What you need to know about selling to Generation Z

Who are Generation Z?

Broadly defined as those born between 1996-2010 (*1), Generation Z are the youngest generation of current consumers. Thought to dwarf the Millennials in numbers, by 2026 the majority of Gen Z will be in adulthood and their spending power at new heights. (*2)

Competition to forge relationships with this tech-savvy emerging market is fierce, and it’s not necessarily as straightforward as you might think. Generation Z are playing by different rules than their predecessors.

Here we take a look at Gen Z, their habits, their preferences, and what businesses can do to keep up with their rapidly evolving needs.

Creating an omni-channel experience

Generation Z have never known a world without smartphones and social media. Research suggests that they spend as much as 10.6 hours engaging with online content each day (*3). 

Having grown up with the instant gratification provided by technology, their minds have developed to process information at a faster rate than those of their parents and have an average attention span of just 8 seconds. (*4)

The effects of a life lived digitally are interesting. Having come of age in a world of instability and recession, Gen Z prefer to take recommendations from friends, family members and trusted influencers than they do from government and large corporate bodies.

They might be the first generation of digital natives, but research suggests that Gen Z value the hands-on experience of shopping in bricks-and-mortar stores (*5). Quality is the biggest driver for this demographic, as they seek out intuitive, relevant retail experiences. Retailers looking to capture their attention will want to invest in creating an innovative, omni-channel shopping experience that speaks to their digital expertise.

Responsible in their approach to finance, credit and pay-later options, Gen Z also tend to research products on their mobile devices before purchasing in-store. All this means that brands can no longer rely on their prominence to catch the attention of a young, self-educating audience.

To earn the trust of this demographic, retailers need a number of things: innovative advertising, an army of brand advocates, a quality product and, importantly, the smoothest possible customer experience. This can in turn then create more brand advocates to influence purchase decisions on a broader scale.

Optimising the mobile experience

Gen Z are 29% more likely to make purchases via a mobile device (*6) than Millennials. As such, a fast and efficient mobile experience should be a top priority for retailers, ensuring that all communications and processes are mobile-first. They are also visual communicators, so be sure that all information is delivered in bite-sized chunks, using images in place of text wherever appropriate.

While it’s true that Gen Z respond well to things like virtual and augmented reality (*7), simply managing a regularly updated social media presence (frequently used for browsing by Gen Z) and ensuring purchases can be completed seamlessly are great places to start. Going beyond that, retailers can employ bots or customer service staff to chat with young consumers via messaging apps, and provide quick solutions to FAQs, before doubts and distractions diminish the possibility of a sale.

Speed is of the essence.

This demographic want what they want, when they want it and are willing to pay more for speedy delivery (*8). It pays to invest in a fast, frictionless customer experience. With every additional form they have to fill out - every delay - the chance that they will change their mind about the purchase becomes greater.

People respond well to brands that go the extra mile to make things easier for them; the smoother the experience, the more likely they are to recommend a retailer or make a repeat purchase in the future. Where your bottom line is concerned taking care of the finer details and crafting a great all-round shopping experience may ultimately help retailers sell more units.        

Adapting to intuition

Retailers looking to future proof their offering are already taking action to create seamless, online journeys and offering customers a variety of ways to pay.

Barclays has a rich history of delivering financial services innovation, from the launch of PingIt (the UK’s first person-to-person service for sending and receiving money using mobile phone numbers) and leading on contactless payments through Barclaycard.

Barclays Partner Finance is no different – we have been at the forefront of recent innovations in the finance market: we were the first finance provider to bring digital signatures to market, and we launched the first upgrade programme for mobile phones in the UK. Most recently we launched Sign Anywhere (*9), our digital assurance journey to make applying for point of sale finance as frictionless and convenient as possible for our clients and their customers.

We continue to invest in new ideas that bring value to both our client partners and their customers. We benefit from being part of an innovative organisation that is experimenting with frictionless and invisible payments, big data and artificial intelligence.


This document has been prepared by Barclays Partner Finance (Barclays) and is provided for information purposes only. The accuracy or completeness of any information herein which is stated to have been obtained from or is based upon any third party sources is not guaranteed by Barclays. Barclays accepts no liability for the impact of, or any loss, however arising, from, any decisions made based on the information contained within this document.

Selling to Generation Z


*1 https://www.forbes.com/sites/causeintegration/2016/11/28/get-ready-for-generation-z/#39e573db2204

*2 http://uk.businessinsider.com/the-digital-commerce-and-gen-z-report-2017-12

*3 https://www.marketingtechnews.net/news/2018/feb/09/gen-z-engaging-10-hours-online-content-day/

*4, *7 https://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2016/05/17/generation-generation-generation-z

*5 http://uk.businessinsider.com/the-digital-commerce-and-gen-z-report-2017-12

*6 https://www.thedrum.com/news/2017/11/01/10-facts-about-the-mysterious-generation-z

*8 https://www.jcdecaux.com/blog/focus-gen-z-raising-bar-retail

*9 https://www.barclayspartnerfinance.com/home/business/sign-anywhere/