Exploring the Generation Gap: How Gen Z's Inquisitiveness Shapes Retail Strategies

5 min read
Published July 14, 2023   |  Last Updated March 1, 2024


In today’s ever-changing retail world, the curiosity of Gen Z has a powerful impact on how businesses shape their strategies. As soon as these young shoppers step foot in a store, they crave immersive experiences that go beyond the ordinary. They desire personalized attention, the freedom to customize their purchases and seamless access to the products they crave.

Of course, everyone wants to get the attention of Gen Z. Colloquially known as “Zoomers,” they were born into a world with smartphones and have access to information like never before. They are smart, well-informed and can see through marketing tricks. So, to craft an extraordinary in-store adventure, it is crucial for retailers to truly grasp the expectations of this generation and thoughtfully integrate technology that isn’t gimmicky. By doing so, retailers can empower both shoppers and store associates, resulting in a shopping journey that is not only satisfying but captivating.


Catering to the interaction-seeking shopper

What sets Gen Z apart is their curiosity. They value learning and gathering knowledge more than collecting material possessions. When they go shopping, they are interested in trying, playing, learning and experiencing new things. This is important to consider when creating digital signage that can engage them effectively.

Imagine walking through a store and coming across a colorful interactive game that magically responds to your every move. As you walk by, the game lights up and challenges you to catch virtual objects by reaching out and grabbing them. The more you catch, the higher your score and you can claim a spot on the scoreboard. It's an exciting and immersive experience that combines technology and playfulness, bringing a sense of joy and engagement to your shopping journey. These personalized experiences are designed to target the customer as an individual. Since Gen Z values their uniqueness, they don't want to blend in with the crowd; they want to stand out and be acknowledged for who they truly are.


Craving authenticity

Known for their passion for authenticity, Gen Z follows brands and retailers that truly "get" them and share their core values. Authenticity becomes the golden key to capturing their attention and securing their unwavering loyalty. Zoomers actively seek out brands and retailers that champion justice, fairness, social equality, and sustainability — the values close to their hearts. By wholeheartedly embodying these principles and approaching them with genuine sincerity, you will witness a remarkable phenomenon: Gen Z flocking to your stores, irresistibly drawn by the authentic connection you forge with them.


So, what's the secret to capturing Gen Z's attention and meeting their unique needs? As retailers try out new ideas and technology, it's important to collaborate, learn about the data and digital tools available and understand how to make the most of their budget. By doing this, they can create a unified strategy, make smart decisions with data and figure out the best ways to spend their money for success.


Mix and mingle for a unified strategy

To succeed in the ever-changing world of retail, it's important for companies to work together across different departments. Instead of staying separate, teams like retail operations, store planning, marketing and e-commerce should mix and share knowledge. By understanding data and how it supports the retail media network, decision-makers can bring better ideas into stores. Right now, these decisions are made by different groups, but by collaborating, retailers can combine in-store operations and online shopping with creative ideas. Breaking down barriers and seeing the bigger picture will help them thrive in retail.

  • Vendor communities. Gaining knowledge from vendor communities is crucial. Even if you're not currently working with a specific partner, invite vendors to network with your teams to learn from their expertise. Connect with data companies, brand agencies and technology companies to understand trends and ensure their capabilities match their claims. Being well-informed is key. Use the available resources from the vendor community and trust them to provide valuable insights and solutions.
  • Internal corporate teams. Take advantage of learning from your colleagues within the company. Embrace every opportunity to gather different perspectives, especially when considering retail media networks. It's important for those who excel in online channels to listen to recommendations from retail trades and digital experts. Engage in conversations about possibilities and improvements.
  • Instore floor teams. It's important for brands to consider how to effectively introduce new technologies and concepts to their floor teams. Simply putting something on the floor isn't enough; proper education and training are necessary for success. Without the knowledge of how to use and support these tools, sales associates may struggle to fully utilize them. Technology can assist with automation and support, alleviating some burden, but training, education and establishing new routines are vital. We need to bridge the gap between implementation and utilization to ensure that new additions don't go unused or underutilized.


Get smart on data, get smart on digital

To succeed in retail, it's important to understand and utilize your data and find the right digital tools. This means having the right hardware (i.e., screens and devices) and software that connects everything. Retailers often rely on their IT departments for support in these areas. It's crucial for teams in retail operations, store planning, IT, marketing and omnichannel to work together to solve challenges and seize opportunities.

While retailers have access to the necessary software, the key is integrating it with human input to create a seamless experience across desktop, mobile and in-store visits. This integration brings together e-commerce (online) and m-commerce (mobile) to enhance what I call S-commerce (in-store). By getting smart about data and digital technologies, retailers can improve their business and offer customers a more engaging shopping experience.


Decode your ROIs for a better budget

Investing in technology is not easy. The budget plays a big role in deciding whether to make these investments. Bringing technology to your store can benefit retail media and other parts of the business. Once the technology is implemented, the next challenge is determining the return on investment (ROI). This involves analyzing metrics such as increased sales and larger “basket” sizes, which can be tracked at the register by connecting them to digital assets. By understanding these metrics, businesses can calculate the sales needed to break even within a specific timeframe. On average, it takes between six and 18 months to achieve this objective, highlighting the importance of strategic planning and patience.

Even before implementation, ROI metrics are still tricky since someone has to spend money upfront for this technology. It’s called a capital expense, and it’s different from other types of expenses. This investment must pay off quickly because it’s an asset that loses value over five years. Luckily, there are companies that can help offset the cost and figure out where the advertising money comes from, taking the pressure off retailers who don’t have to fund it all by themselves.

Capturing the attention of Gen Z requires a thoughtful approach. By understanding their curiosity, valuing their quest for authenticity and creating personalized experiences, retailers can connect with this influential demographic. By embracing these strategies and staying agile in the ever-evolving world of retail, businesses can thrive and forge meaningful connections with Gen Z, the generation shaping the future of commerce.

Listen to the complete Retail Remix podcast episode, How Tech Can Enhance In-Store Merchandising, Personalization and Service, by clicking here.