Mood Media analyses spending habits of Generation Z and asks what’s in store?


Glued to their mobiles as they hunt for Pokemon, GenZ’s represent the majority of tomorrow’s consumers – the first true digital natives.

Born after 1997 the GenZ, iGen, or Centennials, as they are sometimes known, are truly entrenched in the digital revolution that Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) merely witnessed.

Generation Z, like many before it, is quite contradictory. Ultra connected to social networks, these “millennials on steroids” are in perpetual search of faster, better, stronger when it comes to their acts of purchase. Yet, for this generation, which represents 24% of the UK population, the actual purchase occurs primarily in the real world – on the shop floor.

For 80% of them it is essential that a brand has a sales point, which is almost the same as for millennials (82%) but dissimilar to previous generations (69% Gen X and 65% of boomers).

If this behaviour seems puzzling for consumers used to finding what they want on the Internet, it may also be because these younger shoppers do not consider physical stores in the same way.

This is where retailers’ opportunities – and problems – start, and where Generation Z changes the value chain and disrupts the codes of retail, once again.

The expectations of a retail generaZion

Fans of good products…

With £33bn of purchasing power – it leaves no brand indifferent! Retailers have a vested interest in adapting to this new generation to future-proof success in their stores. Despite being hyper connected, this generation attaches a lot of importance to owning products. While Generation Y looks for experience through service, GenZ focuses on the material and physical possession of a property. This possessiveness can be explained by their perception of the surrounding society: they feel threatened, constantly.

In the comfort of a physical store they feel reassured, where they can touch and feel, play and try on. Ultimately they consider visiting a retail outlet as a truly social activity.

 …discovered online

Brought up on the web, driven by social influencers – YouTubers are their favourite stars – they use their smartphone as a valuable purchasing tool. 39% of them say they find their shopping ideas on social networks via their smartphone and 34% found the products they bought via social media.

Despite their obsessive need to interact with a brand before making an actual purchase, three quarters do not install their preferred brand’s app and click and collect is not part of their routine of consumption (61% have never used it). With GenZ seeking immediate gratification and detesting waiting, long delivery times are a significant obstacle for time-poor consumers.

The immersive experience, a variable as important as the price

This “screen generation”, accustomed to credit crunches and concerned about their wallets, research on-trend brands at low prices (50% of GenZ girls mainly purchase during sales). Realistic, innovative, persistent and self-aware, they consider buying as leisure. Beyond the screen, the important thing for a brand that wants to connect with this generation is to develop an owned universe in store. Mobilising the senses of its customers is a must.

Customisation and communication: the key for capturing GenZ

Beyond the immersive experience and attention-grabbing bargains, GenZ shoppers like to be addressed with personalised offers; even in store through technologies like beacons, a type of a low-cost, micro-location-based technology that use Bluetooth low energy for communicating with beacon enabled devices, which are used by companies like House of Fraser, Waitrose, Starwood Hotels and American Airlines; or audio watermarking, a technology that generates copies of a recording which are perceived by listeners as identical to the original but which may differ from one another on the basis of the embedded information; or virtual reality, a three-dimensional, computer generated environment that can be explored and interacted with by a person, which is used by Tommy Hilfiger and Topshop and generated interest in companies like Facebook and Sony.

Through social networks and the distribution of branded content, this generation is receptive to advertising (35% said they read brand’s newsletters and 88% likes receiving a message from a store once they shopped there). However, Z-shoppers are not short of contradictions and will deem outdated any form of fidelity program, no matter how personalised.

Tomorrow belongs to them!

These criteria are essential to capture the GenZ’s (very small) attention spans – an average eight seconds. Meet their changing needs in a personalised way, give them the chance to live an immersive experience that integrates the offer, but also shows respect and loyalty before requesting it in return.

The future is now

In just a few years four out of 10 consumers will be GenZ. The question for high street retailers is not whether to prepare, but when and our take is to start soon.