Author | Chatmeter TeamDate Posted | February 5, 2020

The next generation of consumers: understanding the Gen Z buyer journey

With an annual estimated spending of $143 billion, Gen Z’s buying power is limitless. Retailers need to know how Gen Z makes purchasing decisions and why it’s necessary to adapt to this next generation of shoppers. Gen Z consumers value brands that can provide exceptional customer experience, are user savvy, and create seamless online to offline shopping experiences. Here are the most essential strategies that retailers in 2020 must utilize in order to win over Gen Z customers.

What is Important to Gen Z?

Values, individuality, and quality set the standard for Gen Z’s purchasing decisions. Although their buying power is significant, Gen Z consumers still want to make sure they get the best quality and value for their money.

Generation Z  resonates with brands that reflect their values and take action for what they believe in.  A study by WP Engine found that 69% of Gen Z consumers are more likely to make purchasing decisions from companies that contribute to social causes. This generation is globally inclusive and expects brands to stand for causes by taking action. It’s important for brands to incorporate “mindful messaging” into their strategy in order to have an authentic approach to targeting Gen Z.

For example, brands like Petco who support animal rescue organizations are showing their company values in an authentic way. Other brands like Patagonia are demonstrating their commitment by taking action to reduce their carbon footprint. Gen Z wants brands to take a stand – but it must be done right. Brands should find out which social causes align with their company values and then activate a plan of action with appropriate messaging.

Chatmeter’s text & sentiment analysis engine, Pulse, can help you decide whether your brand’s current messaging is in line with Gen Z’s values within seconds. Whether it’s a member of Gen Z or anyone else, how someone feels about your brand can be seen by thousands of people. Pulse analyzes millions of reviews to help you identify the experience your consumers want.

The Gen Z Shopping Experience, From Click-to-Store

81% of Gen Z consumers prefer to shop in stores. This is great news for brick-and-mortar retailers, but they still have a lot of work to do online in order to bring these potential customers to their storefront.

Smart brands are creating an omnichannel retail experience that blends the digital and physical aspect of shopping, otherwise known as click-and-mortar. A click-and-mortar strategy offers increased flexible options and a better customer experience overall.

This strategy meets Gen Z’s demands of an integrated online and offline shopping experience, especially when considering 83% of shoppers used online search before visiting a store. Retailers like Target and Walmart do a great job of this by offering convenient services like buy online, pick up in-store (BOPUS) to consumers.

Over half of Gen Z use their smartphones five or more hours a day. An integrated mobile and physical shopping experience is an essential aspect of click-and-mortar that retailers must implement into their strategy. This gives Gen Z shoppers the ability to compare prices, search for discounts, and research products – oftentimes while shopping in stores. When Gen Z shoppers search for products and services on smartphones, they’ll receive local results.

Brands who show up at the top of the results page are doing a better job at optimizing for local SEO. 76% of people who search on smartphones visit a business within a day. If brands have a strong local online presence, they are more likely to be a part of Gen Z’s buyer journey process.

VEO Strategy for Gen Z

The number of smart speakers in U.S. households will grow by 135% in two years, highlighting the fact that we are now in a voice-first world. As digital natives, Gen Z leverages voice search throughout their buyer journey process. Voice technology provides the instantaneous results that Gen Z shoppers are looking for, especially when they’re multitasking on-the-go.

Preparing for a voice-first world with a Voice Engine Optimization (VEO) strategy is crucial for all brands. When a shopper uses voice search, they only receive one to three search results (depending on the device). This means the competition for brands to be featured as a search result is only getting tougher.

When consumers use voice search, they’re asking conversational questions often without mentioning a brand name. If retailers can focus on answering questions and optimizing for long-tail keywords, they’ll be more likely to rank for voice searches. Brands can create voice-ready content to answer these questions by implementing an FAQ page and optimizing for featured snippets. Multi-location brands should optimize each location’s local pages to answer non-branded searches. This meets the demands of Gen Z shoppers who are looking for the best products and services within the nearest distance.

Social Media Presence for Gen Z

More than 80% of Gen Z is influenced by social media in their shopping search. If your brand isn’t actively engaging with social media users, you’re missing out on potential revenue from this generation. As a group that heavily relies on peer recommendations, incorporating an influencer marketing strategy can prove to be beneficial in driving more sales. Influencer marketing can help extend your brand’s reach.

Having a strong social media presence gives your brand another outlet to provide customers with exceptional service. Nearly 70% of consumers said they’ve used social media for customer service at least once. This not only allows brands to create meaningful connections with Gen Z, but helps give more insight into their needs. Simply put, social media is another aspect of the omnichannel retail experience that Gen Z consumers expect.

Local SEO and Reputation Management for Gen Z

Optimizing local SEO rankings and focusing on reputation management is instrumental to targeting Generation Z consumers. Retailers need to focus on organic and local SEO so they can bring online visibility to their local stores. Chatmeter’s Local Brand Visibility (LBV) scoring system gives brands insight into the strength of their online visibility. It does this by analyzing all local SEO factors including reviews, social media presence, listings, search rankings, and even competitors to shed light on the areas that need the most improvement.

Unlike the generation before them, Generation Z consumers still prefer to shop in-store. Whether it’s through voice or text search, online resources are always used by Generation Z shoppers before deciding which stores to visit. By focusing on local SEO and review management, brands can potentially tap into Gen Z’s vast buying power and create brand-loyal consumers.

Reviews are Gen Z’s word-of-mouth, which makes reputation management one of the top priorities for brands. All brands should respond to reviews efficiently to address customers and identify potential problems. Before purchasing a product or service for the first time, 86% of Gen Z researches through reviews. Even if a trusted source were to recommend a certain product, reviews are a deciding factor to seal Gen Z’s decision in the end.

Growing up with a world of knowledge right at their fingertips, Gen Z buyers expect brands to be experts, just like them. It’s important for businesses to shape their brand strategy to target this audience. This may sound intimidating, but Chatmeter has you covered! As the leader in local SEO and reputation management, we’ll give your brand the tools you need to prepare for the next generation of consumers.