Gen Z is anyone born between 1997 and 2015, they are now getting into the workforce and were the generation that was born with a phone in their hands. How are they shopping? How are they interacting? We have a discussion with four Gen Z’ers that live in different parts of the country to find out. Adrienne Wilson, 24, Indianapolis, IN, Jake Pinkerton, 21, Lakewood Ranch, FL, Daniel Finnie, 25, San Francisco, CA, and Cody Davis, 21, Seattle, WA.
Where are you guys shopping today?
D: I use Amazon quite often, whether it’s anything electronics, shirts, clothing, whatever that may be. I don’t shop in too many other places because it’s convenient.
J: We grew up with the ease of online. So if we need something, it can be at our doorstep on the same day, one day shipping. Personally for me physical shopping and malls and retail stores, etc. has turned into a day trip, or I go and hang out with my friends. And we still shop and buy. And if we need things, maybe we’ll go out. But a lot of the time if I’m by myself and I just need a cheap pair of flip flops I’ll go on Amazon and get them the next day.
C: I usually go to Target if I’m going to buy anything. The biggest thing for me is I that have a very unconventional sleep cycle. I’m up really late, and usually up really early as well. I’m working through the day, pretty long hours, and I need to be able to go somewhere physical, that is open later. And I’ve noticed a lot of smaller shops are restricted hours, they close at seven or eight. That doesn’t work for me because I’m working past seven or eight. And Target is open until 10, 11, or 12pm depending on the area and that’s convenient for me, I don’t like to order online.
A: When I was younger, it was just a way to pass time, you went and you walked around Walmart and you would play with the toys and all kinds of stuff. So when it comes to actually shopping now, I just see brick and mortar stores as just ways to pass the time. If I really decided that I need something, or that I want something, I’ll go online or it because I know if I go and look and touch it feel at the store I’ll be, Oh, I don’t need it today. I’ll put it back and go and find it either online when I have a coupon, or when they’re running a sale or something like that. I can wait and I don’t need it today.
J: That was me as well. When I was younger, I was taught a lesson where when you spend your own money, and you think that you want something, and then you end up regretting it, it hurts a lot more when you spend it yourself. So I was taught that if I see something like that, and I don’t know if I want it right away, to put it back and come back another day. Usually that teaches you that you don’t want it, but if you do then you go back. Most of the time though, it ends up in the first thing I said.
D: For some reason, I’m a lot less impulsive when I go online. I don’t know why that is, it doesn’t really make sense. If I see things that I want or that look cool, but I’ll buy it and when I go home I think, What am I going to do with this, and I probably didn’t need to spend $40 on whatever that was online. I just know that that’s what I’m going to buy. And that’s it.
J: Maybe it’s the ease of options online. Because when you go to a mall, you can go to 50 stores, for online, you can go to every mall, ever, and overseas.
D: I’m like a kid in a candy store, I see a new belt buckle that I might want, or a pair of shoes, or this or that. I’m in that store, I’m surrounded by it, so I might buy more than I actually want to, or need to. As far as online, it doesn’t give you any, but gives you suggestions for everything, so I just ignore that and say, Okay, that’s the shirt I need.
A: Similar to what Jay said, when you have your own money, it’s a little bit different. One of the first things I was taught when I first started shopping with my own money, one of the things that I decided I wanted right off the bat, and was going to make me feel like I had become successful was a designer bag. And those are very expensive for what they are. So the first thing I was taught was, Okay, so you want it today, and you can figure out what you want and what you like about it, and then keep thinking about it, wait three months, wait six months, is that still the one you want? Or do you want a different one? Now you picked out a new one, wait six months, do you still want that one? It always changes. Just because you want it today, it doesn’t mean you’ll want it tomorrow. So that’s something I’ve learned too regarding shopping, they want you to want it right then and there and decide that that’s how it’s going to be and that’s what you want. But that’s not necessarily the long game through it.
I heard from another Gen Z person that you guys shop on Instagram, is that true?
D: I’ve never done that myself. I’m not great with those apps anyway, I stay away from Instagram and things like that. But I do know you can buy and purchase things there.
A: I have before, I have a friend who has a business account on Instagram where she gets thrift clothing and lists it, she carries her cash through Venmo. So she does in different ways like cash and carry where you just say yep, I want $15 for this shirt, or she’ll post something and says, the bid starts at $5. Whoever bids the most I will DM you and you win. And then we’ll get the transaction going through Venmo. And I will ship it to you. I bought a few things from her that way, it’s impossible to scroll through social media anymore without getting ads for random things all the time. So that’s my experience running through social media. But I wouldn’t go through any of the ads or anything like that.
J: When you go online, and you shop on your phone, when you open Instagram, you get three, four or five different companies that sell the same product that you were looking for. So I think it’s not necessarily shopping through Instagram, necessarily. The sunglass sunglasses that I own, I found the company through ads here, there and the other place. And then I saw somebody that I knew who owned a pair. So I asked them about it and my research, etc. But it definitely pushed me in the direction, scrolling through Instagram late at night, after looking for them earlier, and then seeing it again and again. It’s the same idea with being in a physical store that Daniel was saying, when you get impulsive, it’s because everything’s around you and you’re looking for something, and then you see another one, and eventually, you decide on one that caught your eye more than all the other ones because it’s, in your eyes, the best, or that’s the one that you really want.
Let’s say you guys owned a piece of retail today, what would you put in there?
C: I would section off a corner of it for virtual office, I see that there’s a lot of need for that. Having been around, and in that business for a little while now, a lot of people are shifting out of wanting physical space. If you can just sell air, why wouldn’t you? You just put up a little corner, mail gets dropped off there. And you’re able to get a higher income per square foot than you could if didn’t sell that corner of the store. That’s where I would start. As far as other retail, I would put something just for me because I have a weird living scheduling as far as when I’m up, and out and about and shopping. I would try and resonate with that because I know there are other entrepreneurs and folks like that, that live a less conventional daily schedule. I would put something in there that’s open 24/7, or I would have one company that’s active during the day and one company that’s active during the night so that you can monetize all hours during the day. Especially with our generation, people are trying to shift towards being more financially independent and free. And with that, they’re trying to learn a little bit more about sales. There was a saying that I learned from some guy that’s in retail, people love to buy, but hate to be sold to. However, I love to be sold, because it teaches me how to be a little bit better, how to get more money, and how to monetize things better. That’s one reason I like physical stores more, I think that’s where more of our generation is moving to, which is why this could stay relevant in the future.
J: I met a woman named Hannah who owns a few Lululemon stores where she lives. That’s definitely where I would put my money, on popular online marketers. For example, I buy Gymshark a lot for my gym clothes, I don’t buy anything else for the most part, unless I see something, but that’s an impulse buy. But Gymshark doesn’t really sell their clothes in store. If they were to say, Hey, we want to start putting shops into malls, we want to start putting standalone shops, I would put my money into something like that, because personally, being at college, clothes is like a weird social status. It always has been. But especially with our generation being a lot more active. I’ll go to the gym and people start a conversation about the clothes that you’re wearing. I’ll wear my Gymshark outfit, they have the classic white shark on it, or it says Gymshark or the Lululemon logo and people just start conversations like, Where’d you get? Why did you buy that? How much was it? Do you like that material? It definitely impacts.
But would you go to the store? Do you go to Lululemon yourself?
I have been, but on the East Coast, they don’t have much of them. But in Florida, they have more stores down there. I stopped by because I was interested since I’ve only ever bought online. As far as Gymshark I’ve looked for where they sell in person, because I’m curious as well about what they hold there, because a lot of the times online, they’re out of stock.
D: As far as a storefront retail type situation is concerned, I don’t know much about it, I don’t even know what I would put in there. However, I do know that Amazon now allows you to be a seller for Amazon, you basically can either buy wholesale, it could be anything like plates, to chargers, to sunglasses, etc, anything that’s very popularly sold on Amazon. And now you’re the seller, so you take it for a discounted price and resell it on Amazon. That would be something I’d be interested in doing more than just putting up a clothing store because then you mark up the prices how you see fit, or whatever the standards are for Amazon. But you still make a decent profit on everything you sell. And they’re random things. It doesn’t have to be the same uniform item. It can be anywhere from coffee mugs, to headphones, etc. I’ve worked with people in the past that have those types of stores when I was working my last job. It’s very interesting. It’s a bunch of clutter, but they do really well for themselves.
So you would convert your retail space into a warehouse?
D: Just a holding center for all the product. And then you ship them out, or you have a deal with Amazon where they ship it. There’s two ways you can do it either you ship it, or they ship it.
A: So we’re the up and comers, we are now the consumers. And one thing I’ve noticed a lot is we’re very led and driven by social media. And a lot of things that I see people our age posting nowadays are different brands. Brand recognition. That’s why Gucci exploded the way it did. That’s why Prada is exploding the way it is right now, people think of these certain brands as making it. If you own something with this name on it, you’ve made it, you’re great, everyone’s going to see you differently, especially when you can post it on social media. You want everyone to see it. So I would want to come up with a way to get as much of these different brands more accessible to these people because I’ve also learned through different ways, it’s very niche to be able to go in there. They’re looking for certain consumers, they don’t necessarily want to sell to the younger people, we’re kind of looked down upon, you’re not there yet, you can’t afford it, all of that kind of stuff. But we’re willing, we want it, we want the items, but the brands themselves are not really sure they want to sell to the younger people quite yet. So I would want to figure out a way to get more of that product into the hands of the younger people, because that’s what is in demand for them right now.
Would you do that in a store format or online?
A: Probably both. Because again, you can go into the store, see it, touch it, feel it, and know what you want. But like I said, if I want to wait six months, I’m not going to go back to the store in six months, I can order it online. And like Jake said earlier, you can get it the next day. So I would try to figure out a way to do both.
So seeing something person and touching is important to you guys?
J: If I’m buying something that’s a little pricey, or something I wouldn’t usually buy, I’m not going to go online for it, if it’s the first thing I’m buying. So gym clothes is a little different. For example, watches or if I wanted a new pair of shoes that I’m going to wear every single day. Or if I want running shoes, I’m not going to buy running shoes online and hope that they fit well. There’s still definitely a touch and feel aspect that I need with certain products. But it’s not all products.
A: To draw on Jake’s point, the word that everyone’s throwing around now is quality. Everyone wants stuff that’s good quality, and you can’t really check that through a computer screen.
And you cannot get quality from Amazon either, I’m coming to the conclusion.
D: The only time I need to be in a store is when I’m going to buy clothing. I have a weirdly made body that some clothes just don’t fit. I don’t know, I order a bunch of things on Amazon or other online sites and who knows what you get, whether it’s cotton, polyester, it fits this person, but it won’t fit you. It’s supposed to fit, but I’d rather go in and make sure things are how they should be. And be happy, not dissatisfied.
Is there anything else that you think investors should know, with regards to your generation in terms of real estate investing?
J: I think it’s really important to not pick one or the other and do hybrid, because there are products that are just nicer to have ease of access, there are products that are nicer to have the touch and feel. It just needs to evolve, to supply both demands, in a sense, and that needs to be online and in person. Some products may fall out of the in person and go only online. And it’s just an evolving process that you shouldn’t pick one or the other.
D: I think it’s good to notate that things nowadays, whether it’s products or whatever the mindset about everything changes faster than it used to be. It used to be in a uniform manner, for 10 years this is popular, and I think the 10 years now is only five years, and now it’s two, and now it’s about six months. Things change really fast nowadays, especially with the advances in technology and everything else, certain types of brands, certain things that you’ve been used to your whole life are going to change a lot faster. Whether it’s product wise or lifestyle wise, it’s changing very fast.
A: I would just say don’t try to follow the curve, try to be ahead of it. Going off of what Daniel said, if you’re always trying to chase it, you will never catch up. It’s changing faster than we can even do. I feel like I have to change my closet every three months. I feel like I’m always having to buy new things to keep up with a trend. So I just gave up because I was always trying to follow the curve instead of being a part of it.
C: Even more so on office space and the retail side, I’ve noticed this, and I follow a lot of folks that are really high up in the space like Dave Ramsey, who owns a lot of buildings. And one note that he made, one of the studies is that this generation is more ambitious than that of prior generations. And it’s not out of greed, but it’s just out of the longing to be more successful. They’re taking new leads and jumping into businesses that some of their families have not been in and out of that, that’s going to create an extra demand on space. Not everything can be virtual and even if it could be virtual, not everybody wants it to be. I see an increase in demand over the next decade or so just for the fact that our generation wants to get better, and you can’t just get better online, there has to be a physical aspect, because regardless of whether it’s B2B or B2C, whatever your business is, there has to be some human interaction at some level, and the office space will stay relevant.
So you still appreciate face to face human interaction?
All: Yes, absolutely. Now more than ever. Especially after this pandemic, it’s nice to see faces again.
D: It’s also tied into pretty much everything. I’d say have hope with our generation, there are still ones that are smart and intelligent, and have the urge to learn, and take what we do very seriously. There are ones that are just stuck in TikTok, and brainwashed by all these new trends. But there are a bunch of us that really want to learn and be successful. So that’s what I would probably do.