Gen Z stress an opportunity for retail success, finds A.T. Kearney

23 September 2019 2 min. read
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Gen Z’s heightened concerns about mental and physical health and higher stress responses to news and social media could unlock potential opportunities for brick and mortar stores, according to a new survey of 1,500 North American consumers from consulting firm A.T. Kearney.

Gen Z’s (46%) are more concerned about their mental and physical health than millennials or Gen X’s, and only one percentage point behind boomers, who would have intensified age-related health concerns. Gen Z’s are also the generation that feels most stressed or overwhelmed by the news (23%) and social media (22%).

This likely follows from the fact that the first digital native generation spends the most time on the internet, and is tuned into every horror of the endless online news cycle. And since most news is alarmist and soul-crushing, and most social media is a falsified reality of a perfect life or a toxic cesspool of alternate hatred and outrage, Gen Z’s would be getting the brunt of this horror-show on loop.

As such, Gen Z’s are looking to de-stress in the “real” world. Fifty-eight percent of zoomers said shopping in-store allows them to disconnect from social media and the digital world, leading all other generational respondents.

Gen Z members are more stressed about news and social media

Seventy-three percent of zoomers said they used in-store for discovering products, 65% used stores for trial, and a full 81% said they liked to purchase in-store.

"I think one of the things the survey shows us is that, despite being the first full generation of digital natives, Gen Z is looking at brick and mortar retailing as a way to, 'disconnect,' from the stress of social media while at the same time getting emotionally closer to the online influencers and celebrities they follow," said Nora Kleinewillinghoefer, co-author of the report and a principal in A.T. Kearney's retail and consumer goods practice.

Twenty-seven percent of Gen Z’s said buying products endorsed by online influencers (the Kardashians, etc.) made them feel closer to the celebrity endorsers. The report found that Gen Z’s rely more on influencer opinions than other generations, with their opinions far outweighing those of peers when it came to making purchase decisions.

The A.T. Kearney report also found distinct differences between Gen Z's in Canada versus the US. Canadian zoomers seemed more relaxed overall, reporting less concern over news and social media, and spending less time on their digital devices than their American counterparts. Canadian zoomers also did not value celebrity endorsements to the same extent as US zoomers. 

Canadian Gen Z's also were less likely to let negative experiences deter them from making a purchase online and in-store, showing a higher patience or tolerance threshold.