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Generation Z: The future of bricks-and-mortar?

Generation Z is often perceived as the age group ready to knock the final nail into the coffin of the High Street.

Having lived throughout the largest technological boom in history, and spent a large chunk of their lives living vicariously through their phone, one could expect a complete disinterest in brick and mortar. However – this isn’t the case.

A study conducted by Mood Media found that this iGeneration is actually the most receptive to the offline customer experience, with nearly nine in 10 younger shoppers saying they are more likely to choose a store with an enjoyable atmosphere over browsing online. Research also shows that in spite of their seeming reliance of mobile technology, they actually tend to shop in brick-and-mortar stores more than millennials.

So how best to leverage that opportunity? Personalised, one-on-one experiences are the basis for building brand loyalty and an emotional connection with customers and they are exactly what Gen Z consumers are seeking.

And of course technological innovation is key to engaging with this demographic. The increasing ease of use of virtual and augmented reality for example, means these tools can be used to draw even more shoppers to brick and mortar.

Last year, Topshop unveiled a VR experience that turned their flagship Oxford Circus store into a giant looping water slide in immersive 360.

The entire store was pumped with the scent of sun lotion and a bespoke Snapchat filter created social shareability – all in all, a unique experience that was both targeted and fully immersive.

More traditional in-store experiential is also vital to creating standout on the High Street. During the annual Regent Street takeover by the American National Football League, NikeTown hosted interactive gaming challenges, bespoke Snapchat and Instagram filters and meet and greet opportunities with professional sportsmen.

Similarly, H&M’s increased focus on providing live music in store from talented young DJs, also demonstrates their desire to provide an experience unique to their shoppers and capture the attention of younger consumers.

By offering added incentives to the in-store retail experience, brands are more likely to be able to grab the attention of customers and draw them in store. What’s more, the temporary nature of these experiences introduces an element of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), which may better motivate younger people to ‘get involved’.

So what else can retailers offer to drive High Street cut through and attract the next generation of shoppers?

As a mobile-focused generation, it obviously makes complete sense for retailers to further harness their interest by incorporating mobile technologies into the in-store experience.

For example, Mood found that more than 80% of Gen Z would like to be able to receive unique, readily redeemable promotions straight to their mobile phones, while in store.

Our research also indicated a great deal of interest from younger consumers in being able to have a direct influence over the music played in retail stores, with more than 50% of Gen Z registering an interest.

There is a big opportunity to make brick-and-mortar retail flourish by acknowledging the importance of Generation Z in the retail economy of the future  – harnessing this in the right way will be the challenge for brands.


Mood Media offer experiential design and marketing solutions, helping brands connect with their customers by providing music, digital signage, scent, integrated audio visual, and interactive mobile marketing solutions that help to improve customer experience.

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