Gen Z more likely to visit shopping malls, fast-food restaurants, study finds
- Gen Zers, defined as those born between 1997 and 2003, are 23% more likely to go to shopping malls compared to other age groups, according to a new study by Foursquare and Carat written up in The Drum. The generation is 38% more likely to shop at outlet malls, and breaking it down by brand, is 139% more likely to shop at Urban Outfitters and 124% more likely to shop at Forever 21.
- Gen Z's preference for brick-and-mortar differentiates the cohort from millennials, who have tended to embrace online-only and mobile shopping. The research suggests that several retailers, like Sephora and Zara, have been adjusting to the digitally-native Gen Zers by adding more tech features to phyaisical locations, like augmented reality, self-service and mobile in-store shopping, as 47% of the age group uses their smartphones for real-world trips.
- Additionally, Gen Zers are nearly 20% more likely to visit a fast-food restaurant compared to other generations, including millennials, who tend to visit healthier chains like Chop't, Just Salad and Juice Generation. Gen Zers visited In-n-Out Burger 111% more frequently, Shake Shack 102% more frequently and Chipotle 93% more frequently than their older peers. Gen Z is projected to have more than $143 billion in spending power by 2020.
Millennials have become somewhat notorious for "killing" various industries and types of products, including physical U.S. retail — currently still grappling with a wave of bankruptcies and stores shutterings — and fast-food. McDonald's, for example, began pivoting its marketing strategy two years ago after finding that only 20% of millennials had ever tried its flagship menu item, the Big Mac.
The Foursquare and Carat research then might come as a bright spot for marketers in these legacy categories as they look to build out loyalty for the long term with younger consumers like Gen Z. The study also emphasizes how millennials and Gen Zers, though close in age, think very differently about the world and do not court a one-size-fits all approach to marketing.
Gen Zers, despite being part of the first truly digitally-native generation, have expressed growing aversions to the smartphones they're frequently viewed as being attached at the hip to. Gen Z holds a paradoxical view of social media, for example, with 41% saying platforms make them feel anxious, sad or depressed, but 77% saying platforms offer more benefits than drawbacks, per research from Hill-Holiday's Origin group.
Blending mobile technology with a better in-store experience might help marketers win over Gen Z, as opposed to millennials, who appear more squarely focused on e-commerce. Gen Zers tend to enjoy in-store experiences, with 80% saying they look forward to shopping in stores when they have time, according to a separate study by Criteo. While 75% of Gen Zers do most of their shopping online out of convenience, they often struggle to find what they need through digital channels and visit multiple sites to compare prices, Criteo found.
Another key differentiator between millennials and Gen Z is that the younger age groups aren't as ad-averse. Gen Z females, especially, are more likely to appreciate targeted digital ads that are relevant to them when compared to millennials.