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Generation Z Consumers Want Unique, High-Quality Products

Generation Z is steadily entering the economy and retailers need to be prepared.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) recently partnered with IBM to learn more about this emerging consumer demographic.

The resulting study, Uniquely Generation Z, charts the traits and behaviors of consumers born after 1996 to help retailers best position themselves to earn Generation Z’s loyalty and purchasing power.

Speaking on NRF’s Retail Gets Realpodcast, NRF vice president of research development and industry analysis Mark Mathews says that as the world’s first true digital natives, Generation Z spends $44 billion annually and craves “a frictionless experience when it comes to retail.”

Retailers don’t have to abandon the lessons they learned from marketing to millennials, but Matthews says retailers do need to take Generation Z’s ultra-connected worldview into account.

Companies are increasingly attempting to lure Generation Z by connecting their products to social media influencers, bloggers and events that attract the demographic, Matthews says.

Matthews notes that Generation Z differs from millennials in a few key ways. While a millennial consumer might prefer to buy a mass-produced T-shirt with a few swipes of their phone for convenience, Generation Z consumers are more likely to visit brick-and-mortar stores in search of a one-of-a-kind purchase, he says.

“Generation Z does shop in store. They love the social aspect of shopping, but also the thrill of the hunt. They want something individual; they want something different,” Matthews says.

Uniquely Generation Z is the largest and most in-depth look into Generation Z’s purchasing habits, Matthews says. Key findings from the study include:

  • 77% of Generation Z say they influence their family’s food and beverage purchases
  • 76% say they use their mobile devices to chat and text
  • 66% say that it’s important to them that a brand sells high-quality products
  • 59% say they receive their spending money via an allowance
  • 45% say it’s important that a company offer eco-friendly products
  • 36% say they use mobile devices for homework
  • 24% work part time to earn their spending money


About Todd Taber

Todd Taber
Todd is trends editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. He graduated from Indiana University where he majored in journalism and French. Throughout his career, he has aimed to highlight small businesses and their community value. He joined NRHA in 2017.

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