- Jackie Mallon |
Gen Z, digital natives aged between 7 and 23, is a massively fetishized group when discussing the future of retail. So Stylus forecasters at the semi-annual Decoded Future New York created a presentation focused on how to tap into this 40 percent of consumers, which now harbor some major spending power. Here is a summery.
In an uncertain world, this consumer seek reassurance and remains out of reach of traditional avenues of advertising which are seen as lacking transparency, instead relying on curated market places with apps such as Yeay which allow them to recommend and rate products with their community. Powering the brand of self and supporting the side hustle motivates this group of cautious opportunists. A rise in micro-entrepreneurism already evident in the teen traders on Stock X, the self-described “world’s first stock market for things” where buyers can make bids and complete transactions on everything from Yeezys to Louis Vuitton trunks. The review culture will remain dominant due to Gen Z’s trust issues.
The halo of help will be important for brands hoping to engage this consumer. For example, Performix House, a gym which bills itself as a content creation house caters to the gym rat who wants assistance in creating perfect Instagram content. Requiring a rigorous application process including a review of applicant’s Instagram page to determine how serious they are about a fitness lifestyle, its members are made up of fitness influencers, celebrities, and models all seeking personalized attention, photo studio, and in-house production team to stand out in social media crowd and grow their following. Similarly Asos launched Collusion to be a constantly evolving experimental brand created by 6 collaborators––students, activists, stylists, image-makers––to meet the diverse needs of its young consumers by giving them control.
Retail meets media
“What young consumers want is well-constructed content. They’ll happily watch for a long time if it’s well-considered and produced,” says Jenny Quigley-Jones, MD, Digital Voices, an agency that specializes in YouTube content campaigns, and an alumnus of Google. Podcasts from favorite brands, such as the Nike Fenom Effect which shares athletes’ inspiring stories or The Memory Of…With John Galliano in which the designer discusses the inspiration behind his latest Maison Margiela runway are successful examples of how to reach this consumer.
Too much attention becomes a burden. Bombarded with hype and marketing Gen Z appreciate knowing when to tune in for what interests them such as Streetwear content on Thursdays. The NTWRK, a QVC meets Comicon style platform, offers exclusive drops by celebrities at specific times.
Neo-Education: Student Support
These young people are slower to drive, have sex, and cut the apron strings than previous generations and brands are responding by giving then a leg up. Alexander McQueen’s Saraband foundation offers scholarships to young designers with student drawings ending up becoming embroideries adorning dresses on the Spring 20 runway. American Eagle’s communal study space and wall of washer driers are also examples of the support brands are providing.
Urban Outfitters in-store hangout spaces combines retail, dining, events, pop-ups and artist collaboration to encourage young people to remove themselves from the black mirror of their phone screens. On a larger scale, the Sole DXB festival in Dubai unites footwear, music, art, and lifestyle, encouraging brands to become associated with feel-good, life-enhancing experiences.
Brands confronting anxiety
Mental health is at the strategizing forefront of brands which serve Gen Z most efficiently and Happy Not Perfect is one example which puts feeling good at the heart of its retail. The Phluid project has branded itself as the first port of call for individuals questioning their sexuality, and their families. Puma Reform provides a platform for activists from the worlds of sports, music and entertainment to advocate for social change. Vans is one of the top 10 teen brands aided by its global campaign for female empowerment with Girls Skate India.
Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry.