Report: Gen Z Prioritizes In-Store WiFi

More than 90 percent of Generation Z says that a strong WiFi signal is important to them and their overall shopping experience, according to a survey conducted by HRC Retail Advisory (HRC), a strategic retail advisory firm. Emerging in-store technologies and positive social media feedback are among the top priorities for both Generation Z and Millennial consumers. The survey, which also revealed a generational shift in how these consumers shop for beauty products, represents the first in a series centered around Generation Z and Millennials' attitudes, behaviors and shopping preferences.

"Millennial and Generation Z's use of technology in store, their need to stay connected to friends via social media while they shop, and how they're shopping beauty trends is changing consumer spending patterns. While the latter generation was born with a smartphone in hand, it doesn't keep them from shopping – and even preferring to shop – in brick-and-mortar stores, as long as they have access to their ever-important social network," said Farla Efros, president of HRC Retail Advisory.

"Generation Z in not only powerful on their own, but they are the ones dragging their Millennial parents (who prefer to shop online), back into the mall as well," Efros continued. "Understanding these consumer segments and how they apply to a retailer's business will be essential, as both of these generations will be crucial to retail strategies going forward."

To better understand the growing influence of Millennial and Generation Z consumers and the implications for retailers, HRC recently surveyed 1,350 participants in North America on their attitudes, behaviors and influences driving their shopping purchases.

Significant findings of the survey include:
  • Magic mirrors & retail apps enhance in-store experiences. Magic mirrors keep consumers connected. When asked if they would use a "Magic Mirror" in dressing rooms to send images through social media, 66 percent of Millennials aged 18 to 34 said they would be at least somewhat likely to use the technology, which is 50 percent more than those aged 35 to 41. In fact, Generation Z and Younger Millennials were found to embrace emerging technologies, particularly if they enhanced a connection with their social network or streamlined the shopping experience.
  • Retail apps favored over traditional in-store payments. More than two thirds (68 percent) of Millennials, and 64 percent of Generation Z state that they would likely use a retailer's app to make an in-store payment. And the number of consumers favoring apps over traditional payment methods climbs to 78 percent among Millennials aged 25 to 34.
  • Social networks drive purchase decisions. Facebook and YouTube dominate social media. Nearly 60 percent of respondents (both Millennials and Generation Z) use Facebook daily, with as high as 72 percent of Millennials age 25 to 34. YouTube ranks second amongst both demographics, with more than 55 percent using the platform daily.
  • Social media is essential for feedback. More than half of respondents (both Millennials and Generation Z) said they use social media to solicit opinions while shopping, and more than 40 percent of respondents said they have made a decision based on feedback from their network, which consists primarily of their peers. Additionally, 25 percent of Millennials say they have returned items based on feedback from social media sites, and Generation Z's return rate is as high as 62 percent.
  • Discounts & influencers are key to shopping beauty. Amazon & discount stores top traditional beauty stores. With new beauty trends constantly emerging, both Generation Z and Millennials look to Amazon and discount stores (i.e., Walmart, Target) to shop for products over traditional beauty stores (i.e., Sephora, department stores, etc.). In fact, when asked where Generation Z has purchased beauty products in the past 6 months 55 percent said discount stores and 35 percent said Amazon. For Millennials, 49 percent said they shop discount stores and 45 percent on Amazon.
  • Friends & YouTubers influence Gen Z beauty buys. While Millennials are primarily influenced by the store experience when shopping for beauty (34 percent), Generation Z cites friends and YouTube beauty gurus as their primary influences when shopping (54 percent). Store experience is significantly less important to Generation Z in beauty purchasing (11 percent).