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Shopper Trends|October 19, 2021

Gen Z Cares But Expects Retailers to Care More

Members of Gen Z care about social issues, but they also demand that retailers and brands make sustainable, conscious consumerism easy to achieve. We pulled Gen Z responses from two How America Shops® 2021 reports and compiled the results, to reveal a telling pattern.

Do You Really Know What Gen Z Cares About?

WSL’s recent How America Shops® study, “The New Shopper Truths” shows that members of Gen Z want to do good for the environment and support fairness in the community, but they aren’t as willing as their older cohorts, the Millennials, to sacrifice convenience for it. 

We then examined Gen Z’s responses to what they value with the results of our earlier 2021 “Gen Z: The Next Shopper Revolution” research, which tracked how they shop. 

This is what we found.

1: Convenience Has Sharply Shaped Gen Z’s Shopping Habits

Gen Z is well adapted to fast-shopping tech tools that won’t hold them up from other activities. According to our Hot Topic report, “Gen Z: The Next Shopper Revolution”: 

  • 32% use voice-activated devices, compared with 17% of all shoppers; 25% buy online subscriptions (vs. 13% of the total) and 18% use augmented reality (vs. 11% of the total). 
  • One-third use contactless payments and digital wallets – 10 to 15 percentage points more than the total population. 
  • With their mobile in their hands, Gen Z are less likely than the overall population to use traditional tools like online circulars – 20% vs. 24%. 

2: Gen Z Cares, But Will Not Do the Work for Companies 

In WSL’s August study, “The New Shopper Truths,” Gen Zers said they expect retailers and brands to make conscious consumerism easy for them, just as their shopping has become easier and faster. 

  • Gen Z will commit to creating a healthier world – as long as it’s convenient. – by 12 percentage points more than the total population. Millennials, in contrast, will go out of their way to make a difference, even if it is not convenient – 13 percentage points more than the total population.   
  • The Gen Z demand for convenience means they are far less likely to buy things on a regular basis to “make a difference” in the world (19 percentage points fewer than the total). They blame price, inconvenient and availability as key barriers to purchase. 
  • Perhaps as a result (and to our surprise), a smaller percentage of Gen Zer than the overall group are concerned about issues facing humanity including climate change, ethical manufacturing and fair working conditions.
  • What Gen Z does demand is that companies tell their brand “stories” and be transparent about how products are made and under what working conditions. 

These 2 Behavioral Traits Reveal a Gen Z Pattern

And it’s a pretty straightforward pattern to follow: Members of Gen Z expect manufacturers and retailers to make it easier for them to live their best, consumer-conscious lives. Unlike Millennials, they will not seek ways to circumvent barriers such as affordability and lack of availability. To them, that is the company’s job. 

At WSL, We Know That Shoppers Get What They Want 

Gen Z will find the retail places that sell the brands that make it easy for them to live their values. It may be on their livestream programs or brands they buy direct from the manufacturers. It may start with beauty, sneakers or food for their pets, but their behavior will send you their message. 

Don’t’ wait to be perfect. Be honest, be transparent and tell your story where Gen Z will watch or hear it. “The New Shopper Truths” report will help you to fully understand Gen Z’s priorities.

To see more of our latest consumer sentiments on values and ease, and the tactics industry leaders are practicing to get there, visit our Shopper Insights page. 

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