5 ways retailers can tap into the power of Gen Z shoppers

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Gen Z is fast becoming the “future of retail.” This latest generation to enter the workforce has an undeniably strong influence on brands’ bottom lines, which is pushing savvy retailers to rethink their approach to customer experience (CX).

This presents huge opportunities for retailers, but also some significant challenges. Gen Zers consume products very differently than previous generations: they’re more likely to buy products endorsed by influencers, seek the ease of buying products through social media channels, and want to support brands they can feel good about.

They’re also much less brand-loyal than the generations that came before them, meaning retailers have to work even harder to retain these young shoppers once they have them.

Here are 5 ways to tap into the Gen Z market.

1. Use social media to drive purchases
Young shoppers want the ability to buy goods and services directly through the social platforms where they spend much of their time. A whopping 83% of GenZers say some or all of their shopping originates on social media.

To stay competitive and get Gen Zers’ attention, retailers need to have a high profile on social media channels – not only making it easy for shoppers to buy in those channels, but also to influence those purchases along the way. This generation is moving away from the traditional mindset of “I know what I want, and I want to research it” and moving into the mindset of “I want to find things I didn’t even know that I needed.” The potential for brands to influence their buying decisions is huge.

Most brands are investing in social commerce, with 44% using it and another 36% planning to expand their use of it over the next year, according to a Forrester report commissioned by Emplifi that surveyed 154 marketing and CX executives in late 2022. Those that aren’t focused on these selling opportunities will lose money and customers to retailers that are.

Social commerce is expected to keep growing, becoming an increasingly crucial part of retail equation – particularly for brands in fashion, the category seeing the biggest growth in social commerce.

2. Offer a good loyalty program
Loyalty programs are gaining traction with Gen Zers. About a third (34%) of them use a loyalty or a rewards program, up 17% since the end of 2021.

Loyalty programs have traditionally been favored by older generations, but their appeal is growing among Gen Z for several reasons. Gen Zers have less money saved than older generations, less purchasing power, and little financial security. All these factors make them more likely to seek out loyalty and rewards programs in the hopes of keeping a little more money in their pockets.

3. Tout your social conscience
Gen Zers care more about how you run your business – how you treat your employees and source your products – than any generation that’s come before them. They want to spend their dollars supporting brands they feel share their ethics and values.

Unidays, a discount website that caters to college students and studies Gen Z buying habits found in recent research that:

  • 55% of students are buying more eco-friendly products than a year ago
  • 65% plan to purchase more of them in the next 12 months
  • 36% usually or often buy products made from recycled materials

They’re also willing to pay more for eco-friendly products, according to First Insight, which found 73% of GenZers say they’re willing to pay 10% more for a sustainable product. So let your customers know what you’re doing to align with their ethical, environmental, and social concerns.

4. Embrace omnichannel CX
Providing an omnichannel experience for shoppers isn’t an option anymore; it’s a necessity. Gen Z consumers, in particular, expect to be able to interact with your brand on their own terms: when they want, in their preferred channels, and as quickly as possible. They need to be able to reach you around the clock and across all channels, and they usually only want to speak to an associate as a last resort.

Considering retailers typically operate in multiple channels (brick-and-mortar stores, a contact center, website, app, and others) you need to ensure the customer journey is seamless, especially when shoppers jump from one channel to another. This can be especially true for younger shoppers, who often first seek out nonvoice channels like messaging, switching over to the phone only when needed for more-complex interactions.

5. Put individuality, inclusivity at the forefront
Gen Z doesn’t only demand a high level of personalization, they also place a high value on self-expression, individuality, and inclusivity.

They expect the brands they interact with to cater to their individual needs and preferences – with things like customized vitamins, perfect tone matches in cosmetics, and personalized hair care routines, for instance. They also want to buy from companies that represent and support racial and ethnic minorities as well as the LGBTQ+ community.

Tap into expert help
As Gen Z reshapes the future of retail, it may seem overwhelming to rethink your CX approach. An experienced partner can help you navigate through the strategy and tools you need to elevate your CX. And with tools like intelligent automation, messaging, and back-office support, the right partner can even help you save money along the way.

With the right blend of people and technology, and a customer-centric CX strategy guiding you, your brand can deliver the type of experiences that will attract Gen Z shoppers and keep them coming back.