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Who are Generation Z and how will their behaviour influence in-store marketing decisions?

Who are Generation Z and how will their behaviour influence in-store marketing decisions?

August 17,2016 Posted by Libby Davies

Millennials, Millennials, Millennials… when it comes to brands engaging consumers, Millennials and the way they like to do things are often at the centre of innovative marketing strategies. This is only natural, considering that for many retailers, Millennials are their prime target group. But, when it comes to connecting with and understanding consumers, what about the generation after Millennials?

Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2012) are quickly gearing up to overtake Millennials as the prime demographic – and the impact this will have when the switch occurs will be enormous.

Currently, Generation ‘Z’ are the largest of any living group in the US, and by 2020 they will make up 40% of the global population. With steady incomes stemming from allowances and part-time jobs, they also have incredible spending power right now - $44billion, to be exact. By 2018, this will have increased to $200billion.

Yet, despite their influence on not only their own spending, but also their parents’ (70% of parents say their Gen Z children influence their buying decisions), many retailers find Generation Z to be an elusive and difficult group to pin down. What makes them tick? How can they be engaged? There is only a small age gap between the youngest Millennials and the oldest Gen Z’s, (with the years 1995-2000 often being something of a grey area) but there are huge differences in the way that these groups behave as consumers.

Understanding these differences is vital when it comes to successfully implementing digital strategies that will attract, engage and maintain a Gen Z shopper’s attention – what works well for one does not always necessarily work well for another.


The Profile of a Gen Z Shopper


For the most part, Generation Z and Millennials have many similar attributes and personality traits. However, there are fundamental disparities that present themselves as differences in consumer behaviour.

60% of Generation Z’s want to ‘change the world’ (compared to only 39% of Millennials) and as a group, they are incredibly entrepreneurial. Over 80% of Gen Z’s say they would like to find a way to transform their hobby into their work, and they believe that anything can be achieved through the power of online communities.

They are activists, go-getters, and they dream big.

All of these traits combine to create a demographic that is extremely tech-savvy, empowered and connected. Gen Z also value creativity; 65% of them actively create and share content across social media platforms (usually via fresher apps such as Snapchat or Instagram as opposed to Facebook or Twitter) and 25% will post original videos on a weekly basis.

For the brands wanting to tap into the Generation Z market, their social media strategies must be constantly evaluated and updated, with fresh and engaging content being shared frequently:


  • 82% of Gen Z say that opinions of others on social media have led them to shop at a retailer they have never shopped at before
  • 77% browse social media to look for ideas on what products to purchase
  • 60% would actively choose to shop at a retailer that connects with them through social media channels over one that doesn’t.
  • 69% have visited a retailer’s store as a result of that retailer’s social media post

- ‘The Next Generation of Retail’ Report



Brands also need to keep their fingers on the pulse of which new apps are popular with the teen demographic; the likes of Snapchat or Instagram have a huge Gen Z following, with one-quarter of 13-17 year olds abandoning Facebook in favour of the fresher, visually-led platforms.


Gen Z prefer bricks over clicks


It is often presumed that having grown up in a world where the internet is the ‘go-to’ source for virtually any aspect of life, Gen Z shoppers would naturally prefer to shop online rather than in-store. However, perhaps surprisingly, this is not the case. Retail Perceptions’  ‘Next Generation of Retail’ Report showed that most Gen Z consumers actively prefer to shop in a brick-and-mortar store, placing more value in the experience they have over tangible goods. This does not mean that retailers have an easy path ahead – quite the opposite, in fact. Whilst Gen Z does prefer to shop in-store, they also expect the best features of online shopping to still be present – in short, the need for retailers to provide a seamless, omnichannel experience has never been so high.

As Generation Z matures and their spending power increases, mobile will continue to grow as a vital element in any retailer’s digital strategy. Apps and mobile-optimised sites will prove to be a vital link in allowing retailers to connect with their Gen Z shoppers, with the opportunity they provide for two-way communication being a real benefit for brands and consumers alike.


(Video) Content is King


Unlike their Millennial counterparts, Generation Z have been born and raised never having known a world without the instant gratification of the internet. They are accustomed to constant connectivity, and find it second-nature to multitask on multiple devices (the average being five screens at any one time.) For these reasons, traditional marketing tactics simply do not resonate with Gen Z shoppers in the same way they might with Millennials. Whereas Millennials thrive on personalised texts, notifications or email campaigns, Gen Z tend to respond to edgier marketing strategies that have been constructed on a visual basis. When presented with a generation that has an average attention span of 8 seconds, and whose favourite website is YouTube (vs a Millennial’s Amazon), marketers need to find ways to tap into this visual preference. A typical Gen Z shopper will watch 2 hours of YouTube per day, and so campaigns that have real visual depth will capture attention and ignite interest in ways that other advertising formats (such as written email campaigns, for example) will often struggle to do. Consequently, short bursts of video content prove to be especially popular with younger consumers.


Given the perfect combination of a Gen Z shopper’s preference for engaging in-store experiences and for video content, digital signage systems will be the ultimate tool that a retailer can utilise to engage their younger customers. Digital signage has proven to be hugely popular across a variety of demographics and generations, and digital content is already one sure-fire way to spice up any marketing campaign. However, when it comes to Generation Z, the predetermined link between their natural affinity with easily digestible video content and a marketer’s intention to target and inspire consumers means that digital signage systems will deliver campaigns that are sure to resonate in an all together more meaningful way than we have seen in the past. Attention-grabbing, eye-catching video walls are already a fantastic way of deploying digital content to engage more mature shoppers – imagine the potential for engaging Gen Z if they were encouraged to contribute to the display. By blending the best aspects of social media and digital signage solutions, retailers can encourage Gen Z to share their new outfits or post a video detailing their favourite products, to be displayed in-store. Building upon the levels of personalisation that we have already seen work with Millennials, Gen Z can be inspired and engaged in their own, unique way, marking the start of a beautiful friendship between a brand and their newest demographic.



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