How Gen Z’s Purchasing Behaviors Will Change the Customer Experience

Consumer behavior shifts with each generation, as the world adjusts to developing technology and consumers’ values change based on societal and economic trends as well as their own lived experience. We’ve seen this shift happen as Baby Boomers, then Gen Xers, then Millennials came of age and became the demographic shaping the way we shop. Now the next generation, Gen Z, is growing up and beginning to influence the retail world. 

Born in the mid-1990s through the mid-2010s (approx 5-25 years old), Gen Z is the first truly digital generation. They grew up with smartphones, and have never known a time without the internet or social media. The oldest of this generation are coming of age in a time colored by the great recession, school shootings, social justice movements, and threats of climate change, and are absorbing it all instantaneously through their smartphones. All of these variables have informed their beliefs and values, which in turn impact their purchasing behaviors.

Because of their digital upbringing, Gen Z’s purchasing behaviors will change the customer experience in ways that we are just beginning to see. Gen Z is likely to affect a huge shift in how consumers shop…and in some ways they already are.

Gen Z Is Motivated by Price, but Also by Their Values

Unlike the Millennial generation, Gen Z is less motivated by prestige when it comes to their purchases. They are highly motivated by price. This generation is thrifty above all: they don’t want to pay full price for anything. In fact, a recent Business Insider poll found that 60% of Gen Zers listed price as the biggest factor in their purchasing decisions. 

They are also generally less interested in luxury brands than their predecessors. Or, rather, they define luxury differently. To them, luxury isn’t a name brand—instead, luxury consists of unique items that set them apart from the crowd. Being unique and balancing that with frugality is a defining trait of this generation.

Gen Z is looking for a high level of value in everything they buy—either by purchasing inexpensive items, or by buying products that may cost more but offer greater value, such as long life or a warranty. 

But in addition to financial value, this generation is looking beyond the tangible product and asking what it is that makes up the foundation of the company they are buying from—its mission, its purpose, and so on. They want to support businesses that reflect them and their values; businesses they can trust and believe in. 

This is a highly informed generation who wants to know where and to whom their money is going. They value inclusivity and diversity, and they expect sustainability and social responsibility from the brands they support. They want to buy from brands that are sourced responsibly, environmentally friendly, and that support issues they care about.

Some of this conscious consumer mentality began with Millennials, but it is quickly accelerating with Gen Z. Their idea of what something is worth is much more complex than the generations before them. It’s no longer only about the price tag—it’s also about societal values, status, and social influence. This generation is not consumption crazy: they are more particular about what they buy, and they want to buy products that align with their beliefs.

Brands Will Have to Work Harder to Earn Gen Z’s Trust

Because of their focus on finding the best value in every purchase, brand loyalty is not as important to Gen Z as it was to their predecessors. Convincing this generation to be loyal to your company’s products or services will be more challenging than ever.

Gen Z doesn’t see brands as part of their identity like previous generations have. Plus, since they are able to verify anything online, they are naturally more skeptical of a brand’s claims. They value transparency and authenticity in the companies they buy from, and if they don’t get it, they’ll leave.

Just like other age groups, when Gen Z feels appreciated, they are more likely to endorse or recommend a brand online, subscribe to newsletters, sign up for promotions, or make repeat purchases. But even if you earn their business, there’s no guarantee they’ll be back. If you are slow to engage with them or if you don’t live up to your promises, they’ll move on.

Convenience Is a Baseline Expectation for Gen Z

Gen Z lives in the cloud—they exist in a world with unlimited choice. They are used to communicating through devices, apps, and platforms, and they’re used to doing the bulk of their shopping online. What has become the new normal for many of us over the past year is old hat to them.

Gen Z isn’t just shopping on store websites—they’re using social media to browse products and get to know the brands. Brands that want to be successful with Gen Z need to be active on social media in a creative, authentic way. Influencers, reviews, blogs, and the like are what drive Gen Z’s purchasing behaviors. If you don’t have a significant online presence, you’ll miss out on their business.

This is not to say that Gen Z doesn’t also enjoy shopping at brick-and-mortar stores—they do. But when they do, they have high expectations. A frictionless experience is a must, and they’re also looking for that “x factor”—something that puts the experience over the top. When they shop in-store, they’re doing it for the experience. 

For Gen Z, this experience includes omnichannel commerce that provides a seamless transition from mobile to laptop or tablet to brick-and-mortar store. Incorporating omnichannel commerce options is vital to engaging Gen Z.

Having seamless delivery and curbside pickup services is a must as well, and something this generation expects. Gen Z expects to be able to buy online, then either pick up curbside or have items shipped with just the tap of a finger or click of a button. They also expect to be able to easily track their delivery or provide their ETA for pickup. The time when customers were content to wait in line for a pickup is gone. Nor are they happy to wait for their delivery with no ability to find out where it is and when it will arrive. They expect more.

A location-intelligent customer communication platform is now a vital part of providing the ideal customer experience—for Gen Z, and, truly, for any customer.

Stay on the Cutting Edge of Customer Experience with Glympse

Glympse allows you to do just that: offer your customers the seamless delivery or curbside pickup experience they are coming to expect with every purchase. Gen Z is quickly becoming a large part of the consumer base—both through their own purchases as well as by influencing the way their parents shop. Over the next several years, Gen Z’s purchasing behaviors will change the customer experience significantly. If you haven’t yet implemented a location-intelligent customer communication solution, now is the time.

Contact us today to learn more about how Glympse can help you stay on the cutting edge of the customer experience with location-intelligent customer communication for delivery and curbside pickup.

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