A new kind of customer: What’s driving retail evolution

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Retail is going through rapid transformation, driven in part by changing consumer behavior. NRF’s research team looks at how these changes take effect in the Consumer View report, a quarterly check-in on what shapes retail.

In this week’s episode of Retail Gets Real, NRF’s Director of Research and Consumer Insights Katherine Cullen explains how the customer experience is evolving and why we can’t assume that Gen Z consumers are just like Millennials.

In today’s hyper-connected and information-rich world, by the time a shopper walks into a store or lands on a website, they know what they want, how they want to get it and what their options are. This impacts not only how customers’ shopping journeys evolve but also the types of retail experiences they value. Modern consumers value convenience and speed, the ability to easily find products and a fast checkout. Technology often helps with the frictionless shopping experience, like an app to navigate the store or look up inventory.

Katherine Cullen (middle) chats with Shaquayla Mims (left) and Jennifer Overstreet (right).

Katherine Cullen (middle) chats with Shaquayla Mims (left) and Jennifer Overstreet (right).

Younger generations of shoppers — both Millennials, between the ages of 23 and 36 today, and Generation Z, those under 22 — are also contributing to the changing retail environment. However, it’s critical to understand the differences between these two groups.

One of the biggest differences between Millennials and Gen Z is that younger consumers like to be part of the product creation process, and are much more willing to share feedback and product improvement suggestions with brands. Millennials, on the other hand, want brands to cater to them, and expect purchases to reflect their personalities and values.

Listen to the episode to learn how consumer preferences are changing shipping and fulfillment, and for examples of how some brands have adapted well to the new retail landscape. To see more data, check out this quarter’s Consumer View report.

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