays,” Ramesh continued. So not only will text messaging connect retailers to mobile users, but it caters to the generation’s desire for instant gratification, she explained.

To further tap into this consumer expectation, retailers should consider running promotional text messages or alerts, which satisfies both instant gratification and the need to market word-of-mouth.

While face-to-face communication may not be at an all-time high, according to the study, 82 percent of shoppers are influenced by others on social media. So, retailers need to be seen and heard. Create conversation about products, give consumers a chance to share what they’re using or wearing and let them market for you, and don’t let technology intimidate your strategy.

The use of mobile devices in-store provides a big well of opportunity given the potential for apps. Apps allow consumers to connect with promotions, and allow for mobile payment options. Over 75 percent of this generation reported they were likely to make a purchase from somewhere that offered mobile payment options.

Some key ways to implement these tips include:

  • Providing in-store experiences that meet expectations
  • Staying up-to-date with social media and apps
  • Delivering quality products
  • Constantly assessing and improving loyalty programs.

The report found 89 percent of Z consumers would rather spend money on experiences than tangible goods and thatGen Zs are looking for retailers that engage with customers in an innovative approach. Since many shoppers have a phone in hand at all times, traditional marketing practices are not reaching this audience as effectively as they have in the past. Interaction’s report found 60 percent of shoppers prefer to interact with retailers that connect with them on social media.

The study also revealed:

  • 89 percent of Gen Z shoppers are highly price conscious
  • 64 percent prefer purchasing higher quality items in-stores
  • 82 percent are persuaded by others on social media to shop at new places

Engagement, according to the study, is key: Know where your customers are, engage them there, and be one step ahead.

“Always look for ‘what’s next’ and analyze how a new social media app may benefit the end customer, whether it’s Snapchat, Instagram or Periscope. Remember, not every new app will be right for your company but it’s important to be aware,” said Ramesh.

Reprinted with permission from

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