It is tempting when talking about the future of retail to focus on technology. What is more relevant, however, is changes in societal attitudes — the way consumers think about themselves, about each other and how they want to look and present themselves in public. Those kinds of changes are at least as impactful as changes in technology and they directly affect what consumers want to buy. Jared Weiner, EVP and Chief Strategy Officer at The Future Hunters, made a presentation on this very topic at the Innocos Beauty Summit recently. Here’s what he talked about:
As Weiner put it, “Acceleration in the implosion of time.” What he means is that big things are happening faster all the time. We all know that but what he’s referring to particularly is the life cycle of companies:
- Startups are getting to high valuations faster.
- Established companies are losing share and consumer attention faster.
- Planning cycles are shorter and product life cycles are shorter.
Technology is facilitating acceleration but so are people’s expectations. Once people believe something is going to happen, there’s no patience left for the interim, gestation period. That was always true in financial markets, now it’s true in many other areas of life as well.
After Millennials, What?
Generally referred to as Gen Z, Weiner calls them Cybrids, people born in 1996 or later, the generation after Millennials. They have no memory of a time when mobile technology was not part of daily life. The younger ones in the group learned to use a touchscreen before they could read. Technology is natural to them in ways that Millennials can’t relate to. This group has different attitudes about many things. Data indicate they view the world in a less gender-based way. They have reduced brand loyalty.
Leslie Ghize, EVP of TOBE, which consults on consumers and culture and is a Doneger Group company, presented on this topic at the recent fashion trade show Magic in Las Vegas. About these Cybrids or Gen Z consumers, Ghize says they are the most overscheduled generation with tutors, coaches and classes. Ghize asks, “Why isn’t anybody at a mall? Ain’t nobody got no time for that.”