The people of Generation Z live in a completely different world compared to Millennials and the preceding generations. They are the generation that values the experience over the product and see the world as a blend of physical and digital. They represent the gamification of daily life and their view of reality slowly changing the business world.
The Gen Z reality is elevating the expectations in the brand and retail experience; an experience they very much still desire, albeit on their own terms. Digitisation and hyper-reality are big culture drivers for them, especially in the creative sphere, where virtual gigs, artificial intelligence art and digital fashion are becoming increasingly relevant.
Both virtual and augmented reality are becoming the core of Gen Z expectations. The real opportunities for businesses lies in convincing these digital natives into real-world events to capture younger consumer loyalty. With gaming culture being a part of the generation’s mindset, they expect everything, including brand and retail experience, to be as active and participatory as standard.
By using the latest technology, businesses are developing mixed-reality initiatives to capture the attention of Generation Z. Brands are borrowing from the gaming and film world to bring this into real-life, including haptics, sonic and VR to develop traditional or existing in-store spaces and digital experience. AI and bio-smart technology will and should take this to the next level, in terms of individualising the experience.
Physical stores and the retail experience are both being redesigned. More and more new concepts are being introduced, such as ambient and interactive screens, self-service tools, virtual-trial solutions, IoT, and facial recognition, all to enhance consumer experience and deliver return-on-investment.
Involving the customers as part of a key initiative is not something new, but Gen Z is generally more wary of large and corporate communities; usually preferring to join more fragmented and niche community groups who share similar passions. Brands must embrace this though process in order to entice fans into real-world experiences and brining these customers on as partners in retail engagement.
Brands are acknowledging that in a generation that are used to digital and gaming, there is an urge for both control and personalisation. Brands are therefore giving consumers the chance to alter their environment like window displays via mobile devices or touchscreen tech.
Despite growing up online, Gen Z crave interactive and ”in real life’ experiences. The truth is that the gaming generation want technology to enable them to express themselves as individuals and connect with brands and peers through shared values. It is imperative then that the approach to appeal to Gen Z should be first and foremost human-centric; followed by technology second.