Discounts? Nah. Sales? Meh. It’s actually social media that exerts a major influence on Gen Z shoppers when it comes to purchasing decisions, according to one of several initial findings from an ongoing study by IRI.
The study looks into the shopping attitudes and behaviors of Generation Z (aged 21 and under), providing manufacturers and retailers valuable insight into how to effectively communicate and activate with this new generation of consumers. The research brings good news for brick-and-mortar retail, noting that physical stores are holding its own against the online juggernaut.
“It is clear that Gen Z will be different from Millennials and the generations before them on many levels — on top of being the most culturally diverse shopper population to date, Gen Zers are already forming unique purchase motivators and preferences,” says Robert I. Tomei, president of Consumer and Shopper Marketing and Core Content Services for IRI. “It will be critical for manufacturers and retailers to have a deeper understanding of these young shoppers as they gain influence and purchasing power, and leverage the power of personalization to reach them.”
Emerging research from IRI’s ongoing study helps describe the distinct characteristics that differentiate Gen Z from previous generations. Initial survey findings include:
- Brick and mortar holds its own against online. Gen Z sees both brick and mortar and online retailers being equally able to deliver the brands they want — a large product selection, low pricing and enjoyable shopping experiences.
- Social media plays a far bigger role in influencing Gen Z purchase decisions than pricing or discounts. Gen Z is two to three times more likely to be influenced by social media than sale or discount pricing when making purchasing decisions, making them the only generation to be more driven by social media than price.
- Ease of the shopping process has substantial influence. Gen Z is more likely than any other generation to choose a retailer based on how easy it is to find what they want, including Millennials.
It’s not just a price game for Gen Z. The ability to find what they’re looking for in the store is as important in driving retailer choices as low prices, IRI reports.
IRI’s survey also found that as the first native digital generation, Gen Z expects to find savings at the touch of a button. While Gen Z is still not yet doing the majority of their own shopping, more than 25% of Gen Z members already engage with retailer apps for discounts and promotions, compared with 33% of Millennials. These findings confirm the digital, social-centric shopper experience Gen Z will seek out, whether shopping online or in-store, according to IRI.
“One of the most interesting and compelling parts of Gen Z’s social media usage is related to how much they expect to be a part of the brand/retailer conversation,” says Lynne Gillis, principal of Survey and Segmentation for IRI. “Our work with Gen Z to date suggests that they reject inauthenticity and being ‘marketed to,’ but they are not against marketing and advertising altogether.”
What makes Gen Z different is they see and embrace the opportunity to be influencers, whether it’s among their own circle of friends or a broader audience. This has tremendous implications for how brands and retailers engage them in the marketing and advertising process, Gillis explains.
The findings of IRI’s proprietary Gen Z study will be followed with more detailed data and analysis in the next few months and will compare and contrast this consumer segment to other generations, states IRI.