Gen Z shoppers have raised expectations from digital experiences during the pandemic which present challenges for traditional retail brands who fail to innovate, new research from Sitecore reveals.

Retailers are at risk of being blanked by the Generation Z demographic (under 24s) who after a year of online shopping are less loyal and more impatient than they were before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

Digital experience platform Sitecore’s survey of over 1,000 young people aged 18-24, and a total of over 2,000 Irish consumers, conducted by global research specialists Advanis, reveals that 61pc of Gen Z say they are now less loyal to the brands they usually shop at, compared to 29pc of Baby Boomers (aged 55+).

“If brands are to win over Gen Z, who represent the future of their customer base, they must create personalised digital experiences to cut through the competition”

A further 73pc of Gen Z believe they’ve become less patient with poor online experiences since the pandemic.

The results reveal Gen Z as increasingly skilled online shoppers who expect brand identity and service to seamlessly transfer to the online world.

Keep on shopping in the real world

Upon the reopening of Ireland’s shops opening their doors, there is some risk of Gen Z shunning real-world shopping altogether; they are much more likely to describe themselves as digital converts who want to keep buying everything online since the pandemic (60pc compared to 20pc of those over 55).

Similarly, 60pc don’t miss real world shopping as much as they thought they would, compared to 43pc of Boomers.

Along with Millennials (aged 25 to 34), they are the most likely to say they now find online shopping more enjoyable than in-person shopping; 54pc of Gen Z, compared to 26pc of Baby Boomers.

According to the research, 80pc of Irish Gen Z believe new brands are doing a better job of creating inspiring online shopping experiences while 80pc report a willingness to try new brands online since the beginning of the pandemic.

Cancellation culture

As Gen Z now accounts for approximately 40pc of consumers globally, the pressure is increasing for brands to win over this influential customer base and meet their expectations for personalisation, rewards for loyalty and inspirational digital experiences. 

“Even though the world is now returning to physical shopping experiences, the habits and expectations that lockdowns have established in consumers’ digital preferences are here to stay,” explained Sitecore chief marketing officer Paige O’Neill.

“If brands are to win over Gen Z, who represent the future of their customer base, they must create personalised digital experiences to cut through the competition. If they don’t impress fast, they risk being ‘cancelled’ and losing loyalty overnight.”

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 28 April 2021