The next big generation in brick-and-mortar

May 19, 2017By Behind the Shelf Blog, Future of Retail

by Brittany Benson, manufacturer research specialist

There is so much talk about Millennials, and now the wave of Generation Z begins. If you are a small business and don’t compete on the same intense technology resource and capability level of the big players, do you really need to pay attention? Is there anything you can do to compete and stay relevant?

New research from Accenture reported some interesting news regarding the Gen Z shoppers. This news may not be very surprising if you spend any time around kids/young adults ages 7-21. It seems a well-known fact that this generation is tech savvy (although sometimes I wonder if they ever think about how reliant they are on others making decisions for them…).

The research pointed out that “…one of the ways to Gen Z’s heart is through enhanced digital tools, such as the ability to purchase directly via visual social platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.”The next generation in brick and mortar

You may be thinking, “Wait a minute! I’m a small store. How can I possibly compete with that?!” Well, one option would be to invest in your own website, social media, and e-commerce platform, possibly incorporating instant purchase options for customers on social platforms. However, if that feels like too large of a project for you at this time, do not lose hope! This upcoming generation still wants to shop in your physical store.

“...the study revealed that retailers should not neglect the physical store. Sixty percent of Gen Z shoppers still prefer to purchase in-store, and 46% will still check in store to get more information before making an online purchase. In the U.S., 77% of Gen Z respondents said that brick-and-mortar stores is their preferred shopping channel.”

Depending on the nature of your business, it may still be in your best interest to keep social media possibilities in the back of your mind. The first step may be to invest one hour to investigate your options. A quick Google search for “is social media for me” produces many results. Here is a quick read that can help you discover the type of social media that fits your brand personality. It doesn’t include every social media platform out there, but it’s a start to learning where your brand might be best suited and which sites you would enjoy the most. At any rate, it gets you thinking about it, even if only in the back of your mind.

The more you learn, the better you can assess how and when to incorporate social media into your business. It’s not going away, so you can either adapt, or be left in the dust. Don’t make it complicated, just try something with a low opportunity cost and evaluate it later. If you want to test it out a bit while you explore, consider creating a personal account while you learn, then move to a business account and bring any followers with you (if appropriate for your business).

”They [Gen Z] are impulsive buyers and willing to pay for speedy delivery.”

In your physical store, find ways to encourage impulse purchases to capture some of this audience when they do come in your store. Worldwide, “They [Gen Z] haven’t formed strong brand loyalty…only 19% shop at a single store for health and beauty items.” It’s even weaker in the U.S.

“Gen Z is the next big consumer market and purchasing powerhouse,” said Jill Standish, senior managing director of Accenture’s Retail Industry practice.

Now is the time to make plans or, at a minimum, begin thinking about what you can do now or in the near future to help capture this upcoming generation. They are highly influenced by others’ recommendations and what others in their social circle think. How can you become part of their influencer circle? How can you be a force for good in the choices the next generation makes?