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A.T. Kearney: Gen Z’s shopping habits favor brick-and-mortar

The nation’s digitally native generation prefer to shop in physical stores.

Despite being raised with technology, Gen Z (14 to 24 years old) still value the physical store experience for all phases of the shopper journey, in particular when compared to millennials and Gen X, according to a report from A.T. Kearney. Eighty-one percent of Gen Z respondents surveyed said they prefer to purchase in stores, and 73% said they like to discover new products in stores.

The report, How Gen Z’s Concern With Emotional Health Fuels Retail Growth And Failure part of A.T. Kearney’s ongoing research into the Future Consumer, finds that in-store shopping is an escape for younger shoppers. Fifty-eight percent of the respondents said that shopping in physical stores allows them to disconnect from social media and the digital world. At the same time, Gen Zers feel pressured to keep up with trends and use shopping to boost confidence and feel closer to online influencers by buying the products they endorse

“I think one of the things the survey shows us is that, despite being the first full generation of digital natives, Gen Z is looking at brick and mortar retailing as a way to, ‘disconnect,’ from the stress of social media while at the same time getting emotionally closer to the online influencers and celebrities they follow,” said Nora Kleinewillinghoefer, co-author of the report and a principal in A.T. Kearney’s retail and consumer goods practice.

As to what matters most to Gen Z when shopping in stores, exclusives and promotions, including free samples, giveaways and contests, came out on top (86%), followed by support tools such as maps, signs and kiosks (83%), safety precautions (79%) and a well-curated experience focused on a limited number of products (74%).

When shopping online, Gen Z values personalized recommendations (73%), endorsements on social media from non-celebrities (55%) and celebrity influencers (47%).

Among the survey’s other critical takeaways:
• Gen Z consumers are more likely to let negative experiences stop them from making purchases – both online and instore – than respondents in the other three generations.

• Forty-six percent of the Gen Z members polled said they were “very much” concerned about their personal health and mental wellbeing.

• When it comes to packaging 65% of Gen Z respondents preferred simple packaging and 58% wanted that packing to be eco-friendly, but despite a clear interest in eco-friendly packaged goods, less than 40% of respondents were willing to pay more for “green packaged” products.
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