Why Gen-Z Teens are important to Retailers



Retailers crave engaged, tech-savvy consumers with huge spending power and influence. Engaging with the older teens group (or Gen-Zeens), consisting of millions of 16-19 year olds may be the most important audience retailers are not yet reaching. Retailers, overlook this influential audience at your own risk...

Why are Gen-Z teenagers are so important to retailers?

Generation Z is an important demographic for the future of retail because they are soon to make up 40% of global consumers. Gen-Z teenagers are crucial to retailers because they have a significant influence on retail purchases and spending. They have their own unique buying power and preferences, which retailers need to understand in order to stay relevant.

This generation has higher expectations when it comes to the retail experience compared to previous generations and value social platforms, organic content, and personalisation.

Gen-Z are quickly overtaking Millennials & Boomers as the world's largest consumer group (worth approx $150 billion in the US alone), so retailers must adapt their approach to sustainability respectively.

Gen-Z is reshaping retail both in-store and online with new shopping habits that retailers need to embrace in order to keep up with changing trends. Understanding what Gen Z is looking for will help retailers attract and retain them as loyal customers.

The risk of overlooking Gen-Z consumers

Generation-Z consumers are less loyal to retailers and expect retailers to provide impeccable customer service along with sustainable, ethical business operations and brand values. As a consequence, retailers feel pressure to find new ways to grab their attention.

Gen-Z consumers are far more intolerant of poor customer service, ethics, and unsustainable operations than their predecessors.

They demand stability and trust, so brands that stances and action on issues important to Gen-Z can deliver something more elusive to Gen-Z that isn't as prioritised as it should be in modern retail — namely, stability and trust. Brands that don't listen do so at at their peril.

To successfully engage with Gen-Zeens, retailers need to devise an authentic, in-depth strategy that respects their target audience's individuality and interests, whilst nurturing their growth.

According to McKinsey, brands should be receptive to the following three implications for this coveted generation: Consumption as access rather than possession, consumption as an expression of individual identity, and consumption as a matter of prosperity and focuses on the self.

This generation are more idealistic, more confrontational, and less willing to accept diverse points of view.

The lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, college debt, inflation, racial and gender inequity along with recession fears have made Generation Z stressed, indebted and idealistic. These factors influence their buying decisions.

Retailers who overlook Generation Z face the consequence of losing their loyalty. As digital natives, Gen-Z's expectations of interactions across smart retail environments are high. Retailers must provide personalised experiences that cater to their needs and align with their values.

Companies should also be aware that Gen-Z consumers' buying decisions are not based solely on price and quality but also on who they are buying from, what the brand stands for, its values and actions taken on issues important to them.

Retailers must understand how Gen-Z views consumption because they consume differently from previous generations. They view consumption as access rather than possession; it's an expression of individual identity; it's a matter of prosperity focused on the self.

What strategies can retailers devise to reach older Gen-Z target audiences?

Gen-Z is rapidly becoming a critical audience for retail brands to understand. Retailers can reach them by using social media and digital advertising in interactive ways to create channel-specific content that is short, concise, and easy to digest. Retailers need to advocate authenticity and communicate in a personal, relatable way.

Gen-Z is incredibly technically savvy and they expect retailers to be as well. They prefer interactive touchpoints, and retailers have the opportunity to reach these digital natives across multiple devices.

60% [of Gen-Zers] are attracted to brands who speak about reducing their carbon footprint, while 45% are influenced by eco-friendly materials.

Depop x Bain & Company

Retailers can use platforms like Tik-Tok that encourage content creation, engagement, and interaction. They should also engage with their loyal Gen-Z customers or employees for transparency that creates a genuine relationship and a greater understanding of the values and ethics they hold dear.

Retailers should cultivate brand loyalty by meaningfully interacting with Generation Z through every means possible, including partnering with influencers to build their brand, especially those aged between 15 to 21 are more likely to follow influencers.

Despite being digital natives, Gen-Z’ers frequently shop in physical retail stores; so it's important that retailers use both brick-and-mortar stores and their social media online channels wisely.

Retailers can use several strategies to reach young adults aged 19-21.

  • Create original, relatable content that resonates with younger generations and aligns with their values - for example, sustainability.

  • Focus on providing engaging, interactive content across every touchpoint, from websites to social media pages.

  • Segment and sell to Gen-Z by understanding the complexities of these highly-coveted sub-segments across the retail and foodservice spaces.

  • Investing in influencer marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach younger audiences. Studies show that younger audiences are heavily influenced by influencers - for example, take Logan Paul & KSI's PRIME energy drink.

  • Be active on social media platforms such as Tik-Tok, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to connect effectively with younger audiences. Younger generations engage with trends on social media and prefer brands that keep updated with these trends and create advertising that is relevant to them.

  • Brands need to demonstrate to this eco-conscious audience that they care about more than just making a profit. Gen-Z want connection, communication, and care from brands regarding ethics, social, and environmental issues. Developing marketing strategies that communicate the values of your brand will help brands connect effectively with younger audiences.

Provide Gen-Z with authentic retail experiences

Gen-Z craves connection and community, and prefer to engage with customer services in-store. As Gen-Z accumulates more spending power, retailers will need to understand what motivates their shopping behaviour and what sets them apart from older generations.

Retailers should look to create digital experiences that are engaging, personalised, and user-friendly to encourage Gen Z shoppers to make online purchases.

To capture Gen Z's attention, retailers must prioritise social media platforms, create content that tells a story and fits into their lifestyle, and execute strategies to help them outpace competitive disruption. But ultimately, retailers need to learn from Gen-Z and prove that they care about more than just making a profit.

Read more on Generation-Z and the Future of Retail:

- Cause-related Marketing is the future of Gen-Z Engagement

- How Gen-Z shoppers are changing the world of Retail