News Brief

Work the Phone

April 24, 2019
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Trends and Forecasts

Targeting ‘iGen’ with Mobile Technology

The digital generation is here. Whether retailers are intimidated by this reality or not, it is important for them to adapt to meet the demands of the changing shopper. And there’s no greater thing that has changed society in the past 15 years than the smartphone.

Fortunately, rather than distracting customers from buying products, mobile technology has had the opposite effect on shoppers — especially when it comes to the youngest consumer group. Gen Z consumers — those born after 1998 — are using their phones more than ever to decide which products to buy and where.

The Power of Social Sharing

According to researchers at Forrester, 74 percent of Gen Z-ers spend five or more hours online every day. This means there is an increased likelihood these consumers will be some of the first to see or hear about your product if posted on social media.

Nearly 80 percent of Gen-Z consumers have purchased a product in a physical store as a result of seeing it on social media.

Sites like Instagram allow you to showcase the beauty of a product through pictures, while Twitter markets your product through the use of popular hashtags. These platforms are powerful tools that will attract Gen-Zers and get them to try and share your products on their own social media pages.

Besides posting on social media, retailers have to target Gen-Z consumers while they’ve got them in their physical spaces. A recent National Retail Federation (NRF) study recently revealed that 47 percent of Gen-Zers use their phones while in a store. They use them mostly to price check, but also to contact family and friends for advice on a product or to look up coupons.

Integrating Digital and Physical

This is the evolution of mobile technology past online shopping. Retailers must use cell phones to their advantage by giving Gen-Z consumers more interactive and convenient shopping experiences while onsite.

Take WalmartLabs, for example: The big bog retailer’s technology-driven innovation lab has begun to incorporate mobile technology into consumers’ in-store shopping experiences by focusing on the use of apps to target specific users. They launched the Walmart Shopping app so shoppers could create lists that would keep track of their items and last year they rolled out an enhanced store app that allows customers to pinpoint the exact location of an item.

“It's never been this overarching 'turning on a dime' thing,” Ojonimi Bako, WalmartLabs Director of Innovation, said in a company statement. “It's been a continual evolution of where we are.”

“Convenience, access, simplicity, and saving money are what customers are looking for, and that's what @WalmartLabs aims to deliver.”

The message rings true for other retailers as well. According to Connie Yates, public affairs coordinator for Albertsons grocery chain, “apps have become an increasingly popular and effective way to communicate.”

The Takeaway

Needless to say, an enhanced in-store shopping experience and the use of mobile technology has become intertwined. Consumer studies show that Gen-Z consumers will most likely return to a store and purchase products if they have the information they need straight on their cell phones. They will also have a more enjoyable experience overall because they can use this information to obtain store deals and save money.

The physical shopping experience is too coveted to give up — and keeping Gen-Z customers coming back can be an easy approach when you incorporate mobile technology into your stores.

By MONIQUE MENDEZ | Contributing Writer

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