Despite expectations that the first “digitally native” generation would want to shop online, a new study by IBM and the National Retail Federation (NRF) found that almost all members of Generation Z prefer to shop in bricks-and-mortar stores.With the global Gen Z population set to reach 2.6 billion by 2020, retailers need to create more interactive engagement around their brands to serve the ‘always on,’ mobile-focused, high-spending demographic, according to the study.
“Generation Z expects technology to be intuitive, relevant and engaging — their last great experience is their new expectation,” said IBM General Manager of Global Consumer Industries Steve Laughlin. “This presents a significant challenge for retailers and brands to create a personalized, interactive experience with the latest digital advances or risk falling behind. This kind of innovation is not linear or a one-time project — it is a new way of thinking, operating and behaving.”
NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said, “Just as Millennials overtook Gen X, there’s another big buying group retailers need to plan for, and it’s even larger: Generation Z. They appreciate the hands-on experience of shopping in a store. With technology constantly evolving but some shopping habits remaining the same, retailers need to be agile enough to serve both needs. Retailers are constantly focused on experimenting with new innovations both online and in-store to remain relevant to evolving consumer demand.”
The “Uniquely Gen Z” study conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value is based on findings from more than 15,000 consumers aged 13-21 from 16 countries.
Born after the mid-1990s till early 2000s, Generation Z is the first digitally native group to grow up not knowing a world before cellular phones, smartphones and other digital devices. But the study found that 67 percent of Generation Z shop in a bricks-and-mortar store most of the time, with another 31 percent shopping in-store sometimes, indicating that 98 percent of Gen Z shop in store.