Generation Z is not turning their noses up to American Shopping Centers and this is catching retailers by surprise. The new generation loves shopping malls.
The assumption is that as you go through the age spectrum, the younger consumer growing up in this digital age would not be interested in brick and mortar. It was believed that we were going to receive a trickle-down experience as our audience became younger with shopping center owners fearing we would see fewer younger shoppers. The reason Gen Z’s love the mall is the experience to blend technology with a tactile experience. However, the technology that each of them hold in their hands is the portal to special in-store offers with push notifications and ongoing digital deals at their fingertips.
Gen Z understands themselves; they realize they spend too much time on their phones with 6 out of 10 self-diagnosing overuse, according to Bloomberg and Morning Consult. For companies that embrace this, instead of fighting it, the payoff can be rewarding.
Forever 21, consistently ranked among American teenagers’ top brands, used this to become hip by providing discounts to customers who snap a picture of themselves in outfits from their store, uploading it to all social media platforms, and tagging the store in the posts. A simple hashtag #F21PROMO has been used over 20,000 times in 2018. One user on Twitter, who hid her face with her baseball cap, wrote, “my mom is making me do this for 21% off.” Other brands are following suit such as Macy’s who have caught on to the social madness with push notifications and in-store kiosks featuring funky merchandise that “nobody needs,” but are “going to want.” Once customers walk through the neon kiosks filled with hangover relief, self-help books, purses that charge phones, dog toys, etc. Macy’s pushes an extra 20% OFF code straight to the user’s phone. The space turns over every 2-months, offering new merchandise.
The difference in the retail brick-and-mortar environment now, compared to Millennials and Gen X, is they have a marketing department hip to the internet who understand how to jump on trends and push both instant offers and information to their target market. Millennials caught retailers off-guard; they didn’t have up-to-date technology to respond with on-site surveys, offers, and other push notifications which caused retailers such as Claire’s, Charlotte Russe, Wet Seal and others to lag behind during changing times.
The brands targeting Gen Z want buy-in from their audience. American Eagle, Champion, Levi Strauss & Co. have all climbed on-board with interactions such as sewing stations where you can paint your jeans, embroider your monogram-on items, add patches to your clothing to make them unique, etc.
Tiffany & Co. recently added a new program targeted to Gen Z to introduce them to the brand. The “make it My Tiffany” program is a new concept of getting you into the store with your own piece of jewelry and engraving it at Tiffany. The Tiffany CEO’s 14-year-old daughter had her own Tiffany bracelet and had it turned into a dog collar for her fur baby. Many of the luxury brands are offering a trade in where you can bring in your used bag for credit towards a new one. This is Gorilla Marketing aimed at Fashionphile’s online pre-owned luxury handbag and accessory market. Neiman Marcus and Louis Vuitton are a few who have caught on to the trend of recycled premium products as well. Gen Z doesn’t think recycled/secondhand is a bad thing; they pride themselves on finding a great deal and having the ability to enter the luxury market, and this is exactly what Nieman Marcus is hoping to accomplish in their early recruitment efforts.
Source: ICSC, Bloomberg Report, Morning Consult