I have no idea what generation would claim me. I’m not a baby boomer and the alphabet soup that follows – Xers, Ys, Zs, — are far too young. Egads! Some of these youth have never seen a landline. Never mind, I don’t know the difference between emails and text messaging, either. I confess it. For me, the Z generation might as well live on a different planet.
But the differences are superficial, aren’t they? If you prick any one of us, do we not bleed? And don’t most of us love a sale?
When it comes to shopping, my generation has much in common with the Zs, those between the ages of 7- 22. Like me, they enjoy going to the Mall. (“A New Crop of Mall Rats,” by Tiffany Kary and Kim Bhasin, Bloomberg Businessweek, April 29, 2019, pgs. 13-14) Admittedly, they have different expectations than I do, but of greatest importance to me is they are breathing life into brick-and-mortar retail.
The difference between my generation and the Zs is how we shop. I wander from counter to counter looking for a “sale” sign. My younger cohorts have a less demanding strategy. They press their noses to their smartphones to search for internet sales. When they find what they want, they head for the appropriate department store like a bee to a poppy field. No effort wasted.
This change in shopping habits requires retailers to rethink how to attract customers. If window displays have no pull, what does? The answer lies with “influencers,” mini divas and gurus who reside on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. If one of these experts gives a product the nod, it flies off the shelves. So the new game in town is to keep not only customers but influencers happy.
Novelty is a key element. That means stores must hold frequent sales and feature dramatic displays that change, as well. Macy’s devotes entire retail spaces to the Zs. These are places where the walls get a new coat of paint and a fresh line of stock once a month, together with dramatic staging similar to a rock concert. No one would consider flashing lights over the top.
Today the art of retailing lies not only in knowing what to pitch to customers but where to find them. The youngest ones are gathering on their smartphones.