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Gen Z Insights

Your source for the latest Gen Z marketing trends and perspectives, presented by UNiDAYS.

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This is what makes a retail shopping experience stand out to Gen Z

by Jacqi Levy
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    Gen Zs love shopping in brick and mortar stores. But what exactly makes for a stellar shopping experience in this generation’s eyes? As it turns out, it’s the little things.

    Gen Zs may be a smartphone-toting, digitally-immersed bunch, but when it comes to shopping, they prefer to do it the old-fashioned way—in a brick and mortar store.

    Don’t get us wrong though, all stores are NOT created equal in Gen Z’s eyes. Zs most definitely hate bad retail. But what makes for a stand out retail experience for Gen Z may surprise you.

    Nope, it’s not cashless checkout, virtual try-on mirrors or even customizable products. According to a recent UNiDAYS survey (report coming soon), brands that want to appeal to Gen Z would be wise to master one thing above all else—THE BASICS. Yup, good old-fashioned customer service still wins the day.

    We asked some Gen Zs about what made for their best in-store shopping experience in the last six months. Here’s what they said.

    Great customer service

    When it comes to in store shopping, nothing makes for a great customer experience like outstanding service. Whether they’re shopping at Coach or Costco, Gen Zs are most impressed by friendly staff that goes out of their way to help them find what they need.

    “Going to Starbucks is always a pleasant experience. They know me by my first name and drink.”

    “[Buying] foundation matched by an employee in Sephora. It was helpful because I have trouble doing it myself.”

    “Shopping in Lululemon because there are so many options and it is very easy to find what you are looking for. Whenever I go the customer service is amazing and they let you try everything on and they are very patient. I love shopping there.”


    Easy-to-browse product displays

    For Gen Zs that arrive with a goal in mind, nothing beats the convenience of a well-organized, easy-to-navigate store. Zs have notoriously short attention spans—what they don’t have is patience for wandering through a big box maze of displays. Help them get in and out quickly—even if your store is huge—and they’ll thank you for it.

    “Shopping at Madewell because the store was easy to navigate. It was small, which made it easier to locate workers whenever I needed any additional help.”

    “Going to my local supermarket. I already know where most things are placed and they keep it that way. It makes things easier for the customers, and the checkout runs nice and smooth.”

    “My best shopping experience would have to be at Target. The store is always organized and well put together. I can count on being able to make it a quick trip if necessary and the workers are always super friendly.”


    Shopping perks that add value

    Gen Z’s are willing to splurge on an item that’s “worth it”, but they’re always looking for more bang for their buck. And that means never turning down a good deal. But to Zs, a deal doesn’t have to mean a deep discount; it could be a free gift with purchase, rewards cash or other goodies that make sticking to a budget easier.


    “I went to a Kiehls store, the attendant was very knowledgeable and made the experience pleasant. I also received many free samples which I greatly appreciated.”

    “Shopping at Walmart because I got a discounted product after a demo on how to use it.”

    Best Buy. I traded in my old MacBook Air and got a new one. They were very kind & helpful. Trading in my MacBook Air was a breeze because I didn’t want to sell it on my own.”


    Winning Gen Z with in-store retail


    For brands that want to win Gen Z’s affection, make sure you master the basics before you completely geek out on in-store tech. As a wise man once said: “Keep it simple, stupid”.

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      UNiDAYS x AdAge: Gen Z Marketing Playbook

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