After endless conversations about the importance of work/life balance, viral Facebook videos featuring the cutest dogs on the block, and complaints about the woes of buying a car, it seems Millennials are losing their place in the spotlight. With a global population of two billion, Gen Z is taking the world by storm and quickly stealing center stage in the eyes of the retail community. Born after 1998, this group already comprises one fourth of the US population and wields a $44 billion purchasing power in the United States alone. This figure is staggering when you consider that most of them are still in elementary school.

What is so unique about Gen Z?

How does this affect retail?

And most importantly, what role does intelligent Digital Signage Software play?

For starters, they are the only generation to grow up with a complete adoption of technology. Millennials were eased into the technology age, and in a sense, have been guinea pigs paving the way for Gen Z’s full access to advanced technology like laptops, tablets, desktops, and television from infancy.  As weird as it may sound, they have never existed in a world devoid of technology. It is a common part of their existence, and it shows. Screenagers and Digital Natives are just a few words being tossed around to describe this bunch, but there is no denying the fact that retailers are poised and ready to tackle this new generation.

As exciting as a digital generation can be, brick and mortar retailers have to be at the top of their game to evolve and surmount the obvious challenges that a plugged-in generation can pose. Marketing plans formulated to speak their language have the potential to draw in a loyal consumer base from this group, but interactive digital signage content and automatic placement of customized messaging that drives sales is where the real opportunity lies.

  1. An Interconnected Shopping Experience

To attract Gen Z, large retailers need to focus on providing a seamless and fluid shopping experience for their audiences. Surprisingly, Gen Z consumers are omnichannel shoppers and their constant access to smartphones does not limit their purchases to the mobile web. Instead, they consistently use social media to check out products, try on their favorite styles in stores, and search online for product information. This makes digital signage for retail more essential than at any other time in history. It must compliment the online shopping experience and fall in line with the overall brand image to drive traffic to all channels.

  1. Bring Social Values to Center Stage

Socially conscious and environmentally products are not old hat. Like generations before, Gen Z  seeks out retailers with an authenticity that feels worthy of their investment. Digital signage displays and interactive technology that compliment a store’s efforts or events focused on sustainability will attract an audience and create a positive buzz around the brand.

  1. Information is Key

Gen Z is much more focused on easily accessible information than other generations before. They won’t tolerate difficult to navigate e-commerce stores, especially with massive retailers like Amazon that promises to meet their every need. In fact, 80% said they would navigate to Amazon or a similar online store if they do not have the immediate ability to ask questions on a product page.  Similarly, customer service desks in store are going to gain traction and produce a quantifiable conversion to goals as they answer questions in real-time and cater to the under 18 demographic.

  1. Focus on Pricing

Gen Z consumers are trending towards conservative financial values. Likely, this is the result of rising prices, the college debt waiting for them after graduation, and their desire to be entrepreneurs. Career aspirations like this require risk and substantial capital, so they are preparing at a young age. Practicality is also a defining characteristic of the demographic. They value holding products in their hand and avoiding shipping charges. These preferences are encouraging for brick-and-mortar retailers. Digital signage can capitalize on these tendencies by incorporating price information and comparing the offers of competitors to show that these conscious consumers are getting the best deal.

  1. After Hours Shopping is Always Encouraged

Store hours are not going to stop Gen Z consumers from spending money. The local mall may not be their only shopping destination, but the after-hours offerings in the same complexes, like movie theaters and restaurants, are still bustling long after the retailers close their doors. Street and store-front digital signage will encourage shoppers to hop online when their favorite store is closed for the night or travel back over the next morning. Someone walking to a restaurant to meet friends might be transformed into a customer in moments when the right digital sign is used.

The goal of studying Gen Z, even though the core members are still under 18, is essential to making them loyal customers as soon as they enter adulthood. The most encouraging thing to note is their dedication to the traditional brick and mortar shopping options. Over 60% would rather shop in a physical store than its digital counterpart, according to a Fall 2015 study conducted by Piper Jaffray called Taking Stock with Teens. For retailers who understand this generation has been plugged in from birth, the incorporation of – smart, analytics driven, and individual focused digital signage will be essential to draw Gen Z into the store and turn them into devoted customers for years to come.

Photo Credit: iStock