Physical retail will long be gone by 2050. That’s in our lifetime!
Legacy institutions such as high retail rents and the operational cost of running stores will certainly play their part in this demise, but the instrumental blow will be the future generations’ interest in real shops and shopping. It is very possible that the next two generations, Alpha and Beta, will be the last of their kind before an explosion in artificial intelligence and virtual experience that rapidly reduce interest in physical stores and products. But just as profoundly, Boomers, Gen X, Y and Z might well be the last consumer generations to place any value on real shops and stores.
Generations that shop is a series of six short articles that aim to explore and consider what opportunities remain for brands and retailers to maximise the shopping landscape now and for the relatively short-term future.
The ‘8 seconds’ generation.
Children of the 2008 financial crisis parents, Gen Z are the emerging new workforce, wealth generators and curators of consumption. In 2020 Zers will make up almost 30% of the world’s population and are the first post-internet and digitally integrated generation.
We must not overlook Zers as just a millennials bolt on, or millennials 2.0. There’s no doubt, the world Zers will consume in has been remastered and shaped by the previous millennial generation, but Zers bring their own agenda and come prepared to tear up the rule book.
Zers are only just entering the workforce, so it’s perhaps too early to determine the impact their having on the shopping economy. While they are only just earning an income of their own, our evidence demonstrates that they have been influencing purchases for a number of years. Over 35% of parents and grandparents tell us that their Gen Z offspring influence what and how they purchase products and services. Over 75% also said that they are more likely to listen to their opinions for future purchases too. Shaping what, and how we shop is a product of Zers necessity to curate the culture that surrounds them.
Talking to Zers, it is really clear that they see things in a different light. 85% consider themselves creative, valuing their capability to document their lives through video, pictures and the written word. 45% create new video content each week and over 70% post unique content to their social channels every day. But this creativity comes at a price.
Not financially, but in engagement and advocacy. When it comes to transactions, engagement and advocacy make Zers the new billionaires.
Zers are obsessed by price. This trait passed from their parents and teachers who suffered the recession in 2008 makes them the least brand loyal generation yet. Over 70% tell us that price is their first consideration, closely followed by authenticity and provenance. What is strikingly evident in Zers shopping considerations is the ability to shape or mould the brand along the way. Zers are the first generation to fully document their lives through social media. Not because they want to, but because that’s how they live. So, the pressure is on to offer uniqueness through the content shared. Born from this is the desire to continuously change everything, so Zers are least likely to want to own anything for long. They have already changed the course of fashion forever, demanding rentable fashion runways, reusable services and the ‘third hand’ market.
Authenticity mixed with on demand is king for Zers. They are the largest users of online Ad-blockers, their least favourite device is television and they are 3 x more likely than millennials to switch off brand marketing using celebrity influencers. They want real people like them with real stories like theirs. Of course, celebrities play an important part of Zers lives, but almost 90% of that is through direct social channels.
When it comes to purchasing, Zers have adopted instore as well as online and perhaps the most crucial consideration for both these environments is their time. Zers are by far the most impatient generation. 70% told us that physical stores are not convenient and don’t hold their attention, whereas online purchases are 4 x more frequent and driven by convenience. When we study Zers behaviour and habits when shopping, their average attention is around 7 to 8 seconds before they click on or walk away. Retailing has to be on Zers terms, they seek a two-way dialogue and expect experiences to suit their needs. They crave unique insta and snapchat content, seek services that keep them charged and on-the -move and are 3 x more likely to speak to store teams for assistance than millennials.
So, the existing marketing rule books needs an overhaul. To reach Zers and gain the small amount of loyalty on offer, we need to make the dialogue two-way and collaborative.
Now, brand stories are owned by the influencer and consumer, not the originator. Brands need agility and diversity to surf the limited attention available. Zers consider themselves unique, creative and true to themselves. They have already disarmed fake and overly embellished brand stories and are more influential online collectively than any single brand could ever be.
Perhaps, in the context of shopping, we will remember them as the ‘rent’ generation. They are the first to fully digitize their lives, they drive the circular economy agenda and are the first generation to believe that culture is theirs to curate.
By Martin Fawcett, Managing Director, The Shopper Agency