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Did you just figure out how to appeal to Millenials? Finally, understand their “lazy” and “crazy” ways? Well, congratulations, but now it is time to move on to discovering the new age of consumers: Generation Z. Shoppers who are born after 1998, including myself, comprise this new generation of consumers called Gen Zers and research indicates that by 2020 they will become the largest generation of consumers.

To better prepare for these new consumers, many studies have found that everything we thought we knew about Gen Z’s shopping habits, may indeed be wrong. While physical store and shopping mall declines were the talk of the past couple of years, Gen Zers prefer shopping in-person rather than online. While Gen Zers purchase the majority of their items in-store, they research and discover their future purchases online. Many Gen Z consumers begin their buyer’s journey by seeing an advertisement that appeals to them. 74% of Gen Zers spend 5 or more hours online every day, so it is no surprise that during these 5 hours they see many targeted advertisements. After seeing an engaging advertisement on YouTube, Facebook, or one of the other social media platforms, they proceed to research that item. According to Precision Dialogue, 46% of Gen Z consumers in the U.S. complete research on their mobile device before purchasing an item in store. They do not limit their research to strictly prices and quality, but many also post online using social media platforms to ask their peers what their thoughts are on buying the new item.

One of the biggest things their Gen Z peers will use to decide whether or not to tell their friend to make a purchase is if the product/service has a story. This new generation does not strive to seek quality in their items, but instead they question how the items fit into the story of their life. In an interview with Inc., Michael Solomon said "If brands have an interesting backstory, tell that story and tell it often.” Gen Zers concern themselves with companies’ political beliefs, donations, environmental friendliness, and culture. They want to buy from companies that have unique and thoughtful stories that align with their values. Gen Zers would prefer to see an advertisement that connects them with a local store and uses local lingo than a message that comes across as a big and impersonal corporation. Quick tip for national brands: your advertisements should have the physical address and website address of the closest store to the customer. And each retail location should have their Google My Business information up-to-date and accurate (e.g., store hours, address). My company, Netsertive, localizes national brand messages and digital advertising to create this connection that Gen Zers crave. We are seeing more and more national brands figure out how to localize their messages to their respective retail locations.

With the world at their fingertips from a young age, Gen Zers are able to hear opinions from every side of the market and analyze them to decide whether or not to purchase. A study by RetailDive shows that social media influences 80% of Gen Zer’s purchases. It is more important than ever to combine a smart and effective digital marketing strategy with an omnichannel presence. While Gen Z is patient when it comes to researching and traveling to stores for their purchases, they are very impatient when it comes to digital platforms. A recent study by Forbes concludes that as many as 60% of Gen Z consumers will not utilize websites that are difficult to navigate or take too much time to load. Additionally, the majority of Gen Z will hang up the phone if it is not answered in less than 45 seconds. Their lifelong ability to access information quickly and efficiently causes them to become impatient when confronted with obstacles in their buyer’s journey.

Ultimately, the three things that Gen Zers want in their buyer’s journey are clear messaging and information online; quick and easy access to products and stores; and sense of authenticity and personal connection.

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