How is Gen Z Changing the Retail World? What Can We Do to Adapt?

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Written by: pTranslate Contributors


The age of technology is now in the hands of Generation Z (which we usually refer to as Gen Z). They are young, ambitious, tech-savvy, and highly adaptable to the rapidly changing technological landscape of the today’s world.

There is a good reason to call them “digital natives”. Born between mid-1990s to early 2010s, most of them are currently in their teens, while the early Gen Z are now getting ready for adulthood. In the future, when all of Gen Z steps into the world and starts shaping it, we can expect to see a lot of changes due to their progressiveness and open-mindedness. 

One of the most heavily-impacted industries by this generation is the retail industry, especially online retail. In a time when young people are almost always on the phone, retailers must not miss the opportunity to capture their attention. It’s not about being everywhere, it’s about doing the right thing.

retail gen Z

Into the minds of Gen Z - what do they want?

Young people of Gen Z have extremely different values and preferences from the previous generation – the Millennials. Gen Z is living in a high-speed world, where everything happens only in a matter of seconds. This means that we must come and advertise to them as quickly as possible. Consumer value is ever-changing, and it places a stronger emphasis on what story the brand tells than the products. We should expect the retailers to do more than just focus on the quality they deliver.

1. Approach quickly, deliver the message quickly

Young people are prone to impulsive buying and decision making. After all, they’re young, and they don’t know better. For items that are not too expensive, impulsive buying is really common, and retailers can take advantage of that. 

The world today is built for impulsive online decision-making due to the short duration of most of the content we see. Our attention span is short, and we usually don’t want to pay attention to anything longer than a 5-second ad. If retailers can’t convey the value and message they want within that 5 seconds, they might lose the game. However, with the availability of tools to create captivating ads today, it won’t be too hard.

2. Have a brand identity

If you’re looking to grow big, you’ll have to have a brand vision from the very beginning. Gen Z is a generation that values what the brand they’re choosing is doing to the customers and the community. Brand awareness has immense power to capture customers and build loyalty, especially in this interconnected world. A campaign to clean up the beach, for example, can get the attention of thousands of customers within a matter of a few days, or hours. On the other hand, negative news on the brand can spread as fast, ruining the reputation within days. 

Retailers first have to know what stories they want to tell. They need to speak to their customers – the Gen Z – who need more than just a product to use. If they find out that your products are negatively affecting the community, they might choose to leave and never return. In other words, environmental and social values are just as equally important as quality. 

We can see brands already adapting to this new perspective and attitude to the shopping behavior of Gen Z by promoting inclusion, diversity, and sustainability in the workplace. Although there have been rising arguments against this change, researches and case studies have shown otherwise. Companies that adopt sustainability and inclusion in the workplace have better brand identity and awareness. In the long run, they report being more cost-effective, while maintaining a high ROI.

3. Use the power of social media

Although Gen Z has their own values that define their uniqueness and make them stand out from previous generations, they still derive some of their opinions from others. Influencers have immense power in directing the public’s opinion and influencing their product choice. 

As they spend most of their time online consuming content created by these creators, they absorb some of their ideas, too. It’s best to leverage the power of these influencers to bring your messages to the target customers. Content created by these people is highly relevant to them, and they are more willing to listen to what they have to say. Using influencers who have a customer base that fits yours brings a high ROI while maintaining a strong message.

4. Going global

Globalization sure has brought a lot of changes and opportunities to the retail world. If you’re a growing retailer, never be afraid to tap into global markets where you’ll be likely to be exposed to a lot of potential customers there. 

Gen Z is a tech-savvy generation, and they understand the power of the interconnectedness they have in their hand. They are likely to go to the other side of the globe (online, of course) to find a product that they like. Gen Z is more willing to accept other people and cultures, as well as using their products, so there’s no reason to not advertise your products to foreign customers if you have the power to do so. Global expansion is no longer difficult thanks to powerful marketing tools like Facebook and Google.

Of course, going global has its own challenges that we all have to overcome. One of the challenges is to communicate effectively with customers from other countries. As we have mentioned above, having a strong brand identity is really important. However, communicating the same story to customers in other countries in their own languages is another problem. Having a unified message is crucial. Sometimes, you might even need to tweak a few parts in your message to make sure that it is culturally appropriate. By doing so, you’ll achieve better marketing success.

At pTranslate, we value the power of globalization and work to help retailers and businesses reach their foreign customers and expand their territory. If you’re looking to grow your business but are facing language barriers, feel free to contact us. pTranslate is always ready to help you overcome any obstacles.

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