Retailers Must Adapt to Emerging Generation Z Consumers

HRC Retail Advisory Survey Finds Gen Z Influences Parents’
Purchases, Shops in Malls and Ranks YouTube as Top Social Platform

NORTHBROOK, Ill.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–With Generation Z expected to comprise 40% of the North American
Population by 2020, retailers must address the needs of this generation
and understand its purchasing power in households. According to a survey
conducted by HRC Retail Advisory, recognizing the differences between
generational segments and understanding the implications of Generation
Z’s influence will be critical in successfully targeting and serving
this age group (10-17).

“Retailers must be nimble in order to effectively appeal to Generation Z
consumers,” said Farla Efros, President of HRC Retail Advisory.
“Resonating with this group at a young age can have a huge impact on
retailers’ long term consumer retention and brand loyalty. Social media
and digital advertising will be dominant in marketing strategies
targeted to Generation Z, but retailers must adopt these mediums in
interactive ways to inspire and engage this emerging generation of

To better understand the growing influence of Generation Z and the
implications for retailers, HRC surveyed 3,100 participants from the US
and Canada on their attitudes, shopping habits and influences driving
their purchasing decisions.

Significant findings of the survey include:

Generation Z Strongly Influences Parents’ Purchases

Generation Z has a strong voice and expects to be heard, especially when
it comes to what their parents are buying. A significant 82% of parents
surveyed admitted that their children have some influence over
purchasing decisions, while 93% of the Generation Z respondents say they
have influence over certain categories such as clothing, footwear,
accessories and cosmetics.

YouTube Tops Facebook As Most Visited Social Platform

YouTube is the top social platform for Generation Z with 54% of
respondents stating that they visit YouTube daily in order to receive
information. This is a significant deviation from Millennials who named
Facebook as their most visited social platform. About 50% of Generation
Z visits Facebook daily, with Instagram and Snapchat falling behind at
34% and 29% respectively.

According to Generation Z, Malls are Not Dead

Despite being raised with the internet, Generation Z is still going to
the mall to shop. While approximately 60% of all survey respondents said
they visit a mall or shopping center at least once a month, a whopping
72% of Generation Z respondents said they visited the mall at least once
a month and stayed for at least an hour, visiting 4.4 stores on the
trip. Generation Z-ers are not browsers, as 60% of these high frequency
visitors go to the mall with a clear intention of making a purchase for

Generation Z Votes Friends as Most Influential

Moving forward, retailers will need to reconsider the implications of
their selection of spokespeople to represent their brands. A majority of
Generation Z respondents (62%) deemed friends as the most influential
party on their buying decisions. Athletes came in a distant second at
14%, with Bloggers/YouTubers closely following at 13%. Celebrity and
singer endorsements were ranked the lowest, at 6% and 7% respectively.
89% of Generation Z respondents also said they would be more likely to
enter a store based on where their friends shop.

Digital in their DNA

Generation Z is already buying online, and often. 50% of Generation Z
respondents stated that they shop online at least once a month. Of those
making online purchases within the last 12 months, 77% stated they have
purchased something from Amazon, and 34% have purchased something from

Tips For Retailers

HRC Retail Advisory notes that retailers need to consider the following
five factors to most effectively serve Generation Z consumers:

  • Depict them as diverse (ethically, socially, fashionably)
  • Communicate more frequently in short bursts using content
  • Allow them to personalize, give them control and preferences
  • Talk to them about values and social causes
  • Instead of creating demand using Hollywood celebrities, use real
    people or internet/YouTube stars to market your brand

Notes on Survey Methodology and Analysis

HRC Retail Advisory’s survey findings are based on a targeted sample of
four distinct demographics: Millennials with no children, Millennial
parents of children under 18, Generation X and Baby Boomer parents of
children under 18, and children ages 10-17. The sample size was 675 per
group in the United States, and 100 per group in Canada. The survey was
fielded in October 2016 and was completed through proprietary sample
sources amongst panelists who participate in online surveys. The total
sample size was 3,100 completes.

About HRC Retail Advisory

HRC Retail Advisory is a leading strategic retail advisory firm based in
Northbrook, IL that helps retailers unlock value across key operating
functions: including helping retailers to develop cost-effective cost
infrastructures to transform their businesses in this new economy,
enhance merchandise strategy, margin and inventory optimization,
merchandise planning and allocation, store operations including more
effective labor management and more cost-efficient supply chains. For
more information, visit


Berns Communications Group
Stacy Berns / Danielle Poggi