Generation Z issues a new retail-PR ultimatum

by | Jun 8, 2017 | Public Relations

The younger crowd has upended retail PR as we know it, and they’re continuing to do so—more than 90 percent of Generation Z now say that a strong wi-fi signal is important to them and their overall shopping experience, according to a survey conducted by strategic firm HRC Retail Advisory.

Emerging in-store technologies and positive social media feedback are among the top priorities for both Gen Z and Millennial consumers. The survey, which also revealed a generational shift in how these consumers shop for beauty products, represents the first in a series centered around Generation Z and Millennials’ attitudes, behaviors, and shopping preferences.

“Millennial and Generation Z’s use of technology in-store, their need to stay connected to friends via social media while they shop, and how they’re shopping beauty trends is changing consumer spending patterns,” said Farla Efros, president of HRC, in a news release.

“While the latter generation was born with a smartphone in hand, it doesn’t keep them from shopping—and even preferring to shop—in brick and mortar stores, as long as they have access to their ever-important social network. Generation Z in not only powerful on their own, but they are the ones dragging their Millennial parents (who prefer to shop online), back into the mall as well,” she continued. “Understanding these consumer segments and how they apply to a retailer’s business will be essential, as both of these generations will be crucial to retail strategies going forward.”

Generation Z issues a new retail-PR ultimatum

To better understand the growing influence of Millennial and Generation Z consumers and the implications for retailers, HRC recently surveyed 1,350 participants in North America on their attitudes, behaviors and influences driving their shopping purchases.

Significant findings of the survey include:

Magic mirrors and retail apps enhance in-store experiences

  • Magic mirrors keep consumers connected. When asked if they would use a “Magic Mirror” in dressing rooms to send images through social media, 66 percent of Millennials aged 18 to 34 said they would be at least somewhat likely to use the technology, which is 50 percent more than those aged 35 to 41. In fact, Generation Z and Younger Millennials were found to embrace emerging technologies, particularly if they enhanced a connection with their social network or streamlined the shopping experience.
  • Retail apps are favored over traditional in-store payments. Sixty-eight percent of Millennials, and 64 percent of Generation Z state that they would likely use a retailer’s app to make an in-store payment. And, the number of consumers favoring apps over traditional payment methods climbs to 78 percent among Millennials aged 25 to 34.

Social networks drive purchase decisions

  • Facebook and YouTube dominate social media. Nearly 60 percent of respondent—both Millennials and Generation Z—use Facebook daily, with as high as 72 percent of Millennials age 25 to 34. YouTube ranks second amongst both demographics, with over 55 percent using the platform daily.
  • Social media is essential for feedback. More than half of respondents—both Millennials and Generation Z—said they use social media to solicit opinions while shopping, and more than 40 percent of respondents said they have made a decision based on feedback from their network, which consists primarily of their peers. Additionally, 25 percent of Millennials say they have returned items based on feedback from social media sites, and Generation Z’s return rate is as high as 62 percent.

Generation Z issues a new retail-PR ultimatum

Discounts and influencers are key to shopping beauty

  • Amazon and discount stores top traditional beauty stores. With new beauty trends constantly emerging, both Generation Z and Millennials look to Amazon and Discount Stores (i.e., Walmart and Target) to shop for products over traditional beauty stores (i.e., Sephora, Department Stores, etc.). In fact, when asked where Generation Z has purchased beauty products in the last 6 months, 55 percent said Discount Stores and 35 percent said Amazon. For Millennials, 49 percent said they shop Discount Stores and 45 percent on Amazon.
  • Friends and YouTubers influence Gen Z beauty buys. While Millennials are primarily influenced by the store experience when shopping for beauty (34 percent), Generation Z cites Friends and YouTube Beauty Gurus as their primary influence when shopping (54 percent). Store experience is significantly less important to Generation Z in Beauty purchasing (11 percent).

Read HRC’s Emerging Generation Z Powerhouse report here.

HRC Retail Advisory’s survey findings are based on a targeted sample of two distinct demographics: Millennials (ages 18-41) and Generation Z (children ages 10-17). The sample size was 675 per group. Respondents were asked about their attitudes and behaviors as it relates to shopping and shopping influencers. The survey was fielded from March 9 – 21, 2017, and was completed through proprietary sample sources amongst panelists who participate in online surveys. The total sample size was 1,350 completes.

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 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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