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Generation Next: how can retailers support Gen Z’s retail expectations?

  • 5th November 2018

Written by Guest Author


Guest blog by Marketing Assistant, Hannah Waterfield

Generation Z (born post 1995) are now the largest demographic in the world, accounting for 33% of the global population, with 2.5bn of them worldwide (Gartner, 2018) topping their Baby Boomer, Generation X and Millennial counterparts. The oldest of them are entering the workforce and the youngest of them are in primary school. They are the first demographic to have grown up with technology at their fingertips; they are ‘tech-innate’ and, by 2020, will make up for around 40% of the global consumer market (Adweek, 2017). But how do Generation Z differ from their predecessors and what steps can retailers make to keep them engaged?

What does Generation Z want from retailers?

Whilst technology is simply second nature to Generation Z, numerous retail reports have gathered that the vast majority of Generation Z value experience as opposed to assets. A 2017 Accenture Global Consumer shopping survey revealed that 60% of Generation Z shoppers prefer to purchase products in-store as opposed to online and around 46% of them check a product in-store before making an online purchase. Moreover, 67% of Gen Z say they liked to always shop in-store, while 31% said they liked to do so sometimes (IBM, 2017). This emphasis on physical experience suggests that Generation Z favour a shopping experience that amalgamates both the physical and digital side of retail, with an experience curated entirely towards their own favours and habits. The question is: how do retailers do this?

How can retailers successfully interact with Generation Z?

Although Generation Z might have been born with technology at their fingertips, it doesn’t mean that they’ve abandoned the high street. In fact, the interest in physical stores and online shops remains to be pretty even, with 40% of respondents saying that they prefer shopping in store, whereas 45% preferred to shop online (Drapers, 2018). Whilst online shopping is nothing new, the demand for a joined-up approach to online sites and bricks-and-mortar stores is growing. Habits such as ‘showrooming’ and ‘webrooming’ are also prevalent in Gen Z (Drapers, 2018), merging both the virtual and physical store experiences together to purchase their perfect product at the right price. In response to this, retailers are expanding their omnichannel offering, joining together bricks-and-mortar stores, online websites, outlets and social media sites. Offering convenience and supporting how – and, perhaps most importantly, when – consumers (especially immediate-living Gen Z) want to shop will become increasingly important.

Retailers are also beginning to think outside of the box when it comes to the customer experience, instead considering a more holistic approach. A rise of in-store features such as coffee shops and beauty bars appearing in bricks-and-mortar stores are becoming more prominent, with retailers considering their customer’s experiential needs. For example, Retail Assist’s customer, Harvey Nichols, offer a champagne and nail bar in their Liverpool-based concept store, ‘Beauty Bazaar’, for customers who want to relax and enjoy the time they spend shopping in store. These added immersive features play to Generation Z’s demand for experience to be as important as buying products.

Ted Baker Pop Up - Gen Z - Retail Assist

Ted Baker ‘Colour by Numbers’ pop-up

Another way that retailers are reaching out to different customer bases and create a ‘buzz’ around the brand are via pop-up shops. Centred upon the idea that retail is as much about the physical experience as it is about acquiring products, pop-up shops utilise innovative and immersive retail methods as well as integrating physical interactive activities to sell products. In March 2018, Retail Assist’s client, Ted Baker, launched a pop-up store for their ‘Colour by Numbers’ collection, based in Shoreditch, London. The store featured a variety of interactive activities, including ChromaYoga sessions (a style of yoga that integrates light and colour therapy into the practice) and a nail bar, as well as interactive events with fashion bloggers and stylists, giving the customer the chance to converse with the game-changers in modern fashion and offering a one-of-a-kind retail experience.

However, whilst Generation Z are set to be the biggest generational group, surpassing millennials and baby boomers, Drapers’ survey also highlighted how crucial older shoppers are for today’s retail market, with their higher incomes and spending power. Yet, if retailers are to succeed in the future, they must adjust and continue to evolve to meet the needs and habits of this new generation.

For more information on how to keep up with the next generation of consumers and the services we offer here at Retail Assist, visit our website at, call our Head Office on +44(0)115 904 2777 or email

  • 5th November 2018

Written by Guest Author

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