Gen Z might be driven by digital, but they still prefer the in-store experience

Lilly Pulitzer tapped Gen Z with an in-store Snapchat campaign

Lilly Pulitzer tapped Gen Z with an in-store Snapchat campaign

Over 60% of Generation Z (16- to 21-year-olds) in the US prefer to shop at physical stores, according to a new report by Euclid Analytics.

Its study revealed that digital touchpoints – such as social media, the brand’s website or even targeted emails – drive Gen Z to research and find the products they want, but then tend to push them to an in-store purchase.

With that in mind, it suggests that in order to truly engage with this mobile-first generation – one that is set to reach 2.6 billion in population by 2020 and hold an estimated $44 billion in buying power, according to the National Retail Federation – retailers must strike the right balance between personalised digital methods and compelling in-store experiences.

66% of Gen Z shoppers still like to shop in-store because they want to touch, hold and try on products before buying, it explains, while 28% want to engage with sales associates, the most of any generation.

They are often mission-based, with only 47% of surveyed liking to browse. That’s seemingly because 31% of these shoppers believe it’s hard to find items they are looking for in-store. To engage with this notoriously brand-disloyal generation, wayfinding strategies should therefore be of top priority for retailers, Euclid Analytics suggests.

As consumer expectations continue to rise, Gen Z are particularly picky when it comes to controlling their experience too, with 26% expecting retailers to offer a more personalised experience based on their shopping habits and preferences. This is the most out of all demographics – seemingly the younger they are, the more demanding, with 22% of Millennials expecting the same, followed by 17% of Gen X and 11% of Boomers.

Among all generations, discount offers remain the top reason people use their smartphones in stores (44%), while 36% state they use their phones to check information on loyalty programmes.

Picking the right social media platform to engage with this young shopper means understanding their nuanced behaviours throughout the path to purchase. 45% of Gen Z shoppers use Instagram to find new products, followed by Facebook at 40%. Once in-store, they switch to Snapchat (44%) to share the experience, followed by only 16% of Millennials who do the same. The platform switch is most likely to do with the fleeting, in-the-moment nature of Snapchat content, while geotagged brand filters also play a big role.

Gen Z shoppers expect stores to enable their social sharing behaviour, with 53% agreeing that the top amenity they expect in-store is free WiFi, while retail apps that offer click and collect services lag behind at 30%.

The Euclid Analytics “Evolution of Retail: 2017 Gen Z Shopper Report” surveyed 1,500 US smartphone users in different age groups, demographics, household incomes and shopping preferences to uncover these latest insights.