Generation Z is a health-aware group, so it’s no surprise that they are more concerned with their mental and physical health than Millennials or Gen X. But the fact is, this young generation is self-reporting higher stress responses to both the news and social media—and according to new research from management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, this heightened anxiety is influencing how they shop, which is benefiting traditional brick & mortar retailers.

Those are some of the conclusions in A.T. Kearney’s new report, How Gen Z’s Concern With Emotional Health Fuels Retail Growth And Failure, part of ongoing research in its Future Consumer initiative.

“I think one of the things the survey shows us is that, despite being the first full generation of digital natives, Gen Z is looking at brick and mortar retailing as a way to, ‘disconnect,’ from the stress of social media while at the same time getting emotionally closer to the online influencers and celebrities they follow,” said Nora Kleinewillinghoefer, co-author of the report and a principal in A.T. Kearney’s Retail and Consumer Goods practice, in a news release.

Gen Z's self-reported stress could signal an opportunity for brick & mortar resurgence

Among the survey’s critical takeaways:

  • Forty-six percent of the Gen Z members polled said they were “Very Much” concerned about their personal health and mental wellbeing.
  • When it comes to packaging, 65 percent of Gen Z respondents preferred simple packaging and 58 percent wanted that packing to be eco-friendly—but despite a clear interest in eco-friendly packaged goods, less than 40 percent of respondents were willing to pay more for “green packaged” products.
  • Gen Z consumers are more likely to let negative experiences stop them from making purchases—both online and instore—than respondents in the other three generations.

The report surfaced both generational cohort similarities and key differences between Canadian and American respondents, suggesting that retailers and brands doing business on either side of the border need to acknowledge and effectively respond to intra-generational nuances, rather than just uncritically accepting generalized popular Gen Z mythologies.

Gen Z's self-reported stress could signal an opportunity for brick & mortar resurgence

“This survey strengthens our previous findings and helps create a roadmap for consumer companies to react to Gen Z consumers,” said Greg Portell, an A.T. Kearney Partner and head of the Consumer practice, in the release. “The findings underscore two important points: one, Gen Z is continuing to evolve, forcing marketers to view this as a snapshot in time requiring quick response; and, two, the difference between U.S. and Canadian respondents (and the spread of responses in general) reminds us that we can’t afford to generalize too far about this cohort of consumers known for their individuality.”

Read the full report here.

Gen Z's self-reported stress could signal an opportunity for brick & mortar resurgence

This survey polled 1,500 U.S. and Canadian consumers, across four generations, to explore how Gen Z’s desire for health and wellness is shaping the retail landscape.

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Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders.

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