An essay I wrote for my Zalora scholarship entry. It’s been a few months so I thought I’d post it up. I’m gonna update this space soon! Been neglecting it for way too long and I have so much to write about.
Millennials are a generation that have shaken up the retail world. They are the generation that were born at the tail end of the 90’s and came of age just as the Internet came into the picture. They’ve grown up with the Internet, yet their childhoods are rooted firmly still in the pre-Internet age. Such huge changes so early in their lives mean that millennials are quick to change, they’re fast learners, and they’re Internet-savvy.
Post-millennial generations, known as Gen Z, will have never known a time when the Internet did not exist. They grew up surrounded by screens, where the world in at the tip of their fingers. The retail world has to catch up with that the not just respond, but predict their needs and then fulfilled them before they even identify that need.
Gen Z are different from millennials, and we need to cater to them accordingly. They clock in on their smartphones more than millennials – 15.4 hours per week as compared to millennials’ 14.8 – and use Instagram more than any other generation. They are savvy to the market’s efforts and are early adopters of ad-blocking software. They prefer cool products to cool experiences, despite what all the research on millennials’ consumption styles may predict.
Moving forward, I predict that post-millennial consumption styles will focus on unique products and streamlined delivery. When Gen Z leaves the house, they want to know that the product they want is available, and they want to know exactly which store it’s available in. This means that technology needs to step up and provide them with that information, much like how Zara had its “Check In Store” feature on its website. Gen Z expects this technology in every part of their shopping routine, be it for fashion, beauty, or just groceries.
Shopping will be frictionless. Payment will no longer involve cash, or even a wallet. Frictionless payment options are already being rolled out in the market with systems like Visa PayWave, and this movement will continue to be more widespread, and eventually the norm, in the next generation. Order fulfilment is already much faster than it was last year, but for Gen Z, one-day delivery will be a norm, and drone deliveries will not be a wild idea. They expect to receive their products quickly and efficiently – the experience takes a backseat to the product.
With such efficient delivery systems in place, it’s little wonder that Gen Z will avoid shopping malls and department stores. They don’t need the experiential aspect of shopping, and thus, smaller brick and mortar stores will pop up and take the place that malls used to inhabit in consumers’ shopping lifestyles. Smaller stores offer a more intimate experience, which when combined with features such as customisation, result in exactly the kind of unique product that Gen Z are interested in. Smaller stores are also more flexible and they can be executed in smaller neighbourhoods that might not have the land space for the typical malls and stores, placing them closer to the consumers’ daily lives and creating more opportunities for consumers to drop by the store whilst they’re going about their daily lives.
Gen Z are different from millennials, and we need to identify those differences, embrace them, and anticipate their behaviour in order to survive in a competitive retail market.