I was born in 1996 and I am part of Generation Z.
We are described as “digital natives”, not knowing life without access to the internet or without a smartphone in hand. We are also known as one of the most frugal generations due to our having grown up during the recession. This along with other expectations and values makes us the most challenging, but (if satisfied), rewarding generations for retailers to secure as brand advocates.
Brand loyalty amongst my generation is quite scarce. A study of Gen Z shoppers showed that if the basics like product quality, availability and value for money are not being delivered to a certain standard then we won’t hesitate to change our brand allegiances*. Between my friends and I, we have probably shopped at every high street and online store there is, however there are some retailers and brands I am more loyal to and below are the reasons why…
Personalisation & Rewards
As a generation we like to feel special. We enjoy emails with our names in and recommendations based on previous purchases but most importantly, we want to be recognised as individuals.
If I am going to share my information with a retailer then I like to think that they’ll use it appropriately, tracking the things I like and the things I buy (without escalating to stalking). Having subscribed to many mailing lists, I often get emails about upcoming and new season trends and unique discount codes. I find these really useful and I feel like I am getting something in return for agreeing to give out my details.
One thing I LOVE receiving from brands is birthday discounts. Having a birthday is easily the best excuse to buy something new and I want to be sure that no matter which store or website I find my dream party dress on, I will be made to feel special because it’s my birthday. This is one of the most simple and easy ways for retailers to make us feel important as individuals, giving us the level of personalisation required to make us want to shop there again.
An example of a brand taking personalisation one step further is UIta, the American beauty brand.** They found themselves with thousands of samples and no idea what to do with them, so they went through their data on customer interests and past buying behaviours and identified who might be interested in which samples. I wish more brands did this as the “try before you buy” idea is very appealing.
Engaging with us
I really like brands that are digitally up-to-date. Being a “tech savvy” Gen Z, I spend a lot of my spare time on my phone going through social media and I’m not the only one. “44% of Gen Z use platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest as a source of inspiration”*** so brands that post tutorials or full looks on social media or run competitions are far more likely to win our attention and custom.
One thing I’ve noticed more and more on my social media feeds is friends and influencers acting as advocates for the retailers they have recently bought from. The people I follow are increasingly creating looks and talking about their favourite new products, tagging the relevant brands in the images and updates they share. What really drives this engagement for Gen Z is the fact that brands are now engaging with these people and rewarding them - perhaps by sending them new season trends before they are released online, or giving them the chance to enter exclusive competitions for holidays and prize bundles. I really like this as I can see what the clothes look like in “real-life” and how versatile different products are from people I can relate to on a more personal level. I know they are being honest about what they are saying and in turn, this level of engagement encourages me to become a brand advocate myself and spend money with them over other retailers.
Keeping it simple
As much as I live by the modern ideal, I must say that one of my favourite schemes remains Boots’ advantage card; it’s just so simple! Earning points every time I buy something. Brilliant. Being able to see how many points I have earnt overall and actually understand what that means in terms of real money. Great. Being sent vouchers to get double points AND money off. Fantastic. Then as a reward for my loyalty I can treat myself and get something free at the end of it, something I actually want.
So to summarise, we as Generation Z, expect more from retailers than previous generations. Personalisation of messages and recommendations is a great way forward and keeping up to date with the latest social media platforms will greatly improve interactions; you may even pick up some brand advocates along the way if you engage with us enough. BUT don’t over-complicate things, oh and don’t forget my birthday either.