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I recently wrote about how brands are targeting older generations.

But what about the other end of the age scale?

A new report by Shoppercentric suggests that Generation Z – those between the ages of 15 to 24 – are set to shape the future of retail. 

So, move aside millennials, here’s a closer look at how this ‘communicative, confident and complex’ consumer shops - as well as a few ways retailers are targeting them.  

Social media scanning

Unlike older generations who have gradually incorporated social media into their lives, Generation Z has grown up digitally-savvy.

The prevalance of smartphones means that social is intrinsic to the way this age group shops.

According to the Shoppercentric's research, 50% of Generation Z use Instagram, compared with 17% of older shoppers. 41% of these Generation Z Instagrammers also regularly use the network to contact retailers.

Instead of viewing social media solely as a way to keep in touch with friends and family, many young people don’t think twice about engaging with a brand online.

A retailer like ASOS is incredibly clever in how it capitalises on this.

With a heavy presence on all social channels – and specifically those with a teenage user-base like YouTube and Tumblr – it is highly visible to the eyes of young users.

Alongside their 'always on' nature, this also taps into the way Gen Z views shopping as a fun activity as opposed to a necessity.

With 62% of young people agreeing that online shopping is a great way to prevent boredom – ASOS knows that if they're 'always on', they're always open to buying.

Inspirational browsing

Today, one in two young consumers (53%) agree that smartphones enable them to get better information to help them buy in-store.

While spontaneous buying is also prevalent, this type of considered and thoughtful shopping is becoming all the more common, with younger shoppers typically searching online to gain inspiration.

Likewise, having been around to witness the 2008 recession, Gen Z are also unafraid to shop around for the best price as well as the best quality product.

Essentially, they are said to be much more open and inquisitive – responding to retailers that are able to validate their choices and instil confidence.

Missguided is one brand that appears to do this well.

Again, it uses mobile and social media to ensure it is present in the spaces that young shoppers spend their spare time, but more specifically, Missguided encourages user generated content to inspire purchases.

Its blog regularly features other bloggers and social influencers, promoting how they shop and style Missguided.

Combining social proof with editorial inspiration - the brand is a great example of how to use online content to engage a target market.

Shopping with a social conscience 

One of the most striking statistics from Shoppercentric’s report is that fewer than one in five of Generation Z feel that retailers don’t think they are important – compared to one in three of the general population.

This shows that younger generations recognise their own value, and in turn, have higher expectations when it comes to how they are treated by brands.

Alongside this confidence, Generation Z is increasingly empowered when it comes to social matters.

23% strongly agree that “we can make a difference to our future” – and this is reflected in how many companies are beginning to focus on social good.

Lush is one retailer that is typically loved by a younger generation, having built upon its cult status in YouTube haul videos and blogger reviews.

It also happens to be one of the most ethically-aware brands out there, only using fair-trade ingredients and setting up a number of charitable initiatives. 

Nicely combining this with a decent digital presence on mobile, Snapchat and Twitter - Lush ensures its young audience is well aware of its stance on important issues.

Looking for brand-led experiences

Generation Z are said to shop in-store an average of seven or eight times a month.

In contrast to older generations, shopping is also seen as more of a social activity than anything else. 

Consequently, retailers are beginning to focus on the in-store experience in order to meet this demand for fun and immersive shopping.

MAC make-up is one example of a brand to do this, designing stores that are specifically tailored to younger consumers.

Instead of focusing on sales or transactional elements, MAC’s youth-targeted stores are designed to be spaces that teens want to hang out in.

With dedicated hubs for make-up testing, taking selfies and generally spending time in-store – it encourages shoppers to linger and become immersed in the MAC world.

Lastly, this also falls in line with the trend for younger shoppers displaying intense loyalty towards the brands they love. 

Whether it’s MAC make-up, Glossier or Converse, brands typically loved by Generation Z - and that deliver on the aforementioned factors - tend to reach ‘cult’ status.

In conclusion...

While Generation Z is by no means the only demographic targeted by the likes of Missguided and MAC - it is clear that they are becoming more of a priority for retailers.

With an open-mind and a digital-first mindset, it is up to brands to deliver the kind of experiences they expect.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 23 November, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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