Reaching the hyper-connected consumer – from Tech Zombies to Millennials

31 August, 2015 by Max Worth | OminchannelRetailUser Experience

I recently attended the launch of Stylus Fashion, a new arm of Stylus Media Group, a company that analyses how consumer lifestyle trends impact product design and consumer engagement. Despite standing out like a sore thumb alongside some of the biggest names in fashion, I took particular interest in the presentation titled “Reaching the connected consumer”. Highly relevant to our work in the Retail sector, the presentation focused on Gen Y (20-33 years old) and Gen Z (5-19 years old) consumers. They’re the future innovators, and it seems to me that understanding their motivations and tech habits is crucial in determining what will engage them in the future. Here are some of the key points I picked up:

Generation Z – aka Tech Zombies!

Generation Z are super-social networkers, maturing faster than any previous generation. They account for 2 billion of the world’s population, and nearly 20% of the UK population.

They are the most entrepreneurial generation – 72% of Gen Z want to start their own business; and they look for instant gratification (who doesn’t?) – 15% of UK children under 10 would give up food and sleep to play more on their mobile phone. Thesetemporary digital tattoos developed by Motorola allow consumers to unlock their phones, an example of instant gratification in a digital environment, for those Tech Zombies looking to save half a second.

Generation Z consumers want technology embedded in every aspect of lifeNail-art incorporating wearable technology can allow consumers to monitor heart rates, opening a world of possibilities. While social media is still at the forefront for consumers, the industry must be reactive. Tech Zombies are bored quickly, and indeed 25% of teens in the US have left Facebook in 2014, flocking to emoji-only networks such as Imoji.


Generation Y – Not so narcissistic!

Generation Y – aka millennials – are an age group often considered self-absorbed and restless, but I see them differently; they’re actually very community-minded. They use technology as a way of enhancing real-world experiences, rather than to escape them. They’ve grown up with information at their fingertips, expecting free tasters, trial periods, and upgrade potential in all aspects of life. Out of 1000 American millennials, 43% would support the idea of a “beta marriage” period.

Millennials crave straightforward solutions and purpose-built products. This has been taken to an ultimate extreme by the US app “Yo” that has only one function – the ability to send a single notification – “Yo!” – to friends. It now has 2 million downloads and a valuation of $10 million.

Gen Y consumers want no-hassle interactions and simple interfaces – Tinder, with its screen swipe format, is a standard-bearer for apps that do this well. Do it right and it can open up a world of opportunities – Juicy Couture recently debuted a fashion campaign of behind-the-scenes images to 2.5 million fans via Snapchat.  


What does this mean for Retail?

Increasingly, shoppers don’t seem to want to view the world in terms of channels - this means that the idea of omni-channel is already somewhat outdated. What matters most are the brand connections that let consumers keep their eyes on the prize as they hop about. There has also been a move away from traditional, linear-style retail toward a style ofshoppable content including buying from links in digital magazines, blogs and even each other.

For example, last year, Nike launched the Nike Album with Finnish company Kiosked. Kiosked are a digital platform that allow content such as photos or videos to be dynamically shoppable. Retailers should focus on the truly visual sweet spots such as Instagram. Previously, Instagram was relevant to Retail only really in terms of ad space, but is now becoming directly shoppable. “Liketoknowit” is an Instagram-based sales platform that emails a shoppable link to anyone who has ‘liked’ a specifically tagged Instagram post.

This socialisation of the retail experience is also relevant to the physical retail environment. Designer Karl Lagerfeld’s stores show the grasp of not only sharing but immediacy – his fitting rooms are equipped with touchscreen photo booths, enabling shoppers to snap their outfits, and then share them via social media or e-mail.


Enough waffle! How do we apply this to our work?

  1. Encourage our clients to engage in non-linear thinking consumers are increasingly disinterested in what channel they’re shopping from as long as they get what they want. If we can help our clients to deliver a seamless retail experience, that’s when they will see real positive impact.
  2. In an era arguably defined by the boom in social and interest-based networks, reaching individuals now also means connecting communities. Inspire our clients to look to the groups and how they communicate – how to do it authentically and successfully (and how not to do it!)
  3. As project teams, be aware that consumer-centric control is crucial. Consumers expect greater access to brands, and more control over the retail experience than ever before.
  4. Clients are interested in real-time experiences; they will appreciate that in the frantic world we live in, a good retail experience should be relevant to the time, place and context of the shopper.