Engage, for Real: Millennials and their younger counterparts look for brands to be active in the spaces they occupy most: social media. Inauthentic efforts that overtly push product, or worse, products not in line with their preferences, will disintegrate any level of loyalty.

Elite Daily’s “Millennial Consumer Trends” report said, “Millennials expect brands to publish content online before they make purchases and rank authenticity – 43 percent – as more important than the content itself when consuming news.”

This priority only increases with Gen Z-ers. Interactions Experience Marketing’s report “The Next Generation of Retail” says 63 percent of Generation Z shoppers expect retailers to have a social media presence – but they use the channels to crowdsource approval on items before purchasing and to connect with friends. With these shoppers, optimizing the use of micro-influencers who seem approachable is key.

Easy Does It: Unified experiences across channels and brick-and-mortars are monumental for these shoppers. Generation Z especially appreciates the immediacy of buying in-store. The same Interactions Experience Marketing report said, “Sixty-four percent [of Gen Z shoppers] would rather shop in-store than online.”

But this doesn’t mean that digital platforms can or should deliver subpar user experiences. This is, after all, where they perform most of their product research. “The popularity of researching product information on a retailer’s web site (56 percent) is nearly identical to researching on social media (58 percent),” said the Interactions Experience Marketing report.

Millennials participate in similar behavior. According to Accenture’s global market research into shopping patterns of the demographic, “Sixty-eight percent of all Millennials demand an integrated, seamless experience regardless of the channel. That means being able to transition effortlessly from smartphone to personal computer to physical store in their quest for the best products and services.”

Loyal, Maybe: The two generations have gotten a reputation for being fair-weather consumers. Their crowdsourcing, investigative nature spurs fleeting brand loyalty unless inspired to not seek alternatives. “Coupling experience with speedy fulfillment will go a long way toward meeting this generation’s expectations,” said Accenture’s Generation Z “Digital Dust” report.

These shoppers hold merchants to a higher standard, applying their purchases to companies that present the most appealing options. This means the brands that offer environmentally friendly products, low-cost and high-quality – and engaged on social media – will win.

Millennials typically tend to be more swayed by a brand’s social presence and proactive strategies for capturing their business, whereas Gen Z-ers look to retail experiences and quick order fulfillment. Accenture’s Millennial-focused report said, “We found that 95 percent or more of Millennials say they want their brands to court them actively, and coupons sent via e-mail or mailed to their homes currently (or will) have the most influence on them.”

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