We can all learn a thing or two from Generation-Z

Generation-Z is a consumer group that is of increasing interest to brands and retailers today. In fact there probably hasn’t been so much interest in this age group since the phrase ‘teenager’ was first coined. Some of that interest is no doubt driven by the fact that this age group is so tech-savvy, and willing to push new technology to its boundaries. Generation Z is also interesting because this age group has probably never been so materially well off in the main.


This is definitely a cohort worth watching and understanding, but whilst I have two generation-Zers in my house, as a quant researcher I know that’s not a robust sample. So rather than pontificate on how this age group shops, I thought I’d share the thoughts of one 16 year old and how she and her friends shopped Generation-Z-style for their Prom dresses:

Although our prom isn’t until the end of June, ‘shopping’ actually began almost on our first day back after the summer holidays. The girls on our school Prom Committee launched a Facebook page called ‘Bitch don’t steal my dress’, to which all 90 odd girls in Year 11 were invited. Yes, it was a name designed to shock, but it had a very clear purpose – to avoid any risk of clashing outfits and catfights at the Prom door. The idea was that everyone could post on the page the dresses they liked which would mean no one else could buy that dress until they had decided. And it’s been great entertainment to see the changing range of dresses, styles… and some rather large budgets!!!

To find our dresses most of us initially researched online: looking at a ton of different websites ranging from high street names to online sites – even those dodgy American websites with “made to measure” dresses which never fit, or look anything like the picture on the website. A few friends got inspiration online and then went out to the shops to try them on, but I found sticking to online made it easier to browse and dip in and out of whenever the mood took me. Besides, my mum hates shopping so endless trips to shops were never going to work!

I found the perfect dress around Christmas on the House of Fraser website, and got loads of likes on the FB page when I posted it as an option – but it went out of stock just as I decided to go for it. Try as I might, even resorting to an online chat with the brand, I couldn’t get it in my size. So it wasn’t until Easter that I found one I liked as much. In fact, I found it in a shop I never even thought to look at for a prom dress: Abercrombie and Fitch. I actually saw their advert for evening dresses on Facebook and followed the link to find and order my prom dress!

Quite a few girls took a bulk order approach in which they would order as many as seven dresses from one or several websites, Asos was a popular choice for its wide range of brands and styles, to then try on at home and have more time to decide and compare than in a shop with sometimes fewer guaranteed options.

My best friend ordered five dresses from Asos one weekend and snapchatted me with pictures of them all. Then, the following weekend, after showing her Mum and deciding on the top two options, she invited two of us to her house after school to help her decide what she should keep. It was like being in a shop at her house and I even tried one of them on myself! Eventually we decided on a favourite and she sent the rest back.

So, in our many varied ways we all got the dress we wanted, there weren’t any clashes, nor any Bridget Jones moments of turning up in ‘the wrong’ outfit. Having made the best of all the retail options available to us we could relax and enjoy celebrating getting through Prom dress shopping and our GCSEs just about in one piece!

To conclude, the shoppers of the future – Generation Z – are demonstrating a willingness to flex all available channel options as they shop. They have a fluidity to their purchase journeys that shows the opportunity for omnichannel strategies. So spending time with this cohort could unlock future opportunities for your brand.


 By Danielle Pinnington, MD @Shoppercentric