How Gen Z is Reviving the Shopping Mall

Millennials may have tried to “kill” the shopping mall, but Generation Z (Gen Z) may be the generation to save it. They’re the next generation of U.S. consumers that have buying habits different from past generations. Gen Z makes up for 2.5 billion around the world with 60 million in the U.S. alone. This generation has $44 billion of buying power.

Retailers are quickly realizing that traditional marketing techniques don’t work with this mobile-savvy crowd. Gen Z has become a new breed of shopper. While they still visit malls and look for must-have items, their expectations, motivations, and relationship with brands are different.

In order to survive beyond the retail apocalypse, retailers must attract this generation by changing the in-store experience. They should implement mobile and social media strategies and create a highly personalized experience across all of their channels. Here are five ways that Gen Z is reviving the shopping mall.

They Want to Use Their Phones to Shop

Gen Z knows that they spend a lot of time on their phones and they don’t try to fight it. Six out of 10 spend time on their phones, according to a survey by Bloomberg and Morning Consult. Ninety-one percent of Gen Z consumers are looking for deals or reading online reviews while shopping inside retail locations.

Brick-and-mortar retailers have to find new ways to attract the Gen Z crowd. One of those concepts may include making some of their displays more Instagram-worthy. Gen Z shoppers want to be entertained when they go shopping. Macy’s launched its “Story” themed shop-in-shop in April 2019. This 7,500-square-foot space is painted with rainbow colors, made from Crayola crayons. It features a ping-pong table on one end and a rainbow tunnel on the other end.

The items offered in “Story” are the things that “nobody needs” but are “going to want” once they experience this themed store. Some of those items include hot dog-shaped dog toys, purses that charge devices, and self-help books on treating hangovers. Every two months, the theme changes and the space is renovated. That involves designing new Instagram-worthy displays, installing new carpets, and repainting the walls. That’s because Gen Z doesn’t like predictability when it comes to shopping in a department store. They want to return and find something different.

They Want to Customize the Shopping Mall

They also want to be a part of that customization experience. Half of Gen Z consumers want to help find products that focus on their interests and tastes, according to a 2018 report from IBM and the National Retail Federation. Retailers are responding by using cutting-edge technology that responds to their requests from the start.

For example, American Eagle Outfitters allows its customers to attach patches and add paint to their perfect pair of jeans. Levi Strauss is trying to compete with the young adult retailer by opening tailor shops that allow its customers to add monogram stitching to their iconic jeans. Even luxury retail brands are finding ways to offer personalized products in order to attract this generation of shoppers.

They’re Willing to Buy Secondhand

As this generation comes into its own, they’re searching for a good deal. They also want to shop from eco-friendly and sustainable retailers. As a result, Gen Z is turning to secondhand clothing at a rapid pace, according to ThreadUp’s 2019 Resale Report. One out of three consumers is expected to purchase secondhand clothing this year.

How are retailers competing with secondhand shops? Neiman Marcus collaborated with Fashionpile to launch a handful of in-store showrooms that allow customers to purchase used clothing and accessories. Neiman is hoping that this new venture will attract Gen Z consumers with used items from some of its well-known brands. The retailer wants to entice this young generation to buy some of their luxury products.

They Still Enjoy Brick-and-Mortar Stores

While Gen Z loves to shop online, they still enjoy browsing at brick-and-mortar stores, even more so than Millennials. Thirty-eight percent of Gen Z consumers still enjoy the in-store experience, according to the National Retail Federation.

Their shopping habits have made them more traditional than Millennials. They don’t see offline and online shopping as two separate entities. They like the idea of combining digital and physical shopping by creating an improved shopping experience. While Millennials are “killing” malls everywhere, Gen Z consumers are flocking to them.

This generation visits shopping malls with their families and less so individually. That’s because most of them are getting their license later in life than previous generations since most states have moved the driving age from 17 to 18. They have to rely on their parents or older friends as a form of transportation, and that has an impact on brick-and-mortar retailers and shopping trends.

They’re Pragmatic When It Comes to Shopping

Since Gen Z became of age during the recession, most of them are cautious about finances. More of them are becoming fiscally conservative regarding debt and pragmatic about their spending habits. While they may spend more on high-end brands, it’s because those brands have longevity and durability. Some of them choose to shop at thrift stores over brand names.

Gen Z also has entrepreneurial aspirations and ideals earlier than did previous generations. Most of them are already launching their own blogs, online businesses, and YouTube channels to generate their own income. Seventy-seven percent of teens and young adults are already making their own money through entrepreneurial efforts, according to a study from the Center for Generational Kinetics. This has lead them to become more resourceful with their money.

The world may still be adjusting to the changing shopping habits of Millennials, but Gen Z is still coming into their own when it comes to consumerism. Retailers need to attract this generation by providing an engaging experience that goes beyond making a sale. These marketing techniques are different from previous generations, but retailers need to embrace this change if they want to survive the brick-and-mortar business.