If a Store Doesn’t Have Wi-Fi, Teens Won’t Shop There

Oh, to be young and social-media-obsessed.

More than 90 percent of Generation Z — a cohort comprising teens and young adults under 20 — feel that a strong Wi-Fi signal is a critical component of their overall shopping experience, according to a new survey conducted by retail research firm HRC Retail Advisory.

It should come as no surprise that the study also found that emerging in-store technologies and positive social media feedback are among the top priorities for both Generation Z and millennial consumers.

Chicago-based HRC surveyed 1,350 participants in North America — in two distinct demographics: millennials (18-41) and Generation Z (10-17) — on their attitudes, behaviors and influences driving their shopping purchases.

There may be several reasons why younger shoppers desire a strong Wi-Fi signal in the stores they patronize — but their need to solicit the opinions of their digital-savvy peers is apparently chief among them.

The researchers found that social media is an essential tool for teens and young adults seeking feedback about their shopping decisions. Specifically, more than half of respondents — both millennials and Generation Z — said they use social media to solicit opinions while shopping, and more than 40 percent of respondents said they have made a decision based on feedback from their network, which consists primarily of their peers. Interestingly, 25 percent of millennials said they have actually returned items based on feedback from social media sites, and Generation Z’s return rate is as high as 62 percent.

Among its other notable findings, HRC determined that techy in-store features — such as “magic mirrors” — and shopping apps rank high on the list of the preferences of young consumers.

When asked if they would use a magic mirror in dressing rooms to send images through social media, 66 percent of millennials 18 to 34 said they would be at least somewhat likely to use the technology, which was 50 percent more than those 35 to 41.

How they pay for the items is also leaning in a more techy direction: 68 percent of millennials and 64 percent of Generation Z stated 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 jumped to 78 percent among millennials 25 to 34.

“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,”said Farla Efros, president of HRC. “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. Generation Z is 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.”

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