Gen Z’s concern for health could benefit brick-and-mortar shops

20 September 2019 3 min. read
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Gen Z is more concerned with both mental and physical health than millennials or Gen X – and it could be a benefit to brick-and-mortar shops, according to a report from global consultancy A.T. Kearney.

The report “How Gen Z’s Concern With Emotional Health Fuels Retail Growth And Failure” surveyed 1,500 American and Canadian consumers from four generations, and showed that Gen Z's self-reported higher levels of stress and concern from news and social media platforms.

Because of this stress, Gen Z shoppers tend to purchase items related to health and wellness more often than other generations. At the same time, they also value “simple and sustainable” products, with 65% preferring simple packaging, and 58% preferring that packaging to be eco-friendly. Fifty-seven percent, meanwhile, seek products that are environmentally sustainable.

Gen Z members show higher levels of concern and stress from news and social media than previous generations

Higher levels of stress in Gen Z shoppers also presents itself in the desire to distance themselves from an online presence that can at times be all-encompassing – meaning brick-and-mortar retail outlets are at an advantage. The report showed that 73% of Gen Z shoppers used in-store experiences to find new products, with 81% of Gen Z respondents confirming that they like to purchase in-store.

"I think one of the things the survey shows us is that, despite being the first full generation of digital natives, Gen Z is looking at brick and mortar retailing as a way to, 'disconnect,' from the stress of social media while at the same time getting emotionally closer to the online influencers and celebrities they follow," Nora Kleinewillinghoefer, co-author of the report and a principal in A.T. Kearney's retail and consumer goods practice, said.

Brick-and-mortar-outlets, however, have by no means a firm handle on Gen Z shoppers. Emotional sensitivity can be as much a burden as it is a boon. While more likely to shop in-store, they have much less patience for poor service, and prefer a “well-curated experience” with a “limited number of offerings.”

Customer experience should be prioritezed as Gen Zers are more likely to let negative experiences deter them from a purchase

Retailers would also be wise to consider geographical location, the report revealed. Canadian Gen Z respondents are fairly different from their American counterparts. Overall, they are less attracted to sustainable products, feel more comfortable in-store, and aren’t as influenced by reviews, endorsements, or peer recommendations.

"This survey strengthens our previous findings and helps create a roadmap for consumer companies to react to Gen Z consumers," Greg Portell, an A.T. Kearney partner and head of the firm’s consumer practice, said. "The findings underscore two important points: one, Gen Z is continuing to evolve, forcing marketers to view this as a snapshot in time requiring quick response; and, two, the difference between U.S. and Canadian respondents – and the spread of responses – reminds us that we can't afford to generalize too far about this cohort of consumers known for their individuality."