Younger generations forcing retailers to up their game

Gen Z has high expectations for a seamless shopping experience

MONTREAL, June 16, 2016 /CNW/ - Gen Z has higher standards than any other generation when it comes to their expectations around a shopping experience – and retailers' survival is dependent on their ability to keep up. According to a recent EY report, e-commerce fulfills Gen Z's needs, and in order for retailers to be relevant, they must translate that experience in their brick and mortar stores.

"Digital shopping sets a high standard online – and consumers expect the same or better standard when they walk into a store," says Daniel Baer, EY's Canadian retail and consumer products sector leader. "Digitally savvy consumers are armed with information they've gathered online, and when their in-store experience and products don't match their expectations, it can lead to lost sales and a diminished brand."

According to EY's report, One tough customer: How Gen Z is challenging the competitive landscape and redefining omnichannel, Millennial consumers transformed the retail industry by demanding a great price for the items they purchased. While that generation is still most likely to look for coupons or respond to a shopping alert online, teens (Gen Z) are shopping online for simplicity.

"Physical stores act as a competitive advantage to showcase products and offer immediacy that an online purchase lacks," explains Baer. "But at the end of the day, the youngest consumers want a shopping experience that understands their life patterns."

According to EY's report, 58% of Gen Z consumers would choose in-store purchases over online in order to see and feel the product, while 50% look to avoid shipping costs and 43% want to get the products faster.

"As those in the younger generations get a bit older and start having their own credit cards – and buying power – retailers will have to up their game even more," says Baer. These consumers crave experience versus products, social media versus traditional advertising, and personalization versus mass marketing. "The good news is retailers are realizing what Gen Z and Millennial consumers don't want. They loathe 'experts'. Whether they're shopping online or in store, younger generations don't value 'experts' because they've already educated themselves and found the information they're looking for when it comes to things like quality."

When it comes to engaging consumers, a new executive briefing developed by Forbes Insights, in cooperation with EY, Closing the Loop: The Last 1,000 Feet of the Shopping Experience, outlines how retailers need to use a combination of digital and in-store tactics. According to the briefing, the five most effective ways to engage consumers are:

  1. Real-time/dynamic pricing
  2. Digital promotions in store
  3. Two-way communication
  4. Limiting out-of-stocks
  5. Loyalty pricing/programs

To read more about how retailers can relate to the needs of Gen Z and others, read EY's full report here.

About EY
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

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SOURCE EY (Ernst & Young)

For further information: Sasha Anopina,, 416 943 2637; Julie Fournier,, 514 874 4308; Leigh Kjekstad,, 604 648 3807


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