MERGE Insights

Retail Innovation Week Recap: Decoding Gen-Z

The Future Mindset Inspiring Next Generation Retail

It’s hard to believe, but Gen Z is becoming a strong driving force as the generation that is shaping the retail industry. With the oldest in the generation now 25 years old, brands should be looking at this generation’s approach to life, what they value and how that may shape the future retail experience.

 

According to experts during Retail Innovation Week’s panel discussion, this group is a “hyper-cognitive generation that collects and cross-references many sources of information and integrates virtual and offline experiences.” So, what does that mean? They are fluid and creative and blend their very complex online and offline worlds seamlessly.

 

Beyond their online and offline blended life, Gen Z also has distinct values that definitely shape their approach to brands.

 

Breaking Down Gen Z

Here is a breakdown of the top values and characteristics of Gen Z:

  • Environmentally Minded. 76% say climate change is one of the biggest concerns. This concern is even shaping career paths as many are going into careers focused on the environment and climate change. This is also a big indicator that they are driving digital sustainability.
  • Socially Conscious. Gen Z is hyper-connected. 9 in 10 feel that companies have a responsibility to address social issues. Think about how that affects how they spend their money to support brands.
  • Unapologetically Expressive. 56% consider themselves creative. They have platforms and tools to create and co-create with brands. Any quick scroll through TikTok or Instagram will prove this easily enough.
  • Well-Being Focused. 72% say managing stress and mental health is their most important health and wellness concern.

 

The interesting thing is that this generation’s values are not just contained within themselves. A halo effect also influences other generations. Their Millennial parents or Gen X grandparents may be influenced by their use of technology. The ripple of change may also cause momentum with other creative individuals who are Millennials or Boomers. This has created a new shopper persona.

 

The Radical Value Seeker

This new retail consumer is mainly comprised of Gen Z but does span beyond to include like-minded creative individuals from other generations. They are social and human, radically optimistic, purposeful and authentic and leading with empathy and emotion.

 

The Radial Value Seeker wants more from their brands. 85% of these consumers across all demographics expect brands to operate with a purpose. Additionally, they are being called the “New Optimist” because of their incredibly optimistic mindset. Because of COVID, over the past two years, this group has put increased importance on human connection and a sense of community. Finally, the empathetic and emotional element of this consumer comes to life in the retail space, where they want brands to understand them to deliver authentic experiences. Retailers should be asking themselves how these experiences evoke emotion within these individuals.

 

What Does This Mean for Brands?

With all of this said, here is what brands should consider when it comes to building experiences for Gen Z and the Radical Value Seeker:

  • It’s all about bringing communities together, whether it’s online or offline. Actually, it’s about both. And it should be seamless.
  • Gen Z and the Radical Value Seeker are ready to create and co-create with brands. Encourage play, especially post-pandemic. By tapping into their creativity, brands could have tons of micro-influencers ready to hop on their platforms and become new brand ambassadors ready to amplify their message.
  • Lean into their drive of purpose and value, but make sure it’s authentic. How can a brands’ values align with the passions and values of this group?
  • Find ways to evoke true human and emotional elements to create a relationship with consumers in a genuine way. When the consumer walks away from a brand experience, what will be the lasting emotion that they feel?