• Susan Dickenson

New study reveals Gen Z’s impatience and influence

Meet Generation Z. They’re Impatient, Tech-empowered And Quality-conscious. They Spend 75% Of Their Free Time Online, Prefer To Shop In Brick And Mortar Stores, And Play An Unusually Big Role In Influencing Their Parents’ Furniture-buying Decisions.

Those findings and more were highlighted last month during a National Retail Federation podcast in which Mark Mathews, the NRF’s vice president of research development and industry analysis, discussed results from a recent NRF/IBM study about the world’s youngest generation of consumers.

The study, one of the largest to date on the “post-Millennials,” surveyed 15,600 consumers between the ages of 13-21, in 16 countries across six continents.

It’s a powerful consumer group with $44 billion in buying power that, in 2015, influenced their parents’ purchasing decisions to the tune of $829 billion. The biggest category over which Gen Z-ers wield this influential power is, predictably, food and beverages (77%). But the next biggest category is furniture purchases (76%), made even more interesting when you learn that their influence with respect to toys and games is only 30%.

This is a group that has never known a world without the internet and mobile devices. Technology is second nature to them, and they’re far less tolerant of technical glitches than Millennials.

“They’re more impatient,” Mathews said in the interview, speaking about the differences between Gen Z and older generations. “They want things now … and they want a friction-less experience at retail.”

The also want to shop in brick and mortar stores. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of the Gen Z-ers surveyed said they prefer to make purchases in physical stores “most of the time” compared to the web (22%).

They like the social aspect, said Mathews, as well as the thrill of the hunt. “They don’t want to go to a rack with 200 of the same shirts. They want something individual and different, and they’re willing to go out and spend time searching for that unique item that helps their individual style.”

Once in the store, they care more about retail basics than bells and whistles: 66% say it’s very important the product is in stock, 65% look to maximize their savings with coupons, rewards programs and discounts, and 56% want a fun store experience.

When asked what most influences them when choosing one brand over the other, 66% said it’s the brand’s reputation for making quality products. Forty six percent said the recommendations and opinions of friends are important, and 45% said it’s important the brand is eco-friendly and socially responsible.

Part of the researchers’ data-gathering included talking with retail brands, who demonstrated varying degrees of responsiveness and understanding of the demographic, Mathews noted.

“Those in the (Gen Z) space are all over it, on top of, and understand the demographic. For others, where the brand doesn’t resonate with Gen Z, they have to go out to events like Coachella and associate their brand with what’s cool rather than try to convince them their brand is cool… and that seems to be working.”

Consumers of all ages have the world at their fingertips now, and can buy from anywhere, Mathews added, and that has made people of all ages more impatient – not just Gen Z-ers. “Retailers have to recognize that and offer something that appeals to the various generations, and they have to do it in a way that’s engaging and immediate.”

Susan DickensonSusan Dickenson | Editor in Chief

Susan Dickenson is the editor in chief of Home Accents Today, where she has spent more than a decade covering trending topics, best practices and news items pertaining to the manufacturing, retail and interior design segments of the home furnishings industry. A graduate of UNC, Dickenson spent 15 years in the Washington, D.C., area, writing and researching in both the public and private sector. After relocating to her native North Carolina in 2003, she freelanced as a writer of general interest, business, garden and home items for local and national publications before joining Home Accents Today in 2006 as retail editor.

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