Did I prove wrong? We at university pondered and analyzed the impact of electronic commerce when the Generation Z members were born in the mid-1990s. We were young and maybe a little too idealistic to believe that value chains would be shorter, new players would dominate market, and that buying would migrate online within a few years, if not a decade. The change would be profound and permanent.
New global research showed that 15,000 Generation Z members could have been wrong. Generation Z is a group made up of young people who were born in the mid-90s and have been exposed to the world of social media, smartphones, and the internet. They have no reference to the older operating principles other than oral tradition.
According to the Uniquely Gen Z study, Generation Z say they are more interested in shopping at brick and mortar stores than online. Results show that 98% of 13- and 21-year-olds prefer brick-and-mortar stores over online shopping. This group includes 67% who shop at brick and mortar stores almost every day and 31% who only occasionally.
It also revealed that:
- Spending time online is the most important activity for leisure. This was a top priority for three out of four respondents.
- The smartphone is the most used device (75%). 25% of respondents say they use smartphones more than five hours per day. Chatting, entertainment, and playing games are their most important activities.
- Generation Z is not willing to accept substandard or slow service. Generation Z values simple services and prefers to avoid complicated apps.
- Respondents are wary of sharing sensitive information. Respondents are willing to share purchase history and contact information (62%), but they don’t support sharing sensitive personal information (21%).
- Over 70% of respondents said they have an influence on their families’ buying decisions. This includes trips, furniture and consumer goods.
- 22 percent of respondents earn money online through blogs or YouTube channels.
It’s normal for Generation Z to have a change in their behaviour as they get older. Although we don’t know the exact mechanism, it is possible that their learned behaviors will continue to some degree. For example, it is understandable that minors shop in brick and mortar shops because they don’t have credit cards.
Generation Z believes shopping is all about entertainment and spending quality time with friends. They are also pragmatic and self-aware. They live and breathe online. That belief will not change no matter what their circumstances are.
Those working in commerce would do well to look closely at the research. There are ongoing follow-up reports that go deeper into various aspects of commerce. This and other empirical research can be done by watching the behavior of Gen. Z youths. I will continue to watch my family’s teens through fresh eyes, and then come to a conclusion about how wrong I was.