Welcome to the Retail Rundown, your go-to weekly podcast where RETHINK Retail teams up with industry experts to discuss the news and trends defining the world of retail.

Did you know 73% of Gen Z consumers have increased the time they spend shopping online? In this episode, we explore this digitally native generation as we take a deeper look at their purchases, preferences, and the retail campaigns making waves on TikTok.

Joining us today are Dara Busch, president of 5WPR’s consumer practice, and Trinity Wiles, co-founder and director of product development at Where & Share.

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Hosted by Carol Spieckerman; Written and produced by Gabriella Bock; Edited by Trenton Waller; Social media by Natalie Arana

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Julia Raymond Hare:
Hello and welcome to The Retail Rundown. I’m your host, Julia Raymond Hare. And today, we are joined by my guest, Dara Busch, and Trinity Wiles. Dara is the president of 5WPR’s consumer practice. And Trinity is the co-founder and director of product development at Where & Share. Dara and Trinity, thank you both for joining me today.

Dara Busch:
Thank you for having us.

Trinity Wiles:
Thank you so much for having us.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Absolutely. It’s really fun to have you on the show because we’re talking about something very relevant today. If you’re listening, you might’ve seen a lot of viral TikTok commotion about Gen Z, who is calling out millennials for wearing skinny jeans and having side hair parts. If you haven’t seen that, you will probably see it soon, but we are going to talk about Gen Z today as a consumer and how they are impacting the retail space. And so this is the most buzzed about consumer group. Both of the guests today are our experts. Dara, your company 5W PR recently released their 2021 consumer culture report. And it had a bunch of interesting stats. A couple stood out. One is that almost three out of four Gen Z consumers have increased the time they’ve spent online shopping, and 30% are adding anywhere from one to four additional hours each day shopping online. So it’s huge. What would you say about the findings? Are there any other things you wanted to share?

Dara Busch:
It’s definitely pretty insane. The interesting thing is, I’m not sure they’re spending all the time shopping, but they’re definitely spending hours digging through and looking at different things, including their social channels. And for them, I think people have more time than ever. No one for the most part is commuting. People are home. And I think that Gen Z find their way of life on the digital channels, and over social, and are shopping, and are looking, and exploring. And so I think that it’s not such a big surprise that those numbers are as high as they are.

Trinity Wiles:
And I would say this is a generation that has grown up with technology in their hands. I think the average age that they get a phone is 10 years old. So they’re hyper-connected, and they are more accessible than ever now being online more. But it is a little harder to cut through the noise and actually reach them. They do value community. So that’s why they’re really drawn to social media and building communities online, and where they’re hanging out, and spending their time. But yeah, that’s that study is not surprising at all to me.

Dara Busch:
No. And then I also think that brands are doing a really good job engaging with these consumers. Engaging with, whether it’s Gen Z or any consumer for that matter. But they’re coming up with really creative ways to engage with them and doing things like VR to try on products and definitely capturing them where they are. There’s brands that I think are really cool, like Gucci and Nike and Warby Parker. I mean, they’re doing such a great job at sort of, “Hey, why don’t you just try this? I know you can’t come into my store, or you can but maybe you won’t, but try this on here at home.” And so they’re definitely engaging in a really cool way with those Gen Zers and Gen Z’s enjoying it and then they’re using those images on their own social channel.

Trinity Wiles:
Right. And I think consumer-generated content is huge. I saw that Snapchat actually did a study and showed that 48% of Gen Z spend their time online creating photos and doing things that are creative, whether it’s creating memes or unintentionally, even promoting brands. So I think tapping into this really creative generation is going to be really key for these brands.

Julia Raymond Hare:
I think that’s an excellent point that both of you guys are making on just how brands are reaching them. And Trinity, you said earlier, it is getting more difficult. And your comment from the Snapchat study, you referenced where almost half of Gen Z are spending time online creating things. It reminds me of Halloween a few years back. I don’t know if you guys remember, but there was a big trend of the VSCO girl. Do you guys remember that?

Dara Busch:
Yeah. Of course.

Trinity Wiles:
Yeah. I do.

Julia Raymond Hare:
It’s just how to brands keep up? I mean, what would the recommendation be? Do you hire Gen Z consumers to help you keep up with them? Or it seems like there’s something new every day.

Dara Busch:
I think that that’s what a lot of brands are doing. One of the big fashion houses, it might’ve been Chanel. They hired a bunch of, at the time, what were millennials interns. But each executive had a millennium millennial intern that followed them, that talked to them. And they really dove into the minds of millennials to really understand the way they think, the way they act, the way they work. And it’s a brilliant idea. And I definitely think that I would love to have some real time with a Gen Z that’s not one of my own that can really sort of show me the light in a different perspective and through their lens and goggles. I think it’s really, really important.

Trinity Wiles:
I completely agree with that. I think that’s one of the biggest things I know I saw that Guess actually did a campaign, the #inmydenim campaign on TikTok. And they capitalized on using that trend where you would jump and your outfit would change. And they actually used influencers and their campaign got like 42 million views of their hashtag. And that was their very first post, which is crazy. So they were really tapping into the influencers, and not only that, but the trend that’s relevant at the time. So they really did a good job with that one.

Dara Busch:
Definitely.

Julia Raymond Hare:
That’s amazing. Whoa, those stats are huge. And it speaks to how the platform still has a lot of opportunity for brands and retailers to reach consumers versus maybe some other platforms that are more established, more saturated. Adding on to Trinity’s example from Guess, we researched a few in preparation for this episode. One was Chipotle. So they launched a #boorito, play on words there with “Boo” for Halloween. Campaign, it got 4 billion views, so huge. And then Elf Cosmetics, they harnessed the power of TikTok to get 3.8 billion views for one of their campaigns. My question to both of you, for the retailers listening, if they’re not on TikTok already, is that a mistake?

Trinity Wiles:
I think if you’re trying to reach Gen Z, that is where they’re spending a ton of their time. That’s where they’re creating. I think it’s not even enough to just be on the platform. You need to actually tap into the network of influencers and the content creators that are creating videos and creating these viral trends.

Dara Busch:
We see with our clients and with brands that we follow, that there is such a huge authenticity about TikTok That if you’re not there, you’re really missing out on a really good opportunity. Because brands just aren’t working with Instagram the same way, because consumers aren’t purchasing from Instagram the same way. And so TikTok has been really fun to watch. And especially this last year, it’s really exploded. And especially Gen Z, I mean, they’re really diving in there and they’re there they’re willing to engage because they feel like they can see things in their own lives through different people they follow and different brands. I mean, it’s also real.

Trinity Wiles:
Right. And I feel like right now, TikTok is still in its early stages where it’s kind of like the Wild West. Like there’s really no set standards. You don’t need to have the perfect Instagram theme, the standards for Instagram these days. TikTok is still kind of the Wild West. And there’s a huge opportunity because their alogrhythms are really proprietary because they’re so personalized at getting into niche content that people really have the ability to grow their accounts, grow their followings quickly.

Julia Raymond Hare:
That’s a good point because it’s probably better to be more of an early adopter, considering, like you said, now Instagram, the standards are really high. You have to have a very curated feed. Things have to be consistent. Even the filters you use need to be consistent. There’s a lot that goes into it.

Trinity Wiles:
Right.

Julia Raymond Hare:
And for our listeners, just so you know, this stat was updated this month, February, 2021. And TikTok is now available in over 150 countries and they have 1 billion users and has been downloaded over 200 million times in the US alone. So the growth is huge. Dara and Trinity, I wanted to ask you guys, I guess I’ll start with Dara. Knowing what we know about Gen Z, are there any best practices from working with your clients about how to sell using consumer generated content?

Dara Busch:
I think you have to be… We tell our brands and our clients, “You have to be smart and you have to be careful.” There are a lot of brands that have stepped in it because they’re not they’re not following and making sure that they know what’s being posted. And obviously if you follow, for example, Adidas, I’m not sure if you remember, but Adidas did an incredible program Dare to Create, which sounded like an awesome idea, except that everything was going to their micro-site and they took their eye off the prize. And all of a sudden before you know it, there are negative and really sort of salacious things being posted on their micro-site and that great idea, that great hashtag got ruined because no one was keeping their eye on the prize.

Dara Busch:
So you need to make sure that you’re always looking at what your, what what you’re posting, you always are looking at the different hashtags that you’ve got out there. And also make sure that you’re crediting everybody the right way. There’s got to be a feeling that you’re doing things right. And you want people to like you, and you want people to really follow what you’re doing. And so you have to be authentic and you have to make sure that you continue to give credit where it’s due.

Trinity Wiles:
Yeah. And I would just going off of that, authenticity is so important to Gen Z, so having that consistent messaging across platforms and making sure that the influencers that you’re working with are authentic and align with your brand views are really important.

Dara Busch:
You know what’s also interesting is that when we did our study, we had two other stats that I think are really relevant here. One is that Gen Z, talking about Gen Z, 56% of them agree to that it’s important that they they buy from companies that they align with their values. And so I think that’s really important that brands realize that that people care. And I think everything is watched under a microscope. And and another stat that we have is that 45% of those folks boycotted a company because, and maybe they previously purchased from that company, but that’s because they didn’t like their stance on an issue. And so people are very motivated about what brands stand for. And so I think it’s really important that we remember that when you’re a brand, you have to make sure that that authenticity stays true to who you are and that you don’t get yourself sort of stuck going down the wrong path.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And I think there’s a lot of flagship examples of brands that have done that really well. And then ones that have really took a plummet, Nike comes to mind is a brand that’s always doing that well when their campaign last year for once, Don’t Do It, Stay Home to help protect others. That was well received. And even their competitor Adidas, which you were mentioning earlier, they retweeted some of Nike’s posts, which was really a sign of solidarity among competitors. So it was really great to see but would you guys say Gen Z… You mentioned 45% have boycotted a company because they didn’t like their stance on an issue. And I know it’s a touchy subject because companies are increasingly more human in their marketing and in their communications with the public, and that people do want them to take a stance, but do you think Gen Z is loyal or not loyal as a cohort?

Trinity Wiles:
I would say that they don’t have a lot of brand loyalty, but it depends because they do want to buy from brands that align with their reviews. And the expectation now is actually that these brands and these companies do take stands on these views. So I think loyalty depends less about the product and more about what the brand stands for.

Dara Busch:
A brand that’s kind of an interesting brand that that to look at is Calvin Klein. And they did that #proudinmyCalvins campaign. And that was a really cool campaign that I think really made people, and especially Gen Z, really connect to the brand. And when you look at sort of what they did, it, it really combined all the different pieces of what those Gen Zers years look for. They like influencers. They like to follow influencers. But it started with non-influencers, but then picked up its own groundswell of UGC because people really like the hashtag and really want to get involved in. So I think that’s a great example of how Gen Z are loyal, but also loyal to their cause, because they dive in there and they really want to follow a brand and engage with a brand that stands for something pretty big.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Absolutely. Calvin Klein is a great example. And there was one other stat I forgot to mention from your report that was really telling for any retailers or brands listening. And that was Gen Z, 28% of them said they’ve purchased a product they saw on TikTok. And knowing that the majority are on TikTok, that’s a pretty big number, getting towards one and three. Trinity, I think it was you, we connected on LinkedIn originally, saw some of the great content you were putting out. And I believe one of them, you put out a video where you were talking about TikTok, and I think you said it’s game over if they released?

Trinity Wiles:
Oh, yes. Shoppable videos. I think that is game over if they introduce that feature, kind of like how Instagram has introduced the shoppable pins. I think that’s the future of e-comm if they could implement something like that.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Dara, what would you say about the future of e-comm? Do you agree?

Dara Busch:
I don’t know. It makes me nervous to the idea that you can… So when I look at Instagram, for example. In everything, when it became sort of shoppable, I think that it really was the beginning to the end of people wanting to buy off of Instagram. And I think our stats sort of show that. And so I love how fresh and how real TikTok is. And so I worry that it becomes a shoppable platform to that degree, I’m afraid that it’s just going to lose its authenticity and folks will look elsewhere to get authentic content.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I could definitely see that argument as well. Just out of curiosity, have you have either of you purchased anything from Instagram?

Dara Busch:
Oh my God.

Trinity Wiles:
Instagram, yes. TikTok, not yet. But I do see really cool products on TikTok that I follow because of the content that people are putting out.

Dara Busch:
I have not bought anything off of TikTok, but I bought something off of Instagram recently. And it was a pair of shoes that I thought were interesting. And what was really interesting is that the brand that I bought the shoes from, when I swiped up to shop, they were out of stock. But I could use my phone number to be put on a wait list. And within minutes, I got a text message saying they happened to find one pair of those shoes. So it was an interesting way to engage with a brand because all of a sudden, I have someone from one of their stores text me. And like a sucker, I wasn’t really going to buy them. I was just sort of looking at them. And now I own these shoes. I’m not even sure I like them. But I feel bad because I didn’t buy it from a store or an online site, I actually bought it from a person who worked in the store. And so now I’m kind of stuck with shoes I don’t totally want, but it worked. So.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Brilliant marketing.

Dara Busch:
Brilliant marketing. Brilliant marketing.

Trinity Wiles:
That’s good.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Absolutely. And they’re taking a page out of luxury’s book. I mean, that’s something that I keep seeing is more of how luxury is very human, very personalized. Brands of all sizes, scale, price points are picking up some of those tactics with text messaging, I’m seeing a rise of SMS capabilities from brands. And if we look to China, they have WeChat stores where it’s super community based. So I think that’s definitely where we’re heading. It might not be WeChat, but maybe these other platforms.

Dara Busch:
I would urge your listeners to go to our report and to read the whole thing. I think there’s a lot of stuff in there that’s not shocking, but there are also a lot of really interesting points in there about what people are spending their money on based on demographics and all different. It’s tactical of info. So I would love to ask your listeners to come and to check out the rest of our consumer report.

Dara Busch:
You can find it right on off our homepage at fivewpr.com.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Perfect. Perfect. And then Trinity, while we still have you on the show, I know you are an entrepreneur and a co. So can you just tell us really quickly about Where & Share?

Trinity Wiles:
Yeah. So at Where & Share, we’re developing interactive mirrors for retail stores. So consumers can actually capture content of what they’re trying on in stores with some cool, mixed reality features, kind of like Snapchat filters. So they can switch out the background of images that they take in the stores and then push that to their social channels. So that’s consumer-generated content for the retailer. We’re working on our Where & Share mobile application that we will be launching here in quarter two that actually will show trends in real time of what people are trying on based on location, as well as our retail analytics and marketing platform. So it’s all automated. We really want to be that end-to-end solution for product discovery, in store experiential, and social sharing and e-comm capabilities.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Amazing. Great stuff from both of my guests today, Dara Busch and Trinity Wiles. If you’re listening, please, as always, add us all on LinkedIn. You can find us and connect with us there. I’m also now on the new Clubhouse app at Julia R. Hare. So go ahead and give me an add. I pop on there quite frequently now. So happy to have both of you on the show. Thanks again. I hope you have you on in the future.

Dara Busch:
Thank you.

Trinity Wiles:
Thanks so much, Julia.

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