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An open letter to retailers from a Gen Zer

by Rutuja Rajwade
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    Dear Retailers,

    When I was in middle school, the only way I realized that something was trendy was if Teen Vogue was writing about it or if Kim Kardashian (pre-72 day marriage) was wearing it. When it came time to go shopping I had to find something that resembled what I’d seen a year ago on TV. 

    It was a pyrrhic victory. Not all size fours are created equal and even if I did find something that fit, it was definitely out of my price range. That outfit, or a great knock-off, was finally acquired and shortly went out of fashion after. In-store retail was a boring maze of racks, and online shopping was a confusing mess. Store layouts weren’t fun enough to engage me, and the lack of online reviews made me want to give up all together. 

    Shopping was time consuming, disconnected and an expensive hobby. Ten years later – the game has only *kind of* changed. Here’s why:

    I am exposed to thousands of images a day and I only pay attention to eight.  

    But, why those eight? Most, if not all, of the accounts I follow on Instagram or Twitter are dedicated to fashion influencers and what they wore on their vacation to the Maldives. The eight pictures I do engage with for more than a second engage with me back. I don’t need a monthly magazine subscription to tell me what’s cool anymore because I have immediate access to thousands of articles of clothing via Instagram blogger and shopping apps. Kendall Jenner’s closet is the one I want to raid now because she just posted it on her Instagram story. The best part? I don’t have to look far because she linked to every item she showed.


    There’s nothing better than being immersed in an in-store retail experience to get fresh Instagram material.

    A favorite beauty brand of mine launched a pop-up, and advertised it via their Instagram story. The story literally immersed me in their new perfume, and made me want to go immediately. You know what I did? I went to the pop-up and I bought the perfume right away. The display was a breathtaking Instagrammable view of florals coupled with the insane smell of the perfume itself. If I had walked into another beauty boutique, where the perfumes were all lined up with no distinction from one another, I would have been left without an Instagram post or a product.

    As someone who online shops a lot, I trust reviews more than anything.

    When I do find something I like, I want it ASAP. There’s nothing more satisfying than staying ahead of the trend curve before your friends, especially if you spent less than they did on it. Latergrams are for squares – especially when it comes to your outfit. Trust is the key to my heart and I need to know that what I’m getting is worth every penny. I also don’t want to play a guessing game with sizes because if the four fits, odds are I will shop at that store forever. But for so many retailers, standard sizing seems like an impossible dream. But to get me, you need to make it a reality, and make it right on my first time ordering.

    The bottom line is that in order to sell me on your brand, it needs to be accessible, affordable, engaging and available to me immediately.

    Am I a Gen Z college student? No, but I am still a Gen Zer, just a half a year out and much hasn’t changed in that time. I spend my days trying to influence retailers to listen to what Gen Z wants, and mind you, I applied to work here because I was an avid UNiDAYS user. So, here I am. A real, live Gen Zer sitting here trying to get your attention. I may be a case study of one but I represent millions of us. Everyone knows we want our opinions heard, but I also want our opinions to matter.



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