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#AskGenZ: Online Born, Mobile Formed, and in the Communispace Office

“If it looks like a website that hasn’t been updated since 2005, I’m probably not going to spend my money there.”

“Text messages are more personal than email. If a company is coming at you through text, it’s getting a little too close for comfort.”

“Everyone wants the little apple on the back of their phone.”

This week, in preparation for our upcoming session, “Online Born, Mobile Formed,” at the 2015 MITX eCommerce Summit, we invited a group of 14- to 20-year-olds to the Communispace office for a night of pizza and casual conversation about social media, mobile, ecommerce, and the role all three play in their shopping experience. It was a fascinating evening full of stories, laughs, and eye-opening insights into the habits, emotions, motivations, and views of this digital-savvy group of Generation Z shoppers.

gen z workshop communispace 2

Naturally, social media incited a lively conversation. The group told us what social apps they use most (hello Instagram and Snapchat!), and what they use each one for. As for brands engaging with them on social, our group was very opinionated about what’s considered most effective and most annoying. As one participant said, “I used to follow American Apparel on Instagram, but I had to unfollow them because they were posting too many pictures of the same stuff every day, and it got to be obnoxious!”

Our group of young shoppers discussed the barriers and opportunities they experience most when shopping with their mobile devices – in-store and online. As one participant told us, “I research a product I like on my phone first, and then I go check it out in the store later. I also use it to put in my zip code to see if an item I like is in stock in the store.” In addition, there was lots of discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of receiving personalized deals and discounts via text versus email, and how they felt about keeping their personal and banking information private.

The group also shared feedback on their ideal ecommerce experience, and how it may or may not be a catalyst in creating brand loyalty. Whether online or on a mobile device, the group agreed: site or app design, user navigation pathways, and overall aesthetic must be appealing, modern, seamless, and on point. Otherwise, they won’t engage. And it seems that many brands have their work cut out for them in this area. As one girl pointed out, “I find a lot of mobile sites very hard to navigate. It’s hard to view products and zoom in and find out more about what you’ll potentially be buying on a mobile device.” One thing that we know for sure, no matter what channel – brick and mortar, mobile, or social media – the retail experience should be cohesive, intuitive, and engaging.

Of course, this conversation was just the tip of the iceberg. We can’t wait to find out more from this talented and tuned-in group of GenZers on March 3rd during our panel at the MITX eCommerce Summit, so come and join us! If you have a question you’d like to ask our panel, submit it via Twitter using #AskGenZ.

As a Director of Client and Consumer Services at Communispace, Amanda Fraga connects leading global brands with the young and online-born generation, and advises companies on how best to collaborate with young people to innovate products and services. Amanda will be hosting a consumer panel at the 2015 MITX eCommerce Summit, “Online Born, Mobile Formed,” with a group of GenZ shoppers to dig into their behaviors and shopping patterns.

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