6 Steps for Targeting Gen Z Shoppers in Your Brick and Mortar Store

Generation Z is the latest batch of consumers and like the rest, you'll want to get them into your store. But how do you go about targeting Gen z shoppers?

If you dread it when a group of teenagers comes into your retail store, you’d better change your attitude. Generation Z — the generation after the Millennials — is growing up, and catering to these consumers will be vital for any retailer hoping to survive.

Why does Gen Z matter so much? For one thing, there are lots of them. While there’s no universally agreed-upon date for the start of Generation Z (various sources put it anywhere from 1995 to 2001), data from the Census Bureau and Goldman Sachs estimates Generation Z at over 75 million. By 2020, they’re projected to be the largest consumer group worldwide.

But for retailers, there’s a more important reason to focus on Gen Z: They’re more likely than other age groups to shop in a physical store. According to GfK’s 2016 FutureBuy study, Generation Z leads all other shopper age groups in the U.S. in in-store shopping behavior.

The study found significant differences in shopping preferences among age groups, showing that “generation is a major factor in determining how someone prefers to shop,” according to Joe Beier, EVP of GfK’s Shopper and Retail Strategy team. “The days of ‘one size fits all’ are clearly over.”

6 Ways to Get Gen Z to Buy From Your Store

Now that you know the value of Generation Z as shoppers, how can you get them into your store? Here are six steps to take when targeting Gen Z shoppers:

Be Highly Visible Online and On Social Media

Gen Z’s purchasing process starts with what Fitch calls “aspirational browsing” — looking for products they want to buy online and on social media, collecting images and getting feedback from friends. But it’s not your mother’s social media: Gen Z tends to prefer peer-to-peer focused social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram rather than, say, Facebook. Use social media and online advertising to get their attention.

Keep Their Personal Info Secure

Concerns about the security of personal information rank high with Gen Z, and are a primary factor in their preferences for shopping in-store. Make sure you implement data security policies to protect their financial and personal information, or risk incurring their wrath (and losing their business).

Share Diverse Images

Generation Z is more racially and ethnically diverse than any other generation, and they take diversity for granted. Make sure your advertising, window displays, website and social media accounts include images of diverse customers, and treat all customers with respect, no matter their age.

Let the Music Play

Incorporate music into your store experience if you want to attract Generation Z. Fitch found that for this age group, music shows a store is “open for business,” while a silent store won’t draw their attention.

Design Layouts with Them in Mind

Generation Z tends not to look up when shopping, according to Fitch. Instead, they focus on eye-level displays, and on products rather than signage. Keep this in mind and use signage to attract other demographics while creating a visually pleasing eye-level display for Gen Z. One thing they do look at is price tags. They want to make sure they can afford an item before inspecting it, so make sure your prices are easy to see at a glance.

Think Tactile

Generation Z wants to touch and handle products before they buy. Create displays that appeal to the senses and let them touch instead of putting products behind glass or high out of reach.

Shopping is a long process for Gen Z, including lots of online and offline research, getting opinions from peers in real life and online, and looking for the best value and price. If you can stay with them during the process, you can win their business.

Gen Z Lifestyle Photo via Shutterstock

Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.