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 Gen Z, Millennials and the Future of Shopping

January 2024 - Performance • Guides

How to Ensure Your Brand Isn’t Left on the Shelf

In recent years, the retail commerce landscape has undergone a significant transformation. With the rising influence of the Gen Z and Millennial generations shaping the future customer base for all brands, it’s crucial for businesses to evolve their omnichannel strategies to effectively capture and maintain the attention of these demographics. Adapting to the changing dynamics is not just a necessity; it’s a strategic imperative for long-term success in engaging the evolving consumer preferences of these influential generations.

We understand the importance of catering to Gen Z in the omnichannel journey. We've witnessed numerous retailers turning to us for solutions like 'buy online, pick-up in-store' (BOPIS) and have benefited from our agnostic payment partner approach. Retailers are keen to meet Gen Z consumers on whatever channel they need and convert them with the payment methods they prefer.

On the morning of 6th December, 20 esteemed brand leaders gathered to explore the shift initiated by Gen Z and Millennials in the realm of traditional commerce, and delve into strategies that brands can employ to effectively respond to these trends.

Hosted by BigCommerce in collaboration with Brave Bison, the conversation around the tables was led by Michaela Weber, VP, Business Development & GM of Payments BigCommerce. Joining her were:

Mark Byrne, Director of Paid Media at Brave Bison
Zeynel Oruk, General E-Commerce Manager at New Balance
Thomas Walker, Strategic Account Director at Feedonomics
Graeme Moran, Associate Editor at Drapers

The following is a roundup of some of the morning’s key topics:

Bricks-and-Mortar Still Matter

The 2023 Drapers report on Gen Z and Millennials —which was created in partnership with BigCommerce and looked at data from a survey of more than 2,000 adults—revealed shifts towards mobile-centric omnicommerce, preferences in physical stores, and values regarding sustainability, data privacy, the metaverse, and the cost of living crisis.

Graeme opened the discussion by highlighting “One of the more surprising things to come out of the report is that, when asked how they prefer to shop for fashion, more than half (53%) of Gen Z and Millennials chose physical bricks-and-mortar stores as their number one shopping channel—a significant increase from 39% in 2022”. Gen Z in particular favoured in-store shopping for the first time in four years.

It's important to recognise that Gen Z isn't solely comprised of digital natives; it's evident that they also value physical experiences. This is where brands need to up their game with respect to their omnichannel strategy. Gen Z’s are bored of doom scrolling, crave physical connection and view shopping as a ‘hobby’.

Infiltrating the Gen Z and Millennial Market

In order to resonate with Gen Z and Millennials, brands must thoroughly comprehend their distinct shopping behaviours. Understanding their preference for seamless online experiences and personalised interactions is key. Brands need to utilise an ecommerce platform that facilitates the tailored content and customisations which Gen Z are looking for. Ensuring a brand’s discoverability through social media platforms, influencers, and online reviews is crucial, as these demographics heavily rely on digital channels for product discovery. Mark added “Video is still the top format for dwell time, but creative is the most important element for impactful campaigns.” Regarding payment methods, embracing a variety of options, including mobile payments and digital wallets, is essential, as these generations tend to prioritise convenience and efficiency.

Adjusting website navigation to prioritise user-friendliness and optimising marketing strategies for social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok are paramount. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance that appeals to younger audiences without alienating loyal older customers. Tailoring content to each demographic’s preferences and engaging through diverse digital channels, while maintaining a cohesive brand identity, ensures a broad appeal across generations. Zeynel suggested “Focus on a maximum of 2 (social) channels that are relevant for your audience. Be authentic and personalise if you can.” and in addition Mark advised his ‘ABCD’ method; A - attract (short form video content is King) B - Brand (ensure your branding is quickly apparent front and centre of your creative), C - connect (i.e. emotional impact), D - direct (don’t forget a strong call to action).

Bridging the Gap Between In-Store and Online Experience

To bridge the gap between in-store and online shopping experiences for Gen Z and Millennial shoppers, brands need to create a seamless, integrated omnichannel strategy. Implementing technologies such as augmented reality for virtual try-ons or in-store interactive displays enhances the physical shopping experience. Moreover, a consistent aesthetic and user interface across online platforms and physical stores contribute to a unified brand identity.

Leveraging data analytics to understand customer behaviour allows brands to personalise online recommendations based on in-store purchases and vice versa, fostering a cohesive experience. Implementing features like buy online and pick up in-store or vice versa provides flexibility and convenience, aligning with the preferences of these tech-savvy generations. Social media platforms can serve as a bridge, facilitating engagement and communication between the brand and its audience, blurring the lines between the digital and physical realms. By investing in these strategies, brands create a harmonious and interconnected shopping journey that resonates with and excites Gen Z and Millennial consumers.

Scale Quickly Through Data Management, Automation and a Mobile-First Approach

To efficiently cater to Gen Z and Millennials, brands can implement strategies to manage and automate data, navigate regional nuances, and optimise product feeds. Adopting advanced CRM systems and data automation tools allows for streamlined data management, ensuring real-time insights into the preferences of these generations. Leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning enables brands to automate decision-making processes based on the evolving behaviours of Gen Z and Millennials. Tom also added that “the fastest way to increase return on your advertising spend is to ensure that product categorisation is up to date and accurate on marketplaces and ad channels.”

Navigating regional nuances involves conducting targeted market research and forming partnerships with local influencers to resonate authentically with the preferences of each region. Geotargeting in advertising campaigns ensures a personalised and localised approach. Optimising product feeds demands regular updates and employing algorithms that resonate with the dynamic tastes of younger generations.

However, the focus extends beyond mere sales transactions. For fashion brands and retailers, a comprehensive understanding of their target customers’ digital behaviours is vital for effective outreach. Omnicommerce necessitates a keen commitment to delivering personalised, pertinent content across various platforms, emphasising a mobile-first approach to align with the online consumption patterns of these generations. It’s not just about being present on these platforms; it's about crafting an integrated and tailored digital experience that resonates with the evolving preferences of the target audience.

The Pivotal Trends That Will Shape Your E-Commerce Strategy

As brands look ahead to refine their e-commerce strategies, several pivotal trends are set to shape the landscape, particularly concerning Gen Z. First and foremost, sustainability will continue to gain prominence, with environmentally conscious practices influencing purchasing decisions. Embracing immersive technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality for enhanced online shopping experiences is another transformative trend, catering to Gen Z’s appetite for innovation.

Furthermore, the integration of social commerce is becoming increasingly vital, with platforms like Instagram and TikTok evolving into powerful purchasing channels. Brands need to foster authentic and relatable connections on these platforms to resonate with Gen Z’s values. Additionally, a focus on inclusivity and diversity in marketing and product offerings is crucial, as Gen Z values representation and authenticity.

Lastly, the convenience of frictionless payment options, such as digital wallets and buy-now-pay-later services, will be essential for capturing the attention and loyalty of Gen Z consumers. Brands need to utilise an ecommerce platform which can provide the frictionless checkout experience that Gen Z consumers are looking for. Embracing these trends will empower brands to craft e-commerce strategies that align seamlessly with the preferences and values of the next generation of consumers.

BigCommerce (Nasdaq: BIGC) is a leading open software-as-a-service (SaaS) ecommerce platform that empowers merchants of all sizes to build, innovate and grow their businesses online. BigCommerce provides merchants sophisticated enterprise-grade functionality, customisation and performance with simplicity and ease-of-use. Tens of thousands of B2C and B2B companies across 150 countries and numerous industries use BigCommerce to create beautiful, engaging online stores, including Ben & Jerry’s, Molton Brown, S.C. Johnson, Skullcandy, Solo Stove and Vodafone. Headquartered in Austin, BigCommerce has offices in London, Kyiv, San Francisco, and Sydney. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

Founded in 1906, New Balance is one of the world’s major sports footwear and apparel manufacturers. They champion those who are fearlessly driven by their passions, elevate sport and do right by people and the planet.

Feedonomics is the market leader in product feed management. They empower customers through its best-in-class technology and service to list products everywhere people shop online, including Google Shopping, Amazon, and Facebook.

Drapers has been the leading authority on fashion retailing in the UK since 1887. It provides industry news, insightful analysis, commentary and key data, as well as a growing portfolio of face-to-face networking opportunities.

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