More than 90% of Generation Z say that a strong wi-fi signal is important to them and their overall shopping experience, according to a survey conducted by HRC Retail Advisory, a retail advisory firm. Emerging in-store technologies and positive social media feedback are among the top priorities for both Generation Z and Millennial consumers. The survey also revealed a generational shift in how these consumers shop for beauty products.

“Millennial and Generation Z’s use of technology in-store, their need to stay connected to friends via social media while they shop, and how they’re shopping beauty trends is changing consumer spending patterns. While the latter generation was born with a smartphone in hand, it doesn’t keep them from shopping – and even preferring to shop – in brick and mortar stores, as long as they have access to their ever-important social network,” said Farla Efros, President of HRC Retail Advisory. “Generation Z in not only powerful on their own, but they are the ones dragging their Millennial parents (who prefer to shop online), back into the mall as well. Understanding these consumer segments and how they apply to a retailer’s business will be essential, as both of these generations will be crucial to retail strategies going forward.”

Retailers should take social media feedback opportunities seriously. They can make or break not only sales of products, but also whether or not these young consumers even walk in the door. The new AudienceSCAN study found 7.9% of U.S. adults have provided feedback directly to a brand through social media during the past 6 months.

To better understand the growing influence of Millennial and Generation Z consumers and the implications for retailers, HRC recently surveyed 1,350 participants in North America on their attitudes, behaviors and influences driving their shopping purchases.

Significant findings of the survey include:

Magic Mirrors & Retail Apps Enhance In-Store Experiences

  • Magic Mirrors Keep Consumers Connected. When asked if they would use a “Magic Mirror” in dressing rooms to send images through social media, 66% of Millennials aged 18 to 34 said they would be at least somewhat likely to use the technology, which is 50% more than those aged 35 to 41. In fact, Generation Z and Younger Millennials were found to embrace emerging technologies, particularly if they enhanced a connection with their social network or streamlined the shopping experience.
  • Retail Apps Favored Over Traditional In-store Payments. 68% of Millennials, and 64% of Generation Z state that they would likely use a retailer’s app to make an in-store payment. And, the number of consumers favoring apps over traditional payment methods climbs to 78% among Millennials aged 25 to 34.

Retailers can promote their tech savvy with ads on social networks. Young customers are already on these sites, looking for feedback. The new AudienceSCAN survey revealed 57% of Social Feedback Providers took action after seeing advertising on social media in the past 30 days.

Social Networks Drive Purchase Decisions

  • Facebook and YouTube Dominate Social Media. Nearly 60% of respondents (both Millennials and Generation Z) use Facebook daily, with as high as 72% of Millennials age 25 to 34. YouTube ranks second amongst both demographics, with over 55% using the platform daily.
  • Social Media is Essential for Feedback. More than half of respondents (both Millennials and Generation Z) said they use social media to solicit opinions while shopping, and more than 40% of respondents said they have made a decision based on feedback from their network, which consists primarily of their peers. Additionally, 25% of Millennials say they have returned items based on feedback from social media sites, and Generation Z’s return rate is as high as 62%.

Soliciting feedback and engaging with customers can entice customers from these generations. In the new AudienceSCAN survey, Social Feedback Providers were 173% more likely than average consumers to say, “advertising on social networks like Facebook and Twitter is useful to me.”

Discounts & Influencers Are Key to Shopping Beauty

  • Amazon & Discount Stores Top Traditional Beauty Stores. With new beauty trends constantly emerging, both Generation Z and Millennials look to Amazon and Discount Stores (ie. Walmart, Target) to shop for products over traditional beauty stores (ie. Sephora, Department Stores, etc.). In fact, when asked where Generation Z has purchased beauty products in the last 6 months 55% said Discount Stores and 35% said Amazon. For Millennials, 49% said they shop Discount Stores and 45% on Amazon.
  • Friends & YouTubers Influence Gen Z Beauty Buys. While Millennials are primarily influencedby the store experience when shopping for beauty (34%), Generation Z cites Friends and YouTube Beauty Gurus as their primary influence when shopping (54%). Store experience is significantly less important to Generation Z in Beauty purchasing (11%).

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.