Since the start of the pandemic, Gen Z and Millennials have demonstrated a willingness to shop both in-store and online, opting to utilize each channel based on a different set of benefits. Both generations have cited convenience, safety and ease of price comparisons as their main reasons to shop online, but coupled these benefits with the inconveniences of long wait times for deliveries, unpredictability of fit, and the cost of deliveries and returns.
“This digitally savvy generation was most equipped to deal with the changes and transition to the so-called ‘new normal’,” says Mardi Najafi, Director of Retail Design at Figure3. “They were already used to communicating with one another through their smart phones via apps, be it chat, voice, or video.”
Despite being the most digitally savvy generation, and being able to adapt with the new purchasing options, Gen Z also sees the value and yearn for the nostalgia of their pre-COVID shopping habits. Up to 40 percent of global consumers will soon be allocated to their generation, therefore it’s important to consider the values they associate with shopping in-store: fitting rooms, socializing with friends, and browsing for items for which they hadn’t originally intended. Improving and picking up from these values will create a more promising post-pandemic scenario for the physical store.
According to the 2019 US Loneliness Index, polled by Ipsos for Cigna, 79 per cent of Gen Z describe themselves as lonely compared to 71 per cent of millennials and 50 per cent of boomers. Should retailers and brands want to attract the Gen Z shoppers, they should start dedicating spaces for human centered connections, creating spaces where like minded people can meet and engage with the brand, and interact with one another. In parts of the world that have now opened up after the lockdown, we are observing this sudden need for such spaces: The TX Youth Energy Centre in Shanghai, which receives 40,000 shoppers per day is a mix of retail, social gathering spaces and food offerings, providing an experience where Gen Z’s can spend an entire day.
Based on studies conducted by Vogue Business and IBM Institute for Business Value, Gen Z shoppers are looking for more physical ways to engage with people and brands post-pandemic. “The ideal Gen Z-focused store will require a well-designed decompression zone allowing shoppers to quickly and conveniently navigate the store,” says Najafi. “They will need to have access to a highly curated product assortment and personalized shopping experiences, and most importantly a frictionless journey with super-fast payment methods.”