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Gen Z Takes Over the Consumer Driver’s Seat

Millennials are no longer the coveted shopper demographic of global retailers.

Gen Z, also known as individuals born in or after ‘95, will progress retail’s digital evolution and be retailers’ next targeted audience. With an average attention span of 8 seconds and most having owned at least one mobile device since they were five years old, Gen Z will control the retail industry in the next five years.

At Première Vision New York, MintModa co-founder and chief marketing officer Jerry Inman discussed how retailers could hone in on Gen Z’s needs and prepare for the industry’s new consumer generation. Inman emphasized how retailers need to retract from their old methodology and let the Gen Z consumer dictate their own style persona.

“It is the first time the consumer is in charge, not the retailer,” Inman said. “The retailer has been in charge for decades.”

Last year, retail foot traffic saw an average decline of 7.2 % and mall traffic has declined 30 percent in the last decade. But the game isn’t over for retailers who have relentlessly pursued millennials. Seventy-two percent of Gen Z members said they would go to a shopping mall if it was an interesting trip.

So how could retailers secure Gen Z shoppers? Surprisingly, mobile apps aren’t the most convenient decision.

“Gen Z has generally less than 10 apps on their phone,” Inman said. “Retailers that want to build an app have to think about it.”

Although Gen Z members are the most tech-savvy generation, their shopping process doesn’t end with a product. To them, that product represents their personal style and executes a retailer’s positive market presence.

Inman proposed a few solutions for retailers, including embracing consumer diversity and implementing a social branding cause.

Today, a select group of retailers, including Urban Outfitters, are winning the Gen Z shopper. Not only do they offer on-demand merchandise, but their product lineups are relatable to a variety of young people’s styles. Traditional retail would execute what the consumer desires. These game-changer retailers do the contrary and let the Gen Z shopper choose what they want to buy without burdening them with faulty promotions or limited inventory.

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Gen Z shoppers also value how retailers contribute to humanitarian and environmental efforts. This generation is curious about how products affect labor and the environment, not just their own wardrobes.

“When you are communicating about your brand, you have to talk about what the impact is,” Inman said.

A social branding cause enables retailers to demonstrate community initiatives and have a positive digital imprint. For example, if a retailer posts on Instagram about a local beach cleanup or clothing drive, this provides Gen Z shoppers the opportunity to witness the retailer’s efforts and become involved. Furthermore, a social branding cause provides transparency between retailers and Gen Z shoppers. Retailers promote better labor laws and sustainable sourcing, meanwhile Gen Z shoppers take part in these efforts with their purchases and social media engagement.

Gen Z shoppers are taking over the consumer driver’s seat, but it isn’t a lost cause for retailers. By promoting consumer diversity and fostering a social branding cause, retailers can secure the loyalty of this new generation and remain successful in the future.

With Gen Z on retail’s horizon, Inman said the following to retailers: “If you are not disruptive today, you will be disrupting tomorrow.”