How does Gen Z shop?
While 61% of Gen Z consumers consider in-store their preferred method of shopping, and more than one in four (28%) say they shop in retail stores more now than they did before the pandemic, many retailers have not addressed the generation's desire for memorable in-store experiences.
Just a quarter of retailers (27%) are offering unique in-store experiences, only a slight increase from 2019 (23%).
These findings present an opportunity for retailers to invest more in creating stronger retail store experiences for increased brand engagement and foot traffic. Examples among retailers prioritizing in-store experiences include creating a soothing sensory experience for Gen Zs while they shop, and merchandising that focuses more on storytelling.
[Read more: "2023 C-Store IQ National Shopper Study"]
The digital frontier
Since 2019, the use of mobile and contactless payments has accelerated greatly among Gen Z consumers and retailers. In fact, 61% of retailers currently offer mobile or digital wallet payments, nearly doubling the figure reported in the 2019 survey. The pandemic has no doubt played a role in this acceleration, with almost half of Gen Zs adopting digital payment solutions more now compared to before the pandemic.
Payment options have a powerful impact on brand loyalty, with 30% of Gen Z respondents saying they would not shop with a retailer again if their preferred form of payment was not available.
Despite being one of the most loyal consumer demographics out there, Gen Z appreciate being rewarded for loyalty. In fact, 45% of Gen Z respondents said they would buy a brand again if they earned valued rewards on purchases, indicating a good loyalty program is a great place to start for retailers.
[Read more: "Loyalty members drive online ordering at c-stores: Report"]
"When you win with Generation Z, you could be winning a customer for life if you understand their expectations and preferences," said Santaguida. "The challenge for retailers is that Gen Z is a generation of diverse tastes. At times, they value frugality and sustainability, shopping at thrift stores and looking for a deal, but they're also willing to pay more for high-quality products."
The key is creating a loyalty program that is easy to participate in and offers achievable rewards to keep Gen Z actively engaged.
"Loyalty programs offering a personalized, seamless experience that keeps customers actively invested in and engaged with the brand have proven successful," said Santaguida. "Those provide opportunities to interact through advertising, social media, the brand website, and brick-and-mortar stores with app integration."
By offering a variety of payment options, prioritizing the in-store shopping experience, and rewarding Gen Zs for their loyalty, retailers can capitalize on the growing power and influence of this generation to ensure success for years to come.